Walter Jones, J Street-backed Republican, gets the ECI (flag)burn

It’s a first: The Emergency Committee for Israel has launched a major ad buy against a Republican.

True, it’s running the ad as the incumbent, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), faces a primary challenge in May — so ECI isn’t quite at the point where it’s (even implicitly) endorsing a Democrat.

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More to the point, the most vivid portion of the ad, cast against footage of burning U.S. and Israeli flags, notes his endorsement by J Street, ECI’s bête noir. “He’s endorsed by anti-Israel group,” the ad says.

J Street won the agreement of a couple of Republicans in Congress to accept its political action committee’s endorsement at the PAC’s outset in 2009 — but they bolted a year or so later, when it became known that J Street had concealed its fiduciary relationship with uber-liberal billionaire George Soros. For a few years the group was all Dem in terms of its political action committee’s endorsees.

Now, ahead of the 2014 midterms, J Street’s PAC has added two Republicans to its lineup: Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, and Jones.

Jones over his congressional career has turned from a hawk into an ardent anti-interventionist. Jones enthusiastically endorsed the Iraq War at its outset — he’s the “freedom fries” guy — but then as he saw its effects on his constituents who served in the military, he did a 180.

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Ron Kampeas is JTA’s Washington bureau chief, responsible for coordinating coverage in the U.S. capital and analyzing political developments that affect the Jewish world. He comes to JTA from The Associated Press, where he worked for more than a decade in its bureaus in Jerusalem, New York, London and, most recently, Washington. He has reported from Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Bosnia and West Africa. While living in Israel, he also worked for the Jerusalem Post and several Jewish organizations.