In episode 17 of the Israel Defense and Diplomacy Forum (IDDF), Prof. Chuck Freilich, former Israeli Deputy National Security Advisor, and Danny Ayalon, former Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Washington, discuss what being pro-Israel means today and the role of AIPAC and JStreet. Although Chuck comes from Israel’s center-left and Danny from the center-right, in this week’s podcast they are in almost full accord. Both are strong supporters of AIPAC and believe that JStreet plays a deeply harmful role.
Chuck agrees with J Street substantively on some of the issues, especially the need for a two-state solution and, at least until recently, the need to return to the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal). Nevertheless, both he and Danny strongly agree that the place to change Israel’s policies is in Israel and not by lobbying the U.S. government against the democratically elected government of Israel.
Both Chuck and Danny believe that JStreet causes a split in the pro-Israel lobby that greatly weakens the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, one of the fundamental pillars of Israel’s national security and, as such, that it constitutes a threat to Israel’s security. Whereas AIPAC is largely responsible for the $170 billion in U.S. aid that Israel will have received by the end of the current ten-year package, JStreet has yet to account for one cent of that. Moreover, JStreet is essentially a two-issue organization—the Palestinian issue and blind support for the Iran nuclear deal—without recognizing that Israel is much more than that, a complex array of domestic and foreign issues.
Both Chuck and Danny fully recognize the right of all Americans, Jewish and otherwise, to express criticism of Israel, much as Israeli Jews do, but believe that JStreet has crossed a line and simply become an anti-Israel organization. Danny begins the discussion by talking about the history of Zionism and what it means and argues that there is no Judaism today without Israel. Chuck could not agree more.
Join us as they agree and disagree, in detail and in-depth, always respectfully, on the critical issues Israel faces.
Chuck Freilich is a former deputy national security adviser in Israel. He is a senior fellow at The Miryam Institute and the author of “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” and the forthcoming “Israel and the Cyber Threat: How the Startup Nation Became a Global Superpower.” Twitter: @chuck_freilich
Danny Ayalon is a publishing expert with The MirYam Institute. He served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States from July 2002 to November 2006, during which time, relations between the two countries reached an all-time high.