Upstart Israel lobby draws controversy

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Those concerns range from J Street’s position that the U.S. should not impose new sanctions on Iran to the group’s tepid criticism of a U.N. report that concluded that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war.

Despite others’ distancing themselves from J Street, the White House will be sending retired Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, to address the J Street conference.

“The White House always welcomes the opportunity to discuss the president’s views and engage in a dialogue with interested parties,” White House spokesman Thomas Vietor said.

Another senior White House official told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation that Mr. Jones’ decision to speak to J Street was part of a broad outreach effort to U.S. Arab and Jewish groups.

On Monday, Mr. Jones spoke to AIPAC’s board of directors and last week he addressed the American Task Force on Palestine. Mr. Jones will also speak to the Arab American Institute’s conference later this month.

J Street’s critics say the group tolerates those who would make Israel a pariah.

Earlier this year, it supported a Washington Jewish theater company’s decision to show Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children,” a play that depicts in its final scene a monologue of a parent explaining that Jews must rationalize the killings of Palestinian children in Gaza.

On Monday, J Street’s organizers canceled a panel at the conference after some bloggers posted a video on the Internet of one of its poets, Josh Healey, reciting a poem in which Jews were compared to Nazis writing “numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza.”

One speaker still on the list is Salam al-Marayati, founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Among other things, Mr. al-Marayati said during a radio interview on Sept. 11, 2001, after the terrorists had struck U.S. soil, that Israel should be considered a suspect.

“If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list,” he said. He has since said he regretted that statement.

• Eli Lake contributed to this report.

About the Author
Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter writes the daily “Hot Button” column for The Washington Times. She was formerly a national political reporter for, the leading online publication for news, opinion and talk. Prior to that, she was a reporter for Human Events. Ms. Carpenter has made numerous media appearances that include segments on the Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC and other ...

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