What To Make of the J Street Endorsements?

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J Street, the new “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group, announced its first PAC endorsements today. The roster of seven candidates, a mix of incumbents and challengers, includes Lebanese-American Rep. Charles Boustany, a Republican; netroots favorite Donna Edwards (MD-04); Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), who is running again after nearly beating a Republican incumbent in 2006; and Darcy Burner (WA-08), author of a plan to get out of Iraq.

I think there will be two indicators of J Street’s influence over the next year or so: (1) Will the PAC be able to marshall small donors to put serious money behind these candidates? (2) Will the candidates—during their campaigns or, if they win, early in their terms—make a meaningful attempt to broaden the debate over American policy on Israel/Palestine?

As to how the candidates might broaden the debate, J Street’s profiles of the endorsees offer clues. They contain a lot of rhetoric about expanded American engagement in the region and strong support of a two-state solution. To the Arab world—and, in reality, the international community beyond the US—these are baby steps. J Street’s endorsees aren’t talking about, say, how to put an end to Israeli settlement expansion, or about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Still, in the present American context, the endorsements have to be seen as a positive development.

After the jump, a video of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introducing the endorsements:

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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