Some of the country's most prominent Jewish liberals are forming a political action committee and lobbying group aimed at dislodging what they consider the excessive hold of neoconservatives and evangelical Christians on U.S. policy toward Israel.
The group is planning to channel political contributions to favored candidates in perhaps a half-dozen campaigns this fall, the first time an organization focused on Israel has tried to play such a direct role in the political process, according to its organizers.
Organizers said they hope those efforts, coupled with a separate lobbying group that will focus on promoting an Arab-Israeli peace settlement, will fill a void left by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and other Jewish groups that they contend have tilted to the right in recent years.
The lobbying group will be known as J Street and the political action group as JStreetPAC. The executive director for both will be Jeremy Ben-Ami, a former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House.
"The definition of what it means to be pro-Israel has come to diverge from pursuing a peace settlement," said Alan Solomont, a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser involved in the initiative. In recent years, he said, "We have heard the voices of neocons, and right-of-center Jewish leaders and Christian evangelicals, and the mainstream views of the American Jewish community have not been heard."