The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a non-profit U.S. group comprised of 51 national Jewish organizations, voted Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. EST to reject the dovish lobby J Street's request for admission.
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The self-declared "pro-Israel, pro-peace" organization was founded in 2008 and presents itself as an alternative to AIPAC, the powerful, veteran pro-Israel lobby. Its acceptance into the Conference of Presidents has stirred a lot of debate, as some member organizations are to the right of J Street, while others believe this is a test of whether the umbrella group is committed to representing the whole "pro-Israel" tent of organized American Jewry.
"This is 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," J Street said in statement issued after the vote.
Several large, mainstream Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America, were leaning toward admitting the lobby. According to a report in JTA, backers of J Street’s admission said they have reached “critical mass” for J Street’s entry - 34 of the conference’s 51 members. However the far-right Zionist Organization of America has made clear it will oppose their admission.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella organization representing hundreds of local Jewish Community Relations Councils, announced it would back the lobby’s request. “They fit in the picture of a big tent, which is the kind of community we believe in strongly,” JCPA’s president rabbi Steve Gutow told JTA.
Another major organization that backed J Street is the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents the largest Jewish denomination in America, and Americans for Peace Now, already a member, supports its admission as well and shares its mission of promoting U.S. involvement to push both Israel and the Palestinians towards a two-state solution.