Program Chair: Rainer Waldman Adkins
Pacific Northwest Political Director: Barbara Lahav
J Street is a national nonprofit group that advocates for American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts through diplomacy. In 2008, founder Jeremy Ben-Ami recognized that there are large numbers of American Jews and non-Jews who believe a new direction in American policy will advance U.S. interests in the Middle East and promote real peace and security for Israel and the region.
J Street has a twofold mission: To press urgently for a two-state solution before that window of opportunity closes, and to ensure a broad dialogue on Israel and the Middle East in national politics and within the American Jewish community. J Street seeks to complement the work of existing organizations and individuals that share its agenda.
J Street fundamentally supports Israel’s existence as a Jewish homeland and as a democracy guaranteeing equality to all its citizens. Its supporters envision an Israel whose people enjoy security with recognized borders, living in peace and prosperity alongside a Palestinian homeland where citizens can thrive and build their own country. J Street believes in an Israel guided by its principles, its ethics and its values, as enshrined in its founding documents.
J Street’s Seattle chapter reaches out into the local community by providing programming and sponsoring community events. Popular programs have featured author Gershom Gorenberg, who drew a large cross-denominational audience, and Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol, who spoke on the connection between theater and social action.
J Street Seattle members organize town hall meetings with members of Washington State’s congressional delegation, receive briefings from experts on the Middle East, organize fundraising events for J Street-endorsed candidates and host an annual membership gala reception.
Nationally, J Street’s third annual conference in Washington, D.C. in spring 2012 brought out 2,500 attendees, including 700 rabbinical cabinet members and more than 650 students. Washington State’s delegation of 18 included members from Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia and Seattle, and students from the University of Washington and The Evergreen State College. Seattle delegate Adkins was cited in The Forward’s recap of the conference.
The student-led J Street U (http://www.jstreetu.org) gives young leaders more options and choices, with existing chapters on over 50 campuses across the United States.
J Street PAC is the single largest pro-Israel political action committee in the country, according to Federal Election Commission filing data.
Increasingly, J Street is cited as a voice for moderation: “More moderate voices in the Jewish community — led by J Street, a Washington lobbying group — are expanding their ability to generate money and political capital for pro-Israel candidates who favor a less confrontational approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (The New York Times, May 30, 2012). J Street seeks to serve Israel by creating the space for an open conversation about its future, a conversation that includes all generations and denominations.