Opinion

Was J-list in the service of J-Street?

Even in Israel, the Daily Caller’s “Journolist” exposé has received its share of attention.  The Jeremiah Wright and Sarah Palin email threads were less interesting to Israelis than the Journolist discussion of whether to report on the Islamist background of the Ft. Hood Texas shooter.

The Israeli press didn’t get into the details of Spencer Ackerman’s thuggery of attacking conservative pundits as “racistsand his aggressive call “to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. … In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window….”

Pro-Israel consumers of the news as well as the many members of various pro-Israel media watchdogs such as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and HonestReporting, would undoubtedly want to see the publication of the Journolist discussions on Israel, Netanyahu’s election, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and the Goldstone Report.

Will those threads confirm their deeply held suspicions of media bias against Israel?

The evidence so far indicates that many members of Journolist support the Middle East policies of a Washington organization named J Street.  The supposedly “pro-Israel” J Street is a relatively new leftist lobby, PAC and educational foundation that calls itself “Obama’s blocking back” and takes positions critical or outrightly opposed to Israeli defense policy, the Netanyahu-led government, the Cast Lead operation, sanctions against Iran, and the interdiction of the Turkish IHH flotilla en route to Gaza.  Indeed, a survey of a couple dozen purported members of the J-List shows many of them to be vocal fans of the upstart J Street lobby.

That shouldn’t be too surprising considering that an Englishman named Daniel Levy, one of J Street’s founders, is listed on the J-List rosters.  So is Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films who sits on J Street’s Advisory Council.

Spencer Ackerman, the designer of the “call-them-racists-and-throw-them-through-a-window” strategy, proudly described J Street’s birth thus:

“Beginning today, a band of liberal Jews intends to transform the terms of the American debate over Israel — among the most delicate, controversial and combustible topics in politics.  Two young, leading liberal Jews — Jeremy Ben-Ami and Daniel Levy — plan to unveil the first-ever…”

On YouTube, Ackerman can be heard at a J Street event decrying the “injustice visited by Israeli Jews on Palestinians for 40 years.”

Brooklyn College professor Eric Alterman, and Journolist member, praised J Street in a New York Times op-ed and a Le Monde Diplomatique podcast interview.

J-List member Marc Ambinder promoted J Street from his editor’s perch at Atlantic.

Time Magazine’s Joe Klein wrote,

“J Street [is]… a liberal Israel-advocacy group that has been under vicious assault from right-wing Jewish extremists.

“[J Street’s director Jeremy] Ben-Ami seems perfectly mainstream reasonable to me. You wonder what the fuss has been all about.”

The Journolist’s Matthew Yglesias thought so highly of J Street that the organization lists at least four of his articles on their press links.  In 2008 he wrote, “Here’s an exciting development — J Street, a new, progressive, Israel- and Mideast-focused organization has launched.”

Penn State blogger Michael Berube wrote of J Street, “It ain’t perfect, but this whole J Street thing seems to be a start.  More of them and less of AIPAC, please.”