The state of the Israel Lobby is healthy. J Street, the new liberal alternative to the venerable neocon AIPAC, has concluded its first big DC shindig, having received the imprimatur of the Obama administration in the form of an address by National Security Advisor Jim Jones. True, New York’s U.S. senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, withdrew the hems of their respective garments, presumably having been read the riot act by their big Jewish backers. But as Nathan Guttman makes clear in a fine piece in the Forward, after a few bumps in the road, the organization seems to be establishing itself comfortably in the center-left portion of American Jewish opinion.
What J Street has going for it is the fact that most American Jews are located right where J Street is–voting for Obama, supporting the Israeli softer line. The problem is that most of those folks are less involved–with Israel, with the big communal organizations–than the AIPACniks, including the big shots. J Street’s challenge is rounding up enough center-left types who care, or who can be persuaded to.