Nine members of Congress aligned with the far-left group J Street either abstained or voted against a House bill that would reinforce the U.S.’s commitment to the State of Israel.
The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 soared through the House on a vote of 411-2. That was without the help of 10 J Street stalwarts, one who voted against the bill and nine who originally voted "present."
The bi-partisan bill, which was sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, reaffirms Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of terror attacks and redoubles Congress’ support for the "unique and special relationship" between America and the Jewish state. The bill also expresses support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rep. John Dingell (D.,Mich.), a J Street 2012 endorsee, voted against the bill.
Those who voted present include: Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D., Calif.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Pete Stark (D., Calif.), Andre Carson (D., Ind.), Donna Edwards (D., Md.), Betty McCollum (D., Minn.), Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Earl Blumenauer (D- Ore.). All have either been endorsed by J Street or have publicly been affiliated with the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobbying group.
Two other J Street supporters, Reps. Bob Filner (D., Calif.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.), initially did not vote in favor of the pro-Israel bill but later amended their votes to express support.
J Street itself was "neutral" on the enhanced security cooperation bill, though the organization regularly touts its self-described backing of a strong U.S.-Israel alliance. A J Street spokesperson did not respond to a request seeking clarification of its position.
Elliott Abrams, a former National Security Council adviser to President George W. Bush, slammed J Street for not taking a principled stand in favor of the legislation.
"There is a genuine bipartisan consensus in Congress supporting increased military aid to Israel, but J Street appears to be outside it. When you move left in both the American Jewish community and on the Hill, you find that support for Israeli security becomes a matter of slogans rather than of actions," Abrams said.
"J Street ought to issue a tough statement criticizing the members who opposed the US-Israel Security Cooperation Act, but I would not hold my breath."
J Street’s apathy led one prominent pro-Israel activist to express indignation.
"It’s disturbing that J Street can’t bring itself to support legislation that would make it U.S. policy to advance a two-state solution," said the source. "The only conclusion one can draw is that J Street does not support the two-state solution, but supports a one-state solution of Palestine."
The activist also expressed concern over those congressmen who did not vote in favor of the bipartisan legislation.
"It’s extremely concerning that members of Congress would have such disdain and opposition to the state of Israel that they would find opposition to the U.S.-Israel relationship itself," said the source. "Clearly, J Street will attract the most liberal, anti-Israel members of the House, so it’s no coincidence the Democrats who found themselves unable to support basic U.S.-Israel relationship legislation align themselves with J Street."