Feinstein accepts J Street endorsement

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has accepted the endorsement of J Street’s political action committee.

Feinstein, 78, who is seen as a mainstream pro-Israel politician, joined three other Senate candidates who have received a JStreetPAC endorsement for the 2012 election cycle: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

The JStreetPAC last week also endorsed 49 House incumbents and eight House challengers.

Of the 61 total endorsements, 14 are candidates from California, including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-East Bay) and Jackie Speier (D-Peninsula), who, along with several other congresswomen, went on a J Street–sponsored trip to Israel and the West Bank in February.

JStreetPAC endorsed several other House candidates from the greater Bay Area: Rep. Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-San Mateo County), Rep. Sam Farr (D-Salinas), Rep. John Garamendi (D-Contra Costa County), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-North Bay), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Santa Clara County) and Rep. George Miller (D-Contra Costa County).

Feinstein, who is Jewish, has consistently backed assistance for Israel, but in some areas she has departed from pro-Israel orthodoxy. She sponsored legislation in 2006 that would ban the sale of cluster bombs to countries that would use them in highly populated areas, which likely would have included Israel.

The legislation was defeated after a strong lobbying effort by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In 2010, Feinstein drafted a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in which she emphasized that “for too long” Israel’s “expansion of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem undermined confidence.”

“Senator Feinstein joins a long and growing list of American politicians who recognize that there is significant political support to be found from Americans who support Israel and deeply believe that American and Israeli interests would be better served through active American diplomacy to achieve two states,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “This is a sea change in American politics when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.” — jta