10/01/2010 12:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and the Israel Project Get It Wrong on J Street and Settlements

If Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi's recent attack on J Street are so-called "facts" that her organization circulates in Washington, it's no wonder why many pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans are frustrated with the state of pro-Israel advocacy.

J Street's actual position on settlements appears to either be lost on Laszlo Mizrahi or intentionally ignored to score a political cheap shot.

To clarify, we do believe settlements are a serious obstacle to peace and continued construction is a moral, strategic, and security nightmare for Israel. And no, we do not believe that settlements absolve Palestinian and Arab leaders from living up to their own commitments and doing more to advance the cause of peace.

Furthermore, her statement raises serious questions about her own organization's views about settlements.

  1. Does Laszlo Mizrahi believe settlements even rise to the status of an obstacle to peace? Would they even qualify as a mild annoyance? Her statement studiously avoids saying settlements are a problem at all. If she does believe that, she should say so.
  2. Does Laszlo Mizrahi acknowledge that Israel faces an inevitable and terrifying choice between democracy and its Jewish character if there is not a negotiated two-state solution soon? If not, does she then disagree with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and current Defense Minister Ehud Barack who made similar assessments? If she does agree with these Israeli leaders, then why is she so flip about the impact of settlements on the peace process and the death blow that continued settlement construction may very well deal to the two-state solution?
  3. Does Laszlo Mizrahi disagree with President Obama that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should extend the partial settlement moratorium and give a chance for these nascent peace talks to succeed? If yes, she should say so.
  4. Does Laszlo Mizrahi believe that the use of Holocaust imagery and language is kosher in defending settlement expansion? Just last year, her organization came under fire from J Street and others for using the term ethnic cleansing (!) to describe the evacuation of settlements as part of a negotiated peace deal. She later retracted the language. But now she's used the term "Judenrein" in her latest statement. Which is it? Does she understand that many Americans find the use of such language offensive and wrong to make a political point?
TIP's strategy on settlements appears to be, both then and now, when they can't win the argument, use white-hot rhetoric, distortions, and maybe even hint at the Holocaust to distract from the substance of the matter.

But if her organization is to truly spread the "facts" about the Middle East in Washington, it would behoove her to not just answer these questions directly, but also to tell the truth about settlements and about J Street. Israel and the cause of peace would the better for it.