5 Democratic presidential candidates to address J Street conference

Each candidate will be interviewed on stage by former Obama administration national security officials Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor.

By World Israel News Staff

A slew of Democratic presidential candidates is scheduled to speak at J Street’s 2019 National Conference to be held in Washington between October 26-29.

The controversial group’s conference will feature interviews on foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Michael Bennet, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a statement by J Street said.

“We’re excited that these presidential candidates will be sharing their visions for the future of U.S. foreign policy with thousands of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” stated J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.

“As our movement works to help defeat Donald Trump, we want to hear how those running to replace him in the White House plan to revitalize diplomacy, confront the global threat of rising ethno-nationalism and promote a more just and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

On October 27 and 28,  each candidate will be interviewed on stage by former Obama administration national security officials Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor.

“While many in the Trump administration seem eager to exacerbate conflict and drag us into war, now is the time for Democrats to chart a smart, principled and effective course for U.S. foreign policy,” Rhodes said.

“With its strong support for the Iran nuclear agreement and the two-state solution, J Street has been a leading advocate for diplomacy. We can’t wait to join them to dive into these issues with the presidential contenders,” said Vietor.

In addition to the presidential candidates, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat are scheduled to speak at the conference.

J Street advocates “policies that advance shared U.S. and Israeli interests as well as Jewish and democratic values, leading to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to their website.

However, J Street is viewed with a jaundiced eye by many in the American-Jewish community due to some of its positions that put it outside the mainstream.

In July, J Street supported the pro-BDS resolution introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and John Lewis (D-Ga).

The statement sai,d in part, that “efforts to restrict the constitutional rights of supporters of the Global BDS Movement ultimately only serve to garner more attention for their movement.”

Dan Diker, the Director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, described the group as a kind of gateway group into even greater radicalism for young Jews.

In an interview with Arutz7 in January, he said “We see a phenomenon by which students that begin across scores of college campuses – they begin as members of J-Street and they end up as members of radical anti-Zionist organizations,” he told the Israeli website.