Lenny Ben-David’s “unkosher characters”

Lenny Ben-David has made no secret of his disdain for J Street, but his most recent blog post lays bare the racist worldview which seem to drive his crusade to smear any and all who cross Israeli government policy on Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Lebanon.

Today, Ben-David has worked himself into a frenzy over the letter sent by 54 members of Congress calling on Obama to pressure Israel and Egypt to end the blockade on Gaza.

Ben David writes:

‘’And who appears first on the Minnesota Independent’s list of the letter’s backers? ‘Among the groups supporting the letter: J Street, The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), The American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), The Methodist Church, The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.’

With the exception of the rabbis, none of J Street’s colleagues on the letter are known for their fraternal feelings toward Israel.’’

The tribalism contained in that statement, as well as the paranoid nature of Ben-David’s reasoning, is quite telling.  After all, only the rabbis could possibly have “fraternal feelings toward Israel’’.

(Spencer Ackerman elaborated on this in his excellent post today.)

Any of the other J Street supporters—be they Muslims, Quakers, Universalists or Methodists–just exemplify how the group ‘’trucks with some unkosher characters,’’ concludes Ben-David.

In fact, the letter does mention the suffering of people in southern Israel in such a way that casts serious doubts on Ben-David’s thesis that the authors feel no “fraternal feelings toward Israel”.

The letter reads:

“We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.”

Undeterred, Ben-David goes on to rehash his old argument that as much as ten percent of J Street PAC’s contributors have Arab last names.

(Daniel Luban wrote about Ben-David’s attack on J Street back in October, and I wrote about the individuals who were funding the attacks on J Street PAC.)

Ben-David’s assertions that any contact with Arabs or, in this case, non-Jews, blemishes J Street’s pro-Israel credentials just hammers home the case for his being regarded as an increasingly brazen, if not deranged, racist.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. 54 members of Congress have asked the president to seek an end to the blockade of Gaza? I’m surprised. How many are Republicans? How many Dems?

  2. Carroll, thanks so much for the list. I’m pleasantly surprised to see that six members from my home state, Massachusetts, were signers. And my hack congressman from Vermont, too! I will try to give him some respect in future.

    I’m afraid I share the view you express in closing. Or, almost so. I think that there will be a Palestine 100 years from now. But I can’t see how Israel will exist as an apartheid state for more than another 30 or 40 years. As for the U.S., well, one wonders whether it will break up at some point. I can see the South and West becoming separate countries (though not of a kind!), with the Northeast and perhaps the upper Midwest forming some type of union with Canada, perhaps in close alliance with the EU. Such a breakup would only come if the U.S. government went bankrupt and the economy collapsed. Chances of that are . . . who knows? But the Great Recession heralds greater crises to come, in my view.

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