WorldNetDaily smears J Street as " 'pro-Hamas' "


In a November 29 article on Hannah Rosenthal, President Obama's special envoy to combat and monitor anti-Semitism, WorldNetDaily asserted that J Street, an organization for which Rosenthal serves on an "advisory council," is "pro-Hamas." In fact, J Street "support[s] Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland" and has been praised by Israel's president and opposition leader.

WND calls pro-Israel group " 'pro-Hamas' "

WND: "Rosenthal on 'pro-Hamas' board." In an article asserting that Rosenthal's husband, Richard Phelps, worked on a project with Joel Rogers, who "was founder of the New Party," which "worked alongside the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN," WND writer Aaron Klein stated in a subhead that J Street is " 'pro-Hamas.' " Klein further wrote that J Street "brands itself as pro-Israel" and that "J Street, however, also supports talks with Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel":


J Street is a pro-Israel organization praised by Israeli president and opposition leader

WND article does not support claim that J Street is "pro-Hamas." Klein placed "pro-Hamas" in single quotation marks, but the term does not appear elsewhere in the article. Indeed, the only other mention of "Hamas" in the article is Klein's assertion that J Street "supports talks with Hamas." In a similar attack article on November 26, Klein asserted that J Street is "a controversial Israel-lobby group accused of working against the Jewish state."

J Street supports third-party efforts and "unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas." On its "Myths and Facts" page, J Street calls the claim that it supports negotiations with Hamas a myth: "J Street believes that Hamas' consistent opposition to the peace process, its support for terror against Israeli civilians, its use of violence for political purposes, and its repeated denial of the Holocaust are all reprehensible and abominable." J Street further states that "we support efforts by third parties to achieve reconciliation and a unity government" and "we would not oppose a decision by the Israeli government, the United States, or other countries to find unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas in order to advance U.S. and Israeli interests."

J Street is "pro-Israel," "pro-peace." J Street refers to itself as "the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement" and states that it "represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own -- two states living side-by-side in peace and security." According to its website, "J Street advocates for American policies that, in our view, advance the national interests of the United States, as well as the long-term interests and security of the state of Israel."

Israeli President Peres praised J Street. WorldNetDaily wrote: "Even the Israeli government has been distancing itself from J Street, with its ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, refusing to attend its annual dinner last month. Israeli Embassy spokesman Yoni Peled told the Jerusalem Post his government has some 'concern over certain [J Street] policies that could impair Israel's interests.' " WorldNetDaily did not note, however, that, as reported by Haaretz, Israeli President and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres sent J Street "a letter of congratulations on its activities."

Kadima leader Livni praised J Street. The Jerusalem Post reported on October 23 that opposition leader Tzipi Livni "sent a letter to the head" of J Street stating that "I would like to congratulate you on your inaugural national conference" and that "[l]ike you, I believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by realizing the vision of two nation-states, living side by side in peace and security, is in the best interest of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians and the region as a whole."

J Street has criticized Hamas. Decrying its use of the Holocaust as a political tool, J Street "unequivocally condemns Holocaust denial by Hamas officials." J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami further stated that "Hamas' continued use of such incendiary rhetoric -- not to mention its ongoing use of terror and violence -- undercuts efforts to find a path to its inclusion in a political two-state resolution to the conflict." J Street has also criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for referring the Goldstone Report to the U.N. Security Council because it "failed to include any mention of its findings regarding violence and terror by Hamas directed at Israel and its citizens in the south."

Rosenthal has long history of pro-Israel advocacy

As head of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rosenthal "was a tireless advocate for Israel." Rosenthal served as executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) from 2000 to 2005. In a November 23 statement "applaud[ing]" Rosenthal's appointment, current JCPA president and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow said, "During her tenure at JCPA, Hannah was a tireless advocate for Israel and social issues important to the Jewish community." The Forward reported on November 12, 2004, that "Rosenthal has adapted her organization to focus more on local communities, helping them to coordinate their Israel advocacy and other programs."

Jewish Week: Rosenthal "presided over a strong, well-organized response to ... Durban conference." In a November 24 editorial supporting Rosenthal's appointment, The Jewish Week wrote: "At JCPA, she presided over a strong, well-organized response to the 2001 United Nations Durban conference on racism and xenophobia that turned into a festival of outright anti-Semitism. She has a solid understanding of a Jewish world divided over many political and Middle East policy issues but united about the importance of Israel and the need to root out the scourge of anti-Semitism wherever it erupts." Indeed, in a July 18, 2001, action alert, Rosenthal wrote that JCPA was "playing a coordinating role facilitating the work of national and local member agencies" in confronting "ongoing efforts by Arab and Muslim states to use the United Nations World Conference Against Racism ... as a forum to attack Israel and to revive the old canard equating Zionism with racism." Rosenthal asked readers to urge members of Congress to sign a letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan "expressing serious concern about the divisive and hate-filled tone emerging in preparations for the" conference. In an August 27, 2001, press release, JCPA "praised President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell for ruling out high-level U.S. participation at" the conference. In a September 3, 2001, press release, JCPA announced that it had "walked out of the [conference] in the midst of anti-Semitic rhetoric and following attempts to single out Israel as a racist state."

Under Rosenthal, JCPA publicly supported "Israel's right of self defense against terrorism with all means necessary." In a December 3, 2001, press release, JCPA stated:

The JCPA supports Israel's right of self defense against terrorism with all means necessary. The defense of one's citizens is the first responsibility of any government. The time for waiting for Yasser Arafat to confront the terrorist groups operating in areas under Palestinian Authority control, particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and to put an end to suicide attacks and anti-Israel incitement, has run out.


It is now up to Israel to find the response that will prevent such barbaric attacks from occurring in the future. There is no simple way to pursue terrorists and those who harbor them. The JCPA will stand behind the Israeli government at it seeks to develop the most effective strategy for defending its citizens.

JCPA expresses its deep appreciation to President George Bush and senior administration officials for showing strong and unyielding support for Israel following these terrorist attacks and the Israeli government's initial response. The President's unequivocal call on Arafat to confront terror groups and end these attacks is reminiscent of the actions he has taken in Afghanistan. America and Israel stand united in the fight against global terrorism, which seeks to undermine democracy, freedom, and a commitment to seek genuine peace.

Rosenthal protested expulsion of Israeli scholars from British academic journals. On July 16, 2002, Rosenthal sent a letter to John Garside, the principal and vice chancellor of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, expressing JCPA's "dismay at the expulsion of two Israeli scholars ... from the boards of two British journals of translation studies run by Professor Mona Baker." Rosenthal wrote: "The two respected professors were dismissed as part of an academic boycott of Israel, simply because they are Israelis. Such action -- excluding scholars based on their nationality, race, or religion -- is an appalling violation of all recognized norms of academic and intellectual freedom and sets an immoral and dangerous precedent. The JCPA strongly urges you to speak out on this issue and immediately end any affiliation between the University and Professor Baker's journals." JCPA urged its members to promote "counter petitions" and to write similar letters.

JCPA campaigned for Arafat Accountability Act. On July 10, 2002, JCPA urged its members to ask members of Congress to co-sponsor the Arafat Accountability Act, which the organization said "imposes a number of sanctions immediately on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority until they cease violating their commitment to end violence and terror."

JCPA "condemned a Presbyterian Church delegation for meeting with and praising ... Hezbollah." On October 21, 2004, JCPA "condemned a Presbyterian Church delegation for meeting with and praising the terrorist group Hezbollah while on a fact-finding trip to the Middle East." JCPA wrote: "These actions do not occur in a vacuum. This meeting comes on the heels of the Church's troublesome call to begin a phased divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel."

JCPA issued statement calling on "Protestant leaders to reject divestment from Israel." In a November 29, 2004, statement released jointly with other Jewish organizations, JCPA "call[ed] on Ecumenical Protestant leaders to reject divestment from Israel and instead focus on real conversations about how to end the Palestinian-Israel conflict." The statements said that the signers were "startled that there are those within the Ecumenical Protestant community who believe an economic lever should be employed in a discriminatory fashion specifically against the State of Israel."

JCPA co-sponsored Israel Project's "press ambassadors" program. According to a July 1, 2004, Washington Jewish Week article (retrieved from the Nexis database), JCPA co-sponsored "The Israel Project's 'Ultimate Training Seminar for Pro-Israel Advocates' this week, which aimed to teach how to present a pro-Israel message to the public." The article quoted Rosenthal saying that "Israel advocacy is a bipartisan issue" and reported that Rosenthal "noted that working with the media is only one part of effective Israel advocacy, and relationships with government leaders and community groups are essential to keeping support high for the Jewish state."

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies, Nominations & Appointments
Aaron Klein
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