J Street founder and executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami will be in New York tonight to host a fundraiser for three Democrat House members, including Queens/Long Island Rep. Gary Ackerman.
Here’s a copy of a letter accompanying the invite, forwarded to us by someone who is not a fan of Ackerman or J Street.
I am writing today to invite you to an event for J Street, an organization I feel very strongly about. J Street is having an increasing impact on today’s political discourse about the Middle East and the involvement of congressional members and their support for J Street policies and policies are vital to the organization’s work.
On Wednesday evening, October 13, 2010 at 6:30pm, I am hosting a J Street PAC event benefiting Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY5), Dan Maffei (D-NY25) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME1) who each support J Street. They are excellent advocates for pro-Israel, pro-peace positions in Congress and courageous leaders on other progressive issues as well, such as health care and climate change. Jeremy Ben-Ami , the Executive Director of JStreet, will be there to introduce the Congress Members and give an overview of J Street’s work and the current state of the peace process in the Middle East.With direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians having begun, but yet again stalled this week over the settlement issue and the mid-term elections coming up in the U.S, this will be a great opportunity to hear from Jeremy about the intersection between U.S politics and the Middle East. Please consider attending, learning about the organization, and supporting its endorsed candidates.
Demonstrating significant political and financial support for candidates who support strong US leadership in moving the peace process forward gives Members of Congress the political cover they need to stand by the courage of their convictions on this issue. J Street PAC has already raised over $1,000,000 for 62 candidates in this election cycle, making it the single largest pro-Israel PAC. The more funds we can raise for our 62 endorsees — including our most recent endorsee, Ann Mclane Kuster in NH — the stronger our views and federal position become.
Thank you in advance for your time and support. I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important. If you cannot attend, please consider making a contribution to this vital work.
The host of the event is J Street advisory council member Alexandra Stanton.
In a call to The Jewish Week after this item was posted, J Street spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said the group said the organization "has endorsed both incumbents and challengers for open seats and will continue to do so." She said the group would not disclose whether Ackerman sought out the endorsement.
Ackerman faces Republican challenger James Milano, a physican at St. Francis Heart Hospital in Roslyn.
On Sunday, a group of right-leaning Jewish activists will gather at consecutive events in Hillcrest, Queens, and Great Neck to denounce Ackerman, who they believe has a mixed record on Israel because he has supported President Barack Obama‘s Mideast policies and did not support an initiative by Long Island Rep. Pete King calling for the U.S. to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council. The Council is often critical of Israel.
Included in the anti-Ackerman group are Jeff Weisenfeld, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, Jan Fenster, a former president of the Northeast Queens Jewish Community Council, Dr. Joseph Frager, president of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim (a group that reclaims formerly Jewish land in Jerusalem’s Old City) and others.
Ackerman is "the Jewish equivalent of [Yasir] Arafat," said Weisenfeld, "not because of terrorism but because he says one thing to a Jewish audience and one thing to another, and it’s all empty."
Of course, Weisenfeld and Co. aren’t happy with the J Street endorsement either.
J Street has been reeling after it was revealed that the lobby group concealed major funding from left-wing Israel critic George Soros.
More on the protest and Ackerman’s reaction to come.