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'Anti-Israel' group recruiting across nation

J Street member and former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg

A controversial lobby group accused of working against Israel will be hosted by a Jewish organization at the University of Pennsylvania as part of an initiative to make the group known in local venues across the U.S.

J Street’s inaugural university event Feb. 4 will be broadcast live from the university to 24 U.S. college campuses.

The event features a professor who accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, a supporter of a recent U.N. report charging Israel with war crimes and a host of personalities involved with a “Fast for Gaza” initiative that demands Israel negotiate with the Hamas terrorist organization.

J Street brands itself as pro-Israel. It states on its website it seeks to “promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.”

But the group also supports talks with Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter seeks the destruction of Israel. The group opposes sanctions against Iran and is harshly critical of Israel’s anti-terror military offensives.

Next week, J Street is renting space from the Hillel Jewish student organization at the University of Pennsylvania. J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami will broadcast a speech during the event, which will be simultaneously broadcast at other U.S. universities and a local sites throughout the country, including synagogues and Jewish community centers.

Hillel promotes itself as the largest Jewish campus organization in the world and is known as the center of mainstream Jewish life on campuses across the U.S.

J Street’s event at Penn is being hosted by characters with controversial views on Israel, including:

J Street’s event at the University of Pennsylvania is opposed by a new pro-Israel activist organization calling itself Z Street, which is planning a protest event to coincide with J Street’s outreach day.

“It is a shame that there will be any connection between Hillel and J Street,” Z Street co-founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus told WND. “J Street does not deserve to be considered a mainstream pro-Israel organization as it has demonstrated repeatedly that it is ‘pro-Ishmael’ and not ‘pro-Israel.'”

Howard Alpert, director of Penn’s Hillel group, told WND today he agreed to rent space to J Street on the condition the group “does not advocate actions that will materially harm Israel or its representatives such as boycotts, sanctions or judicial action; and that they present their views with civility.”
“Consistent with its academic orientation and location on the university campus, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia provides a platform for speakers with different points of view on Israel,” Alpert said.

Meanwhile, even the Israeli government has been distancing itself from J Street, with its ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, refusing to attend its annual dinner in October. Israeli Embassy spokesman Yoni Peled told the Jerusalem Post his government has some “concern over certain [J Street] policies that could impair Israel’s interests.”

The Powerline blog previously documented how far-leftist Israelis are influential in J Street leadership, including former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg, who generated controversy when he stated, “To define the state of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end.”

Another key J Street member, Mideast expert Henry Siegman, has compared Israel to apartheid South Africa.