Jeremy Ben-Ami

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Jeremy Ben-Ami
Jeremy Ben-Ami 02 (cropped).jpg
Jeremy Ben-Ami, 2016
Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
In office
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byWilliam Galston
Succeeded byElena Kagan
Personal details
Spouse(s)Alisa Biran
OccupationSocial activism
Known forServing as executive director of J Street

Jeremy Ben-Ami (born 1962[1]) is the President of J Street, a liberal advocacy organization in the United States dedicated to promoting American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israel-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. He is also the executive director of JStreetPAC, which endorses and raises money for federal candidates.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ben-Ami grew up in New York City. He is the son of Eve Ben-Ami and the late Yitshaq Ben-Ami. His father was born in Mandatory Palestine, but moved to the United States. Ben-Ami grew up in a Zionist home and became Bar Mitzvah at Temple Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan.[3]

He graduated from Princeton University and received a law degree from New York University.[4]


Ben-Ami was President Bill Clinton's Deputy Domestic Policy Adviser, and later Policy Director on Howard Dean's presidential campaign. He was most recently Senior Vice President at Fenton Communications. Earlier he was the Communications Director for the New Israel Fund and started the Israeli firm Ben-Or Communications while living in Israel in the late 1990s.[5] Ben-Ami has worked with Jewish peace groups, including the Center for Middle East Peace and the Geneva Initiative-North America.[6][7]


In March 2011, Ben-Ami commented,

We are witnessing a troubling trend across the board — with Israelis narrowing the boundaries of what's acceptable on a number of fronts.... There are efforts to narrow the definition of 'who is a Jew' that leaves many non-Orthodox Jews out of the tent, to narrow who can be a citizen by imposing loyalty oaths or other conditions, and now to narrow the definition of who's a friend to only those who agree politically... Israel's goal—as a small state in an unfriendly neighborhood—should be... to broaden not narrow its base of support, and each of these steps take it in the wrong direction.[8]

Ben-Ami's 2011 book A New Voice for Israel articulates a philosophy and an agenda for pro-Zionist, pro-peace Judaism based on religious and humanist values. He argues for a two-state solution and for U.S. efforts to promote the same. He also analyzes the dynamics and politics of Israel in the U.S. Jewish community.[9] Reviewing the book, Sari Nusseibeh wrote "Ben-Ami provides an arsenal of logistical and moral arguments stressing that not only is Israel's occupation over another people a threat to the Zionist dream and American interests in the region, but that it also runs counter to rabbinic values....".[10] Abraham J. Edelheit found the book's thesis to be one that Peter Beinart has already discussed, and that while he offers convincing evidence that Israeli policies are alienating young Jewish Americans, he fails to "explain how J Street will achieve anything but cementing their criticism of Israel. ".[11] Joseph Finlay, reviewing for Jewish Quarterly, wrote that Ben-Ami's critique of contemporary American Jewish leadership is 'entirely unoriginal' and gentle and that instead it is necessary to create "massive pressure on Israel to end the occupation, both directly and via national governments across the world. It needs to harness the energy of BDS and pro-Palestinian activists".[12]


Ben-Ami married Alisa Biran in 2001.[13] Biran, who was working in fundraising at a music school, happened to be the daughter of a cantor from Ben-Ami's childhood synagogue.[14]


  1. ^ Katz, Mandy. "The Man on J Street: The Story of Jeremy Ben-Ami". Foundation for Middle East Peace. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  2. ^ Kelemen, Michele (October 27, 2009). "New Lobby Pushes Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Mission". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  3. ^ Alisa Biran, Jeremy Ben-Ami, The New York Times, February 18, 2001
  4. ^ Alisa Biran, Jeremy Ben-Ami, The New York Times, February 18, 2001
  5. ^ Abramowitz, Michael (April 15, 2008). "Jewish Liberals to Launch A Counterpoint to AIPAC". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  6. ^ Besser, James (March 26, 2008). "New PAC To Offer Pols A Dovish Mideast View". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on April 3, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  7. ^ Deveson, Max (April 16, 2008). "Jewish lobby gains new voice". BBC News. Retrieved April 26, 2008.
  8. ^ Besser, James D. (March 22, 2011). "For The Love Of Israel?". The Jewish Week.
  9. ^ Ben-Ami, Jeremy (2011). A New Voice for Israel : Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-11274-2.
  10. ^ Nusseibeh, Sari (May 6, 2011). "Jeremy Ben-Ami's "A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation" (book review)". Washington Post. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  11. ^ Edelheit, Abraham. "A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation". The Jewish Book Council.
  12. ^ Finlay, Joseph. "A New Voice for Israel". Jewish Quarterly.
  13. ^ Alisa Biran, Jeremy Ben-Ami, The New York Times, February 18, 2001
  14. ^ Mandy Katz (March – April 2010). "The Man on J Street: The Story of Jeremy Ben-Ami; He's Been Called a Judas, But Unruffled, Continues Lobbying U.S. Policymakers to Push Israel Toward Peace". Moment Magazine. Retrieved June 13, 2011.

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