Named for a nonexistent road on the Washington, D.C., grid that would presumably lie adjacent to K Street (the natural habitat for lobbying firms in our nation’s capital), J Street is a four-year-old lobby that provides what it feels is a missing link in the pro-Israel political establishment. In fact, its founder Jeremy Ben-Ami, former deputy domestic policy director for Bill Clinton, believes that being pro-Israel sometimes means disagreeing with Israeli policy.
Ben-Ami, who advocates for a two-state solution and takes congressmembers — including Santa Barbara’s own Lois Capps — on tours of Israel, including the occupied Palestinian territory, will speak in a free public forum next Tuesday, November 13, at the Lobero Theatre (after a not-so-free fundraising dinner). He will talk about what he believes the newly reelected president can do to expedite a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Respondents from the Santa Barbara faith community will participate.
In a conversation with The Santa Barbara Independent, Ben-Ami shared his analysis of the current state of U.S.-Israeli relations, offering approbation for Obama’s handling of Iran, lamenting the difficulty of open debate about Israel policy within the Jewish community, and defending Lois Capps, who has taken flak from the right for being unfriendly to Israel.