Originally published December 14, 2022
J Street, a far-left organization that has done more to turn Israel into a partisan issue than any other, has joined other anti-Israel Jewish groups in an attempt to browbeat Kevin McCarthy—likely to be the next speaker of the House—into not kicking virulent antisemite Rep. Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This is in keeping with J Street’s plan to make Israel less safe and turn it into a wedge issue.
First, let’s examine why and under what precedent McCarthy will make this decision. The precedent was set by outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who removed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments due to comments Greene made years before she was elected. At the time, this was unprecedented. Pelosi went even further by barring Jim Jordan and Jim Banks from the January 6th Committee. Traditionally, each party chooses who is on what committee, and approval to sit on those committees is rubber-stamped by the majority.
McCarthy is well within his rights to play the same game with the Democrats. In fact, it is his duty to do so. If he does not, it sends a strong message to the opposition that they can get away with the nuclear option without consequences.
Next, let’s examine Omar herself. She has had a long history of antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred even after her election to the House. This goes beyond her “all about the benjamins” commentaccusing Jews of buying control of Congress and her reference to Israel as an “apartheid state.” Omar has also been a vocal proponent of the economic destruction of Israel via the BDS movement; so vocal that she was banned from visiting the Jewish state. In addition, Omar comparedIsrael (and the U.S.) to Hamas and the Taliban.
The company that Omar keeps has an even worse antisemitic track record than she does. Her best friend in Congress appears to be Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who had a sticky note in her office showing a map of Israel with the word “Palestine” written over it. Tlaib has also endorsed the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is a direct call for a second Holocaust and the establishment of a Palestinian supremacist state in Israel’s place. Furthermore, Omar hobnobs with activist Linda Sarsour, who also advocates Israel’s destruction, at events hosted by the virulently anti-Israel organization CAIR.
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So, McCarthy has both precedent and moral justification for removing Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, which deals directly with the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Then there’s J Street itself. A comprehensive study of congressional legislation has shown a divergence between Democrats and Republicans regarding Israel. This increased partisanship on the issue began in 2008, which happens to be when J Street was founded. As its chief Jeremy Ben-Ami wrote, he wanted to “change the rules” around how U.S. politicians treat Israel. “The need to rewrite those rules has become the mission of my life,” he added. Ben-Ami reached out to like-minded individuals, including George Soros, and founded the most consequential anti-Israel organization of the past decade.
Moreover, J Street is fanatically partisan. For over 10 years, no Jewish organization spent more on funding political candidates than J Street, and all the cash was given to Democrats.
It is clear that J Street’s opposition to McCarthy’s pledge to ostracize Ilhan Omar is not one based on principled support for Israel, but rather loyalty to the Democratic Party. Its leaders have no respect for the rules and procedures of the House of Representatives, but are using their status as American Jews to bully McCarthy into submission. When he doesn’t comply, they can call him an antisemite, even as they themselves defend and protect antisemites.
J Street is not a Jewish, pro-Israel organization. They are a political action committee that exists to elect Democrats, regardless of how antisemitic they may be.