Mitz-Vote

Ackerman Breaks With J Street – A Sign of Trouble Ahead for Dovish Lobby?

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share

J Street has lost one of its key supporters in Congress, as New York Democrat Gary Ackerman announced he is disassociating himself from the group because of their stance on condemning Israel’s settlement activity in the UN General Assembly.

Now, while it is true that J Street’s power in Congress isn’t judged by one member’s decision to take their endorsement or by another who gives it up, Ackerman is a special case.

First, he is a leading Jewish voice in Congress. Ackerman’s annual deli-style fundraiser event on Capitol Hill brings together pretty much every Jew who has anything to do with politics in this town. And his New York district – New York’s 5th – is about as Jewish as it gets, ranking among the 10 most Jewish districts in the nation.

Second reason for concern – Israel. Gary Ackerman is one of the top authorities in the House on all things relating to Israel. He chaired the subcommittee on Middle East (and will now be the ranking Democrat on it) and has strong ties with leaders from Israel and Arab countries. Ackerman is the kind of congressmen J Street really needs – mainstream, knowledgeable, credible with the Jewish community.

And there’s a third reason why loosing Ackerman is bad news for the dovish lobby – he is great with words. And this means that you don’t want to get on his wrong side, because then Ackerman can easily whip up a press release which includes phrases like this to describe J Street’s approach to the UN vote: “It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.”

To be fair, J Street did issue a response which argues, among other things that Ackerman did not understand the group’s nuanced approach to the issue. But whatever the reason is, J Street is now without Gary Ackerman, which leaves them low on Jewish congressmen, especially from large communities such as New York.

Here are a few things to look for in the coming weeks that can help assess J Street’s direction:

•The group’s second national conference is coming up next month. This is a good opportunity to look at who will be on the congressional welcome committee and compare it to last year. Bigger list means bigger support.

•Who will be the administration official to speak at the conference? Last year former national security adviser James Jones promised that the Obama administration will send a representative to each conference. Interesting to see who it will be.

•Another indicator – the media. A year ago J Street was the hottest story not only in the Jewish but also in the national press. Will it get the same media-hype?

And of course there is the question of the Israelis. Ambassador Michael Oren and J Street already kissed and made up for last year’s snub, but will he come to a conference of a group that does not oppose condemning Israel in the UN on the settlement issue?


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: J Street, Gary Ackerman

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.