J Street & Its Fellow Travelers
To much media hoopla, the J Street organization’s conference has come and gone and we have but one point to raise for folks to consider.
In advance of the conference, J Street’s leader, Jeremy Ben Ami, laid out his views on the key issues of the day to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.Ron Kampeas rounded up the resulting criticism of Ben Ami in the left-wing blogosphere which foreshadowed the incidents of conference attendees booing Rabbi Eric Yoffie and panelist Matt Yglesias being surprised to see that there were conference attendees who did not wish to be associated with being “pro-Israel.”
The commentators on the Bible teach that in the exodus from Egypt, with Pharoh’s empire in ruins, many non-Jews traveled out with Moses and “the winning team.” They are known as the “erev rav” – literally a “mixed multitude.” The sages ascribe to these “fellow travelers” the cause for many of the sins of the Jews (most notably constructing the golden calf) as they traveled through the desert to the land of Israel.
Many commentators, not necessarily hostile to J Street, have noted that J Street’s leadership has sent mixed messages about its commitments and positions. Having put themselves on the map, they now must make some real choices about who they are and whether they will define or be defined by their erev rav.