Washington, Mar. 27 - Israel needs the support of American Jews who may still disagree with particular policies, a top Israeli envoy told delegates at the J Street national conference Monday night.
"We need you to stand with us," Barukh Binah, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington said at the gala event. "It is as simple as that and someone ought to say it. Internal activism is a central part of democratic society, but pressures on the elected government of Israel can present us with a problem, davka when we need you the most."
Davka is a forceful Hebrew term meaning “especially.”
J Street is an organization founded in 2008 that advocates for a two-state solution but has been critical of the current Israeli government. Binah is the first Israeli envoy to address the group in its history.
Binah also said the group has to be careful in showing both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when lobbying Congress and bringing congressmen on trips to Israel. Six female members of Congress, all Democrats, joined J Street on a six-day mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories in late February of this year.
“I urge you to strive for balance, so that these lawmakers may become friends of Israel who might be critical, and not critics of Israel who are not friends,” Binah said.
Yet Binah, who started in his current position two months ago, praised J Street for its condemnation of international boycott efforts against Israel and its recent support for stringent sanctions on Iran.
“Regarding Iran, this radical, ideological regime represents an unparalleled danger to world peace and stability and a very serious threat to Israel, as its leaders continue calling for our annihilation,” Binah said.
The J Street confab attracted around 2,500 attendees this year, according to the group. It also reached out to members of some other American Jewish organizations that criticize J Street for weakening Israel through its positions and activities.
“I know that they have a constituency that’s interested in models for peace,” The Israel Project’s President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi told the Jerusalem Post of her organization’s decision to participate, which she said came at her initiative. “I want to engage them with our engagement with Palestinians and the Arab world.”
Israel Uncensored, an Arabic Facebook page run by The Israel Project (TIP), has more than 376,000 people who "like" the page on Facebook and has had over 30 million views since April 2011. The Israel Project also has a program that reaches out to Arab Journalists.