Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Rooting (Yelling) for J Street --In Anticipation of the Jewish Wisdom--
HIRAYAMA Kentaro / Journalist

November 12, 2009
"J Street," an American lobbyist organization purporting to "pro-Israel"lobby for peace, held the first national convention for 4 days in late October at a Washington hotel. This organization which named itself as "J Street" (which does not actually exist), punning the real "K Street," where many lobbyist houses are clustering around, was launched in 2008 by liberal-oriented Jewish people living in the United States to act in concert with candidate Barack Obama advocating reforms at the time of the American Presidential elections.

Different from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that has been engaged in political activities in the U.S. in almost unconditional support of the current Israeli government policies. the "J Street" is advocating that the Jewish colonization of the West Bank of the Jordan River by the Israeli government is harmful in order to promote the principle of both the Bush and Obama administrations that aims to establish a viable Palestinian state coexistent with Israel. They also argue that the redivision of Jerusalem city where so many religiously holy places gather together and even a dialogue with Islamic fundamentalist "Hamas" forces in Palestine are necessary. For that reason, they are regarded as "enemies" by rightwing Jews in Israel as well as in the U.S. The "J Street" is even accused as Arab agents on the ground that the letter "J" would represent the capital letter of "Jihad" (holy war), an appeal by Islamic extremists to induce people to fight against pagans.

Under such circumstances, James Jones, President Obama's aide in charge of national security attended the National Convention of the J Street. He made a keynote speech there, saying that the Palestinian issue is the Epicenter of the Middle-East problems. It is apparent that he is endorsing the activities of this organization. The Israeli Ambassador to Washington representing the Israeli regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netaniyahu declined to attend, but President Shimon Peres and Tzipi Livni, leader of the largest opposition party Kadima sent congratulatory messages to the national convention, and some 30 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate who are sensitive to the feeling of Jewish voters.

However, the Arab hopes and expectations on President Obama, who had promised in his speech in Cairo last spring his best efforts to improve relations with Islamic countries are rapidly withering away. The Arabs were deeply disappointed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who not only appraised Netaniyahu's statement as "an unprecedented forward-looking posture" but also appealed the Arab side to get softer. Netaniyahu had stated that the expansion of settlements, although with restraint, would continue, actually ignoring the request by Obama to unconditionally freeze the settlements in the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Accordingly, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas even suggested to resign. The wimpishness of President Obama, who wishes to avoid antagonizing the Congress with numerous domestic as well as Afghanistan problems to deal with, is understandable but frustrating for us, Japanese.

The report prepared by the expert team commissioned by the United Nations at the time when the settlement issue came out points out that regarding the bombing and ground attacks to Gaza by the Israeli forces since the end of last year through early this year, both the Islamic elements of Hamas who triggered the trouble and the Israeli armed forces are to blame. The latter should also be accused of war criminality and overreaction of reprisal like killing ordinary citizens, the report said. The Obama administration is cautious because if they press Israel too hard in this issue, they may create a stumbling block to the resumption of peace talks. What should be noted, however, is the fact that the leader of the expert team is Judge Goldman, a famous lawyer of South Africa, a Jew who has been assuming a sympathetic stand for Israel as well.

The Israeli occupation policy and American tolerance of it lie at the base of lingering anti-American feelings among the people in the Islamic world. To solve this deplorable problem, the participation in such initiatives by the Jewish people themselves in and out of Israel would be indispensable. No matter how hard the future may look, we should like to pay respect to Judge Goldman’s courage to this purpose and, for the moment, yell for the J Street.

The writer is former NHK commentator.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

平山健太郎 / 元NHK解説委員

2009年 11月 12日






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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Rooting (Yelling) for J Street --In Anticipation of the Jewish Wisdom--