WASHINGTON, D.C. – The newly appointed chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) has sustained and controversial ties to the fringe anti-Israel lobby, J Street.
In early 2009, Wasserman Schultz hosted an event on Capitol Hill with J Street, a group then under fire for issuing a statement accusing Israel of collective punishment in Gaza and equating Israeli self-defensive measures with those of Hamas. J Street’s comments were so incendiary, they drew immediate condemnation from all corners of the Jewish community, including noted liberal Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who called the group “profoundly out of touch.” Yet Wasserman Schultz, only weeks later, showed her support for J Street (here and here), calling the controversial group an “organization that supports Israel and supports peace and is working to foster an advanced peace process,” placing her at odds with even the most liberal of Jewish Democrats. She also compared the group to pro-Israel stalwart AIPAC, described J Street’s goals as “worthy as well,” and later served as featured speaker for J Street’s first annual gala event in Washington, DC, despite many of her colleagues choosing to disavow the event. ”We are deeply troubled by incoming DNC Chairman Wasserman Shultz’s embrace of groups, such as J Street, that undermine Israel’s security,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said. “In blindly conferring legitimacy on fringe groups like J Street, she has raised serious questions about her own credibility and judgment.” Brooks added, “As the chairman of the DNC, Wasserman Schultz will be under increasing pressure to yield to the fringe left of the Democratic Party and further strengthen her ties to anti-Israel groups like J Street and anti-Israel donors like George Soros.”