Is J Street really a pro-Israel group? The lobbying organization never tires of claiming it is.
Yet what pro-Israel group would invite a man to speak at its upcoming conference who's called for Israel's destruction, stating that "the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948" was "a crime," and has vowed to "work to overturn the injustice"?
The man who signed this Sept. 17, 1993 statement issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council was its executive director, Salam Al-Marayati, who will be speaking at J Street's Oct. 25-28 conference.
Al-Marayati and MPAC have made other hateful anti-Israel and anti-American statements:
· A few hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Marayati said on a radio show: "We should put the State of Israel on the suspect list" of possible 9/11 perpetrators.
· After a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria on Aug. 8, 2001, his organization issued a statement calling the attack "the expected bitter result of the reckless policy of Israeli assassination … ."
· He has likened Israel's supporters to Hitler.
· In 1997, Al-Marayati also gave a chilling, anticipatory justification for anti-American terrorism, saying: "Where Israel goes, our government follows. … What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences."
Some of these statements caused Al-Marayati's 1999 appointment to a U.S. congressional committee on terrorism to be rescinded.
J Street's invitation to Al-Marayati makes one wonder whose side the organization is on.
J Street pressures Israel to make concessions, yet says virtually nothing specifically about the 16-year failure of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups. The lobby group also said nothing about Fatah's recent conference, which proclaimed the legitimacy of terrorism against Israel and honored, by name, killers of Jews as heroes.
Additionally, J Street showed its animus toward Israel by citing polls inaccurately to bolster its claim that Israelis and American Jews want greater Israeli concessions, and agree with President Barack Obama's pressure on Israel to stop Jews building in eastern Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank.
In June, J Street campaign director Isaac Luria said: "A poll recently showed that 52 percent of Israelis want a freeze on settlement construction and 56 percent want Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to President Obama's call for an end to settlement construction."
In fact, the Dahaf Institute poll actually showed that Israelis favor continued natural growth of Jewish communities by 54 percent to 42 percent, and that they believe that Obama's policies are not good for Israel by a margin of 53 percent to 26 percent.
J Street simply buried the evidence of actual support for natural growth and cited only a contradictory general finding of support for a construction freeze. More damning still, the only other partial truth in J Street's claim — that 56 percent of respondents said that they wanted Netanyahu to agree to Obama's demands that — left out the major point that they favored this only if the alternative meant U.S. sanctions.
Even more disturbing, despite strong support by most Israeli and American Jews for Israel's campaign last January to stop Hamas rockets from Gaza hitting Israeli towns in the south, J Street opposed the operation. It has even challenged the adoption of more robust sanctions against Iran right now.
All of these issues have enhanced relevance in view of the fact that J Street receives tens of thousands of dollars from dozens of Muslim and Arab-Americans, according to Federal Election Commission filings cited by The Jerusalem Post, as well as money from those connected to Palestinian and pro-Iranian advocacy groups.
J Street continues to relentlessly display its support for the Palestinian cause. We urge the group to start doing the right thing by rescinding its invitation to Salam Al-Marayati and ceasing to accept donations from those hostile to Israel.
Morton Klein is president of the Zionist Organization of America.