J Street Makes Its First Seven Endorsements
As promised last week, J Street — the liberal pro-Israel, pro-Palestine Jewish PAC — announced its first round of endorsements in a conference call with reporters. Their candidates, who support "aggressive diplomacy" from the U.S. on behalf of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are a mix of early-term incumbents and new challengers. To wit: Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.); Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat running in Ohio’s 15th district; Donna Edwards, a Democrat running in Maryland’s 4th district; Darcy Burner, a Democrat running in Washington’s 8th district; Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat running in Illinois’ 11th district; Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.); and Rabbi Dennis Schulman, a Democrat running in New Jersey’s 5th district. "Never before have American political candidates been endorsed for expressing these principles as core aspects of their foreign policy," said Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street PAC’s executive director.
Candidates on the conference call framed the endorsement as part of their support for Israel. "We need to support Israel, and ensure its survival," said Cohen. "The only way to do that is to resolve the conflict." Edwards thanked the PAC for "changing the political landscape [and] looking at old problems in a different way." Boustany, an Arab-American, said he wanted to "grow a coalition for a sensible, vigorous approach" to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The candidates weren’t concerned about drawing the ire of the traditional, right-leaning Jewish political organizations. "I don’t see this as an either/or situation," Boustany said. Edwards agreed. "I don’t think these are really competing efforts," she said.
Ben Ami said J Street’s website will act as an "online hub for small donors" to give to the PAC’s candidates. Its finance committee will also bundle up to $10,000 per candidate — and there will ultimately be "several dozen" candidates supported by the PAC, he added.