Luncheon lineup reflects J Street’s growing influence

SHARE Luncheon lineup reflects J Street’s growing influence

One of the unspoken messages of J Street’s Chicago luncheon Friday was that the 5-year-old liberal Israel advocacy group occupies a more-visible place in the political spectrum than it did just a few years ago.

“J Street is in a far different place than … three or four years ago,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami told the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Friday. “Our political action committee now endorses nearly half the Democrats in Congress, we’ve raised more money than any other political action committee in the Jewish community that works on Israel, our lunch [Friday] at which Ambassador [Carmi] Gillon is the keynote speaker — Mayor Emanuel is speaking, [Sen.] Dick Durbin is speaking, David Axelrod is speaking — that is a very significant showing that four years ago wouldn’t have happened.”

The luncheon, which honored civic leader Susan Manilow, was at the Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth.

Top politicians, including Durbin, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Timothy Kaine, D-Va., “take our endorsement thankfully and openly,” Ben-Ami said. ” … I think there has been a big change in these dynamics.”

J Street is perceived as more mainstream than in the past because more American Jews share its perspective, he said.

“Where the change is happening is an understanding that to be pro-Israel and to support its existence and defense doesn’t mean that you have to support every policy of the government of the state of Israel, and as the secretary of state was pointing out just [Thursday] the state of Israel faces a monumental strategic choice,” Ben-Ami said. “It is at a fork in the road of whether it is going to continue to go down a path of settlements and perpetual conflict and essential annexation of the West Bank … or historic compromise of land for peace and resulting in two states for two peoples.”

Follow BackTalk on Twitter@CST_Editorials

The Latest
Quinn Keen is among 46 known Illinois residents who have faced federal charges stemming from the attack on the Capitol. The events of that day are also at the center of a court battle over whether former President Donald Trump is disqualified from the presidency.
Rep. Mike Bost called Trump’s endorsement “a tremendous honor” and vowed to help Trump win back the White House. And while Darren Bailey’s campaign downplayed the endorsement as an example of the former president’s support of GOP incumbents, the campaign reiterated Bailey “proudly stands” with the former president.
The footage came from cameras worn by French and her partners, Carols Yanez and Joseph Blas, during a Aug. 7 2021 traffic stop.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles will be at the center of the NFL world one week from Tuesday, holding court — publicly and privately — at the NFL Scouting Combine as he determines what the team will do at quarterback.