In a recent post, Noah K. referred to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's "snub" of J Street, reported by Ha'aretz's Natasha Mozgovaya. To express the matter with a little more precision: Oren is refusing to personally attend an upcoming J Street conference, opting to send more junior representatives. In an apparent response, Tsipi Livni, Kadima chairwoman and head of the opposition in the Knesset, sent a note commending the new organization for its conference.
The Driving Change, Securing Peace conference, set for October 25-28, is, I think, J Street's first major public event. General James Jones, the National Security Advisor to the President, will be there as will Martin Indyk and a number of Congressional representatives. But the conference has not yet been able to attract many other senior political figures. It looks very interesting though. J Street has the potential to energize a young, intelligent and engaged base of left-of-center supporters, who will surely make up the next generation of American Jewish leaders. The trick will be to go from being merely a "voice" or a "forum" to making a difference in House and Senate races and in policy decisions by the White House.
Currently, J Street is supporting the reelection of Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee, 9th District), a member of the Progressive Caucus. Rep. Cohen faces a potentially tough, racially-charged contest for reelection in November 2010. Although he easily beat his Democratic opponent in the last election, despite a smear campaign, he will be running against a former Memphis mayor, who has pledged to make the contest for the predominantly African-American district one of "race, representation, and power." Cohen's embrace of J Street, it appears, may have cost him AIPAC's support.
Some readers might remember Cohen from his appearance on the Colbert Show:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Better Know a District - Tennessee's 9th - Steve Cohen|