J Street Founder’s Correspondence with State Department Raises Eyebrows

The founder of J Street, a prominent anti-Israel organization, reportedly had significant access to the Biden State Department and collaborated with top administration figures, including former Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, to influence political activities in Jerusalem, according to internal government emails obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of J Street, expressed gratitude to senior State Department officials for granting him an “open door” to the administration in June 2021. J Street, which receives funding from George Soros, advocates for conditioning U.S. aid to Israel and has criticized Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip. The organization has pushed for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s conflict with Hamas and proposed alternative strategies for addressing the situation.

Ben-Ami’s email exchange with Deputy Secretary of State Sherman, forwarded to other senior State Department staff, shed light on the administration’s coordination with left-leaning groups. This coordination aimed to exert pressure on the Israeli government to scale back a planned Jerusalem Day demonstration, where tens of thousands of Jewish Israelis were expected to march through the city with flags. The Biden administration sought to reroute the march away from Arab areas of Jerusalem and prevent Jewish access to the Temple Mount.

The decision to reroute the march came after clashes between Israeli officials and their U.S. counterparts, as tensions rose following Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. Ben-Ami expressed concern that the event could escalate hostilities with Palestinians.

While publicly calling for calm and restraint, the State Department privately expressed alarm over Israel’s decision to allow the march to proceed. U.S. officials were surprised by the Israeli government’s move, as they were led to believe that permission for the march would not be granted.

The Biden administration’s intervention in Jerusalem has sparked criticism from Israeli officials, who assert that the U.S. should refrain from involvement in the city’s affairs. Despite this, the administration has continued to pressure Israel to reroute the march away from sensitive areas.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment specifically on discussions with J Street but stated that U.S. officials engage with a diverse range of civil society actors both domestically and internationally.