October 27, 2009

Seeing the light

By: Sonny Bunch

Well, kind of. Matt Yglesias* realizes that, hey, some of these people supporting J Street (the liberal counterpart to AIPAC) are, in fact, not fans of the state of Israel at all.

I was debating with Jon Chait at a J Street panel this morning on the subject of “what does it mean to be pro-Israel?” As expected, we disagreed on a number of points, most of which I was right on and he was wrong on. But one thing he said in his opening remarks that I really disagreed with was that there was an ambiguity running through the J Street constituency as to whether the group was or should be pro-Israel at all.

That just struck me as kind of nuts. My J Street button said “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” It’s not a subtle aspect of the messaging. But when we moved to the Q&A time it became clear that a number of people in the audience really were quite uncomfortable self-defining as “pro-Israel” in any sense and that others are uncomfortable with the basic Zionist concept of a Jewish national state. I was, of course, aware that those views existed but it had seemed to me that it was clear that that wasn’t what J Street is there to advocate for. Apparently, though, it wasn’t clear to everyone.

Now, the odds that he’ll give any credit to the people who have been pointing this out for weeks now are slim to none. But maybe he’ll look just a little more askance at J Street in the weeks to come.

*AKA, Bobby Big Wheel of the Juice Box Mafia.