J Street U, the campus arm of the left-wing lobby advocating for a two-state solution, said it was “dismayed” by a summit against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement hosted by pro-Israel billionaire philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban this weekend in Las Vegas.
In an email addressed to “leaders of the American Jewish community” who planned to attend the summit, J Street U—which along with its parent organization was not invited to the gathering—wrote, “Like you, we are concerned about the growth of the BDS movement on college campuses. Far from an abstract question, this is a live issue for us: as college students, campuses are our home. That’s why we’re dismayed by reports that representatives from several of your organizations will attend a closed-door anti-BDS summit this weekend, hosted in Las Vegas by major donors including Sheldon Adelson.”
Often scrutinized for stating its opposition to BDS but simultaneously partnering on campus events with pro-BDS groups, J Street U wrote that students “aren’t drawn to support BDS because they reject the existence of Israel; they come to support BDS out of a genuine frustration with the ongoing tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 48-year Israeli occupation.”
“Only honestly acknowledging the reality of occupation, and offering an alternative path of real advocacy toward a peaceful solution, will convince progressive students to reject BDS,” J Street U added. “But in meeting behind closed doors, without student input, your organizations are doubling down on a failed strategy: pouring huge amounts of donor money into efforts that lack substance and actively downplay the occupation and key questions facing Israel today.”
While J Street U’s email criticized American Jewish leaders for catering “to right-wing donors like Sheldon Adelson” through attending the Las Vegas summit, the group did not mention that the summit was co-hosted by Saban, a major donor to the Democratic Party.