By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The student arm of the new lefty Jewish group J Street has dropped the "pro-Israel" part of its "pro-Israel, pro-peace" slogan, the Jerusalem Post reports today. The move is sure to feed accusations from much of the Jewish organizational world that the group is too soft in its support for the Jewish state.
Here's what J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami told me this morning about the move by the college group, J Street U:
J Street and J Street U are both pro-Israel. Students who want a relationship with Israel are having trouble talking about it in a pro-Israel way and need to honor that. We can't force them to use language that makes them uncomfortable. But make no mistake, these students want this relationship and care about Israel.
Read the Jerusalem Post story here. Here's a statement by J Street U Director Tammy Shapiro in response to the story:
J Street and J Street U are proud to be pro-Israel organizations that work to support Israel as the democratic and Jewish homeland, with full and equal rights for all of its citizens and the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own.
As this conference has made clear, we believe that support for the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel is a core pro-Israel position, and that we need to reclaim the meaning of pro-Israel so that it never implies we are anti-others.
In the interest of greater positive connection between college students and Israel, they will be given the freedom to discuss and explore the full range of issues related to the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Arab-Israeli conflict. We will be giving campus groups and student members great latitude and flexibility—with only one constraint: that the work be done in a context that always embraces the right of a state for Jewish people in the land of Israel to exist beside a state for Palestinian people in the land of Palestine.
This principle has been in all legal documents signed to create this effort and is included in the policy guidelines for J Street U. The statements and slogans of individual students and campus groups may not reflect J Street U policy.