J Street Hires Rabbi Steve Gutow as Political Advisor
J Street announced on Thursday the appointment of Rabbi Steve Gutow, former president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) as a senior advisor for JStreetPAC, its 2016 election political arm.
Gutow served as president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs from 2005-2015, during which he was chosen as one of the 50 most influential American rabbis three times by Newsweek. He was recently appointed to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Before joining JCPA, Gutow help Democrats in Texas and served as founding executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). He also served as the founding director of AIPAC’s Southwestern region.
According to a news release by J Street, Gutow will work closely with its endorsed congressional candidates to guide them in discussing J Street’s principles on Israel in outreach to the Jewish community, and help them identify with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and those who support those policies within the Jewish community.
“We’re thrilled that Rabbi Gutow will be part of our team for this cycle,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president said in a statement. “This will be an extremely important election cycle in determining the future direction of American foreign policy. Bringing decades of experience with progressive politics and the Jewish community, Rabbi Gutow will help JStreetPAC to demonstrate that support American diplomatic leadership isn’t just good policy- it’s also a major political asset.”
“I am pleased and fortunate. In this very important election year, when all American Jews should extend themselves to help this nation be all we wish it to be with regard to both Israel and the Middle East and in general, I feel fortunate to work with others at J Street to help candidates I believe in to succeed in their political contests,” said Rabbi Gutow.
JStreetPAC is aiming to raise at least $3 million for candidates in over 100 local races across the country. J Street’s national political director Ben Shnider told Jewish Insider earlier this year that the group has decided to seize the opportunity to expand its control and influence within the Democratic Party after scoring a victory on the Iran deal. “We see this as a unique opportunity to go on the offense and prove that standing up for a diplomacy first approach – which has been proven to be in the best interest of the U.S. and Israel – is not just smart policy but also savvy politics,” Shnider told Jewish Insider. “Our emphasis is going to be, primarily, in the Senate races in Illinois and Wisconsin. Kirk and Johnson stood in the way of this deal, and we think they should have to answer to that oppositions to a very pragmatic, centrist electorate.”
Rabbi Jack Moline, Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance, told Jewish Insider, “I think any organization is lucky to have Steve Gutow on its team. He brings comprehensive knowledge of the Jewish community and public affairs.”