Graduation Year

Fall 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

International Relations

Reader 1

Edward Haley

Rights Information

© 2012 Ari A. Davis

Abstract

In the past five years J Street, a pro-peace, pro-Israel Israel Lobby, has grown to challenge AIPAC’s dominance in lobbying Congress to support Israel. Although still small in comparison to AIPAC, J Street has become influential in opening up dialogue among American Jews on what it means to be pro-Israel in today’s world. By openly criticizing conservative Israeli policy J Street has created an environment where liberal American Jews can support both Israel and a two state solution with a Palestinian state.

This paper examines American Jewish activism and the rise of AIPAC as the predominant Israel Lobby. It then argues that over the years AIPAC has supported expansionist Likud Party policy and has undermined Labor Party peace attempts. It has viciously attacked any person or organization critical of conservative Israeli policy. This paper then investigates opinion polls of American Jews and finds that, contrary to AIPAC, the majority of Jewish Americans are liberal and support a two state solution similar to J Street’s position. It then examines how J Street overcame an onslaught of attacks from conservative Jewish organizations. It argues that J Street has been successful because it has remained moderate in its policy stances and has been effective in countering attacks from conservative Jewish organizations while gaining the support of many mainstream American Jews who are frustrated with AIPAC’s policy.

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