Rush Holt’s J Street Problem

For New Jersey 12th District incumbent Democratic Representative Rush Holt, the most alarming moment of his reelection campaign had to be last week’s endorsement by super-lawyer Alan Dershowitz of Republican challenger Joel Pollak against Illinois incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.  It was reportedly the first time Dershowitz has ever publicly endorsed a Republican candidate for the U.S.  House of Representatives.


Schakowsky is the darling of J Street, an ultra-liberal Jewish organization which claims to be pro-Israel but consistently attacks Israeli anti-terrorism efforts and defense policies and defends every effort of President Barack Obama to pressure Israel into making high risk concessions.


The darling of J Street in New Jersey is none other than Rush Holt.  He was a member of the J Street October 27, 2009 first annual Gala Dinner Honorary Host Committee.  It should be noted that the three leading Democratic supporters of Israel in the New Jersey U.S. House of Representatives delegation, to wit, Rob Andrews, John Adler, and Steve Rothman all refused to serve on this J Street committee.


Obama, of course, is the darling of J Street in the White House.  He is without question less supportive of Israel than any previous American President, even less supportive than Jimmy Carter.  His approval rating in polls of the Israeli electorate has at times failed to exceed a single digit.


J Street was established to counter the efforts of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a bipartisan organization which has for more than a half century most effectively represented the interests of the Israeli-American alliance in the Congress and White House.  After the recent Gaza flotilla crisis, J Street tried to thwart AIPAC’s efforts to get members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to sign letters supporting Israel in this matter.  To date, 307 members of the House of Representatives and 85 Senators have signed these letters.


Dershowitz is a staunch liberal Democrat and, until recently, actually defended Obama’s overall record on Israel.  The super lawyer’s pro-Israel credentials are impeccable, however.  Regarding J Street, Dershowitz has said “I reject J Street because it spends more time criticizing Israel than supporting it.  They shouldn’t call themselves pro-Israel.” 


Accordingly, it was no surprise that Dershowitz endorsed his former student at Harvard Law School Joel Pollak against Schakowsky, a J Street icon.  Now one must ask whether Dershowitz and other prominent Democratic Jewish critics of J Street will endorse Republican challenger Scott Sipprelle against Rush Holt in the 2010 New Jersey 12th Congressional District race.


The only two candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey endorsed by J Street PAC are Rush Holt and Don Payne.  The action of Holt which most endeared him to J Street was his signing of a letter in January, 2010 to President Obama which harshly criticized Israel for its blockade of Gaza.  The letter was signed by 54 members of the House of Representatives.


Holt knows he is in political hot water in his reelection effort because of his signing of the aforesaid January, 2010 letter.  His J Street endorsement is now a political albatross.


 As a matter of political damage control, Holt last week signed the aforesaid AIPAC – endorsed letter which supported Israel in the Gaza flotilla incident.  He has never, however, withdrawn his previous harsh criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.  Nor has he repudiated his J Street endorsement.


Key members of the New Jersey pro-Israel community are saying that Rush Holt is now running away from J Street as far as he can get.  The problem for Holt with regard to J Street, however, is that while he can run, he can’t hide.


Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian nations. 

Rush Holt’s J Street Problem