After it was denied admission to a major umbrella group of American Jewish organizations, J Street decided on Thursday to hit back with a sarcastic petition targeting Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, and calling for his dismissal.
"We recognize the need for an open and honest conversation on Israel in the United States. We appreciate you being honest. Now we'll work on the openness."
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The dovish lobby, that supports a two-state solution, claims the rejection of their bid to join the American-Jewish body "validates the reason for J Street: those claiming to speak for the entire Jewish community don't in fact represent the full diversity of pro-Israel views in our community."
Aiming a personal attack at Hoenlein, the group also declared in its petition that "a new voice is needed to represent the true majority of American Jews - and non-Jewish supporters of an Israel at peace."
On Wednesday, J Street presented a less combative tone, saying it was a "sad day for us, but also for the American Jewish community and for a venerable institution that has chosen to bar the door to the communal tent to an organization that represents a substantial segment of Jewish opinion on Israel."
Despite the support of several venerable American Jewish organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Anti-Defamation League, the motion failed to receive the two-thirds majority required for admission into the 51-member umbrella group.
J Street said that it applied to the Conference of Presidents because it values "Jewish community and the concept of a broad tent of pro-Israel organizations that truly represents our community’s diversity and dynamism" but that its "bid was thwarted by organizations on the right of the community who do not share those same values."
At the secret-ballot vote in the umbrella group's New York offices, 22 organizations voted against J Street's inclusion and three abstained, leaving the "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" lobby with only half of the votes it needed.
The right-wing Zionist Organization of American lobbied heavily against J Street's admission, citing the dovish group's association with BDS supporters and its previous statements on Israeli positions.
J Street was founded six years ago as a liberal counterpart to the traditional pro-Israel lobby in America, AIPAC. The group, which has spawned many college chapters, chose to focus on the gains it has made: "After only six years, we have the third largest annual gathering of any American Jewish organization, over 800 rabbis have joined our Rabbinic Cabinet, and we have chapters in 40 cities and states."