2500 To Gather For Nation's Largest Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Conference

March 21st, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2012

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, (202) 670-5397, Jessica@jstreet.org

2500 TO GATHER FOR NATION’S LARGEST PRO-ISRAEL, PRO-PEACE CONFERENCE
J Street’s Making History Conference, March 24-27

WASHINGTON – Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Amos Oz, Peter Beinart and Anat Hoffman will headline J Street’s third national conference-- the largest gathering ever of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement and the third largest annual American Jewish assembly.

The four-day conference will bring together 2500 political and opinion leaders, policymakers and activists to put advocacy for a two-state solution back on the foreign policy agenda. Participants from across the United States, Israel and Europe will convene under the banner of “Making History” to chart the future of the pro-Israel movement together. “In our early years J Street’s challenge was to prove that one could be both pro-Israel and pro-peace,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “Now our challenge is to lead the pro-Israel movement into the future under the only banner that can give Israel security as the democratic, Jewish homeland: Bold action in support of a two-state solution. If mobilizing to achieve a two-state solution does not become not the very cornerstone of the pro-Israel movement, then we are not truly helping Israel to face one its most critical challenges.”

“While the potential of a nuclear armed Iran presents a grave threat, Israel does not have the luxury of choosing which existential crises to address or not at any given time,” added Ben-Ami. “Moreover, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and achieving a two-state solution are not mutually exclusive.”

The conference will kick off Saturday at 8:30PM with a plenary session featuring speeches by three Israelis who are shaping the history of their country: preeminent author Amos Oz, Mayor Michael Biton of Yerucham and Stav Shaffir, a leader of the Israeli Social Protest Movement, which overtook the streets of Israel last summer.

Two other plenaries will take on the opportunities and challenges that exist for Israeli and American political leaders, respectively, in advancing a two-state solution. The first (Sunday 11:25AM-12:55PM) will bring together Members of Knesset Avishay Braverman, Zehava Golan and Raleb Majadele and former Labor Party Leader General Amram Mitzna in a moderated discussion. The second (Monday, 1:15-3:00PM) will explore whether the United States can still help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and if so, how. The panel discussion will feature National Security Adviser to the Vice President Tony Blinken, former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer and former US State Department Director of Policy Planning Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter.

The fourth plenary (Sunday 3:50-5:20PM) will be a collaborative session to explore the evolving nature of the pro-Israel movement in 2012 and beyond. Keynote speaker Rabbi Donniel Hartman of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute will be joined by Forward Editor Jane Eisner, Rabbi John Rosove, Yachad Director Hannah Weisfeld and Nation writer Ilyse Hogue in defining a new direction for the pro-Israel movement rooted in both a realistic assessment of Israel’s strategic challenges and the values that have kept the Jewish people strong for millennia. The session-- “The Future of Pro-Israel”-- will also draw from hundreds of testimonials collected from activists across the country as part of J Street’s campaign of the same name.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and civil rights leader and keynote speaker Anat Hoffman will headline the Gala Dinner Monday evening honoring J Street founding member and Board Chair, Davidi Gilo. The Embassy of Israel’s Deputy Head of Mission, Barukh Binah, will give welcoming remarks. Legendary entertainer Theodore Bikel will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Nearly 40 workshops will take on a range of related issues—the Jewish vote, Iran, settlements, talking to our children about Israel, human rights, shifting dynamics in the American Jewish community, and various components of movement building among them. Several panel discussions will highlight congressional, military and Palestinian perspectives on the impact of the conflict and its prospects for resolution. Renowned author and journalist Peter Beinart will launch his new book, The Crisis of Zionism, available first at the conference.

Most sessions are open to the media and coverage is invited. A full agenda is available here.

On the final day of the conference--Tuesday, March 27-- participants will hold over two hundred meetings on Capitol Hill to advocate for strong American leadership to advance a two-state solution and comprehensive regional peace.

More than 40 groups will join the conference as participating organizations, including the New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Peres Center for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights and Netroots Nation. A full list of organizations is available at http://conference.jstreet.org.

All conference programming will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located at 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Members of the media are strongly encouraged to pre-register. Credentials will be available onsite for journalists holding Congressional, State or Foreign Press Center credentials.

For more information about the conference visit http://conference.jstreet.org/

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