News and Commentary

RACHMUTH: J Street’s #MeToo Problem

The progressive advocacy group J Street claims to be “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” But during their decade-long history, they have advocated for policies that can only be described as dangerous to the safety and security of the Jewish state and have continuously supported candidates that are adamantly anti-Israel. The organization misled the public for years – denying they are funded by anti-Israel billionaire George Soros. So, it’s not surprising J Street compromises its so-called values when it comes to protecting their far-left agenda.

Belying its pro-Israel pretense yet again, J Street already has a credibility issue; but now it has a serious #MeToo problem.

“Clergy play a critical role in our movement,” according to J Street’s website. Indeed, the group has assembled a collection of left-leaning rabbis to write letters that appeal to moral authority as they lobby Congress for policies that fit their progressive agenda.

With regard to the principles that “guide” these rabbis, J Street declares: “Our work is grounded in the values on which we were raised.”

Which of these rabbinic values allows sexual misconduct to go unchecked inside their rabbinical cabinet?

At least two rabbis affiliated with J Street have been suspended for sexual misconduct, as well as Jewish leader Steven M. Cohen, and a third has been expelled by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).

Rabbi Larry Bach was a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet but disappeared from its website after multiple accusations of adultery.

One of Bach’s accusers said he had “emotionally manipulated her into sex acts.” After multiple accusations and censures by CCAR, Bach resigned on April 24, 2018. The next month, Bach finally admitted what he did. Bach’s position was taken over by Rabbi John Friedman. J Street and Friedman have remained silent on Bach’s illicit sexual activity.

Rabbi Terry Bookman currently remains on J Street’s rabbinical cabinet, according to J Street’s website. Bookman has been suspended by CCAR under Section I-A (Family), Section I-B (Social), and Section V (Sexual Boundaries). As a result of that suspension, Rabbi Bookman is prohibited from providing any rabbinic services to individuals and communities. J Street has remained silent on Bookman.

Rabbi Dennis Math serves as a J Street “moral leader,” yet CCAR first suspended him and has now permanently expelled him:

Dennis Math had been suspended for violations of Code Section V (Sexual Boundaries). He resigned during the pendency of his suspension, which is a violation of the Ethics Code (Section VI.E.2.), pursuant to which he was automatically expelled and is no longer a member of the CCAR.”

It’s not just rabbinic immoral behavior and sexcapades that J Street turns a blind eye to. Apparently, J Street is also deaf to complaints by its female employees.

In 2014, a female employee accused event speaker Ari Shavit of sexual misconduct, but J Street seemingly ignored her assertions and subsequently did not inform other organizations. Three years later in 2017, after multiple complaints by employees about Shavit were made public, J Street continued to allow their college campus arm, J Street U, to hire Shavit.

Progressives have embraced the #MeToo movement to the point where every accused male is guilty unless they can prove their innocence. Almost every male.

For years, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami has been an adamant supporter of Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison. The former Nation of Islam member and personal friend of staunch anti-Semite Minister Louis Farrakhan was accused in August of domestic abuse by an ex-girlfriend.

“My brother and I watched our mom come out of pure hell after getting out of her relationship with Keith Ellison,” wrote Karen Monahan’s 25-year-old son on social media.

Ben-Ami has been silent over the accusations against Ellison, who serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

J Street board member Marilyn Katz has been silent over the numerous complaints and punishment. But she slammed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in numerous tweets. She shared an article titled, “Brett Kavanaugh Hates Women,” and in a separate tweet wrote:

So much wrong – it leaves me breathless – forget that he either is lying or drank so much and thought so little of women that he couldn’t remember an assault on one, Kavanaugh’s hostile, intemperate and just down nasty behavior disqualifies him from the bench # Kavanaugh hearings

J Street would do well to remember that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Sloan Rachmuth is Director of Research and Special Projects for the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.