the key to AIPAC’s emergence was a Manichean view from America; the fight against the Evil Empire, or since 9/11, the clash of civilizations. In this drama, Israel became cast as America’s biggest regional aircraft carrier. AIPAC has succeeded by staying close to American hardliners, arguing against pressuring Israel.
what J Street really represents–what progressives argue for–is not just support for Israel as such, but for a globalist strategy in which Middle East peace is a key pillar; a strategy of collective security agreements, regional alliances, and international peace-keeping; of patient engagement over the unilateral use of force.
J Street will become a focus for a coalition supporting goals that would make President Obama’s worthy of his Nobel: deescalation in Afganistan, containment of (not an attack on) Iran, building cooperation with the EU.
This larger coalition is only beginning to get mobilized. General Jones’s agreement to come to the conference suggests the administration will be counting on it. Once a healthcare bill is enacted, and the fear of dissipating the solidarity of its Congressional supporters passes (does Obama really want to pick a fight with Joe Lieberman now?), expect the will of this administration–and this coalition–to be felt powerfully in Jerusalem and Ramallah.