The dovish Washington-based Israel lobby J Street is about to take over the Jewish community’s largest likeminded grassroots organization.The anticipated merger of Brit Tzedek V’Shalom with J Street will give the lobby its own national network of volunteers. It is but the latest in series of seemingly strategic acquisitions through which J Street – which calls for increased U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process – is seeking to develop a multi-tiered operation mirroring that of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director, made clear that any future cooperation would be within the framework of his organization. “They [Brit Tedek activists] will have to decide how they’d like to become active with us as individuals,” he said.
J Street currently has a budget of approximately $3 million and 22 employees on staff. This is dwarfed by AIPAC’s $70.6 million budget, of course. Americans for Peace Now, for example, a much older, well-established group, took in just $2.25 million last year.
Ben-Ami believes that his group’s financial base is the main incentive for Brit Tzedek to enter a cooperation agreement. “It gives them access to funding that Brit Tzedek could not achieve on its own,” he said.
“They’ve gone as far as they could and now they need us if they want to move to the next level.”