BY FREDA MIKLIN
J Street is an organization of Americans who are pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy, and promoters of a two-state solution. The annual event of J Street Colorado, held last month at Denver’s Temple Emanuel, featured Nancy Reichman, J Street National Board vice-chair, and Amy Spitalnick, CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, in a conversation about current events.
J Street describes its mission as, “Working in the American political system, in the Jewish community and with others with whom we share core values, we advocate for diplomacy-first American leadership and policies that advance justice, equality, peace, and democracy in Israel, in the wider region, and in the United States as well.”
Amy and Nancy talked about the ongoing war and the right of Israel to defend itself, adding, “We believe in the humanity of all people. Palestinians are also victims of Hamas,” emphasizing the need for a two-state solution.
The conversation turned to the need to educate using social media because young people get their news from social media and they are the group most likely to support Hamas, due to a lack of knowledge of history.
On antisemitism, Amy shared that it shows up from the right as a believe in “replacement theory,” and on the left, in a description of all Jews as white, powerful, and privileged. She also shared her observations that criticism for Israel’s policies quickly morphs into antisemitism and that feigned compassion for the Palestinian people is another way some people express their antisemitism.
When Nancy asked, “What about Islamophobia?” Amy responded, “At the end of the day, if one community is unsafe, we are all unsafe.”
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, along with Colorado Members of Congress Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, and Brittany Petterson sent greetings to the group electronically or via a representative. State Sen. Jeff Bridges attended the event in person.
Rep. DeGette said, “I grieve for the innocent people in Israel including innocent Palestinians caught in this horror. We must make sure all the hostages are returned safely. I appreciate J Street’s work toward a two-state solution.”
From Rep. Crow, “Thanks to J Street for all its work toward peace. In combat, I learned that you cannot defeat terrorism with military alone. Hamas’ brutality knows no end. It must be destroyed but we cannot lose our sense of humanity.”
Sen. Bennet said, “My heart breaks for the people of Israel, for innocent Palestinians, for Jewish people in Colorado and everywhere.”
Sen. Hickenlooper told the group, “I stand in solidarity with the Jewish people in seeking peace.”
Amy Spitalnick previously served as executive director of Integrity First for America, the group that won a groundbreaking lawsuit in November 2021 against the Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups responsible for the violence in Charlottesville in August 2017. The jury in that case awarded the plaintiffs over $25 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Nancy Reichman is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver. She was a member of the Denver Women’s Commission from 2015-2019 and a member of the Colorado Judicial Performance Commission in 2016 and 2018.