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J Street drops bid to join US Zionist umbrella group

Liberal Jewish Middle East policy group that is frequently critical of Israel likely faced opposition from conservative groups in American Zionist Movement

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami addresses the liberal Zionist group’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. in October 2019 (Courtesy)
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami addresses the liberal Zionist group’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. in October 2019 (Courtesy)

JTA — J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, dropped its months-long bid to join the American Zionist Movement, the umbrella body for US pro-Israel groups.

The Forward this week quoted J Street officials as saying their effort to join AZM last August was frustrated by conservatives in the movement’s leadership who want to keep out liberal groups.

The movement’s leadership denied any plan to keep out J Street, saying it was observing protocols and seeking to be fair to newer members of the umbrella, waiting until they were installed to vote.

In World Zionist Congress elections last year, representation among North Americans took a rightward turn. The likelihood is that the newer, more conservative slate of electors would have rejected J Street.

J Street is often critical of Israeli government policies and has recently said defense assistance to Israel should be more closely scrutinized.

The lobbying group’s 2014 bid to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also was rejected.

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