J Street’s 'Big Tent’ is open only to one side - the anti-Israel and BDS-supporting hard left of its own position; pro-Israel centrists are censored.
By Alan M. Dershowitz
J Street, the American organization that calls itself pro-Israel and pro peace but that always seems to be taking positions that are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, is asking America’s Jewish leadership to have a big tent and to open its doors to J Street. While I generally support that position, it is imperative that J Street’s hypocrisy be exposed. J Street insists that all major pro-Israel organizations be open to speakers who favor opposing views—such as supporters of the BDS movements, supporters of the single secular binational state approach, and those who oppose Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
In the abstract, this open tent policy seems commendable. We should be committed to the open marketplace of ideas in which views prevail on their merits not on the basis of exclusion.
Now let’s see how J Street itself fares with regard to an open tent policy. It has categorically refused to allow speakers like me, who oppose J Street’s policies on Iran and other security matters, to speak to its members at its conventions. I have repeatedly and persistently sought an opportunity to present my perspective—which is shared by many American supporters of Israel—at the J Street convention, or at other events officially sponsored by J Street. When J Street invites BDS supporters and those oppose Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people to speak at its events, it claims that it does not necessarily support these positions, but it believes in encouraging its members to hear views that are different from its official positions. That is total nonsense. J Street only wants people to hear views to the anti-Israel hard left of its position. It categorically refuses to allow its members to hear views that are more centrist and more pro-Israel, such as my own.