If you’ve missed the news, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and J Street have entered into negotiations to incorporate the former into the latter, uniting the grassroots votes with the financial clout, respectively, to protect Obama’s back in Congress.
As someone privy to the negotiations, I can’t discuss the evolving details until their completion in late October. But the broad strokes are such: Brit Tzedek’s grassroots chapters will be incorporated into J Street much the same as the Union of Progressive Zionists became J Street U (fan them on Facebook). J Street will hire a national field director and host of regional organizers to take the 50,000 supporters in 40 chapters to the next level of influence. Together they will represent the best thing to happen to Israel politics since Yitzak Rabin shook Yassir Arafat’s hand.
Brit Tzedek built in 8 years what had failed repeatedly over the past 40: a national grassroots conduit for liberal Israel supporters in every major city. Zealously guarding their reputation as staunch Israel supporters, they built leadership teams in 40 major cities based in synagogues and supported by a rabbinical network of some 1,500 rabbis and cantors. Where previous groups failed to prove their Jewish credentials and imploded, Brit Tzedek staked out a secure turf and coined the now common slogan “pro-Israel, pro-peace There is more than one way to be pro-Israel.”
As detailed in a lengthy NY Times Magazine peice this week, J Street in one year has managed to complete the pro-peace movement with a PAC that allows liberal political donors to designate their funds as pro-Israel but not pro-stupidity, hire a staff of 12, and lure big name leadership (like Hadar Susskind formerly head of the JCPA’s DC operation). With a confrontational edge, the org has created a media fray that’s zeroed in on right-wing ties to Pastor John Hagee, Sarah Palin, and the settler movement.
The two of them combined means that any action brings to bear the combined attention of everyday constituents and the big-pursed donors. The pro-Israel right is continually and hopefully sounding the death knell of  overwhelming Jewish support for Obama. But in poll after poll, they cannot fight the sheer number of American Jews who want the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over peaceably and support Obama’s approaches. But the past has showed that Congress doesn’t give a damn about opinion polls unless those constituents get off their asses and back up an opinion with a vote or a check. It’s vital that the Jewish left consolidate, streamline and maximize resources.
The left wing now represents the strongest infrastructure its ever had: a PAC, a grassroots presence, rabbinical cover, a campus wing, and a President that’s right where they want him to be.  The untapped potential is vast but there is only a 12-18 month window to push negotiations to completion and Bibi Netanyahu is pushing back with all his might. The Brit Tzedek-J Street arrangement couldn’t come at a more crucial point. But thank God, now it’s time to get to work.
If you’ve not signed up for the J Street “Driving Change, Securing Peace” conference on October 25-28, then you must. The conference features an alliance of all the major progressive Israel groups, leading Israeli human rights activists, the new leaders of the pro-peace Jewish community, and a bit of a party too. You can go to the “Driving Change, Securing Peace” conference for free — submit an essay to Jewschool’s contest by September 20.