An open letter to Abe Foxman, ADL National Director

August 4th, 2009

Dear Mr. Foxman, I am writing in response to your organization's full-page advertisement in The New York Times today. The problem isn't just settlements, nor Arab rejection. And a lasting resolution to this decades old conflict - a goal which I know you and your organization supports - isn't advanced by pointing fingers at either side. What we need now is strong leadership to finally bring the Arab-Israeli conflict to an end.  The challenge for President Obama is how to move toward a goal that all sides support: a two-state solution that provides for Israel's security and statehood for the Palestinians, as well as a broader regional normalization with Arab states. The Israeli Prime Minister has said that he is ready for negotiations and that he accepts the principle of two states for two people. The Saudi Foreign Minister this past Friday said, "The Arab world is in accord with such a settlement through the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut which not only accepted Israel, but also offered full and complete peace and normal relations in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in ’67. This initiative was adopted unanimously by the Islamic countries at Makkah Summit in 2005." Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on June 22 at Al-Quds University, “Our Israeli neighbors: …We aspire to establish our state alongside your own through a meaningful peace that sets the stage for normal relations and cooperation in various fields, in the context of good neighborly relations. We aspire to achieve a peace in which both sides can realize the benefits of coexistence and equality in various areas.” Israel, Palestinians, and the Arab states say they are ready to move forward. A full-throttle effort to reach an end to the conflict that resolves all disputes has overwhelming support from Jewish Americans and from the majority of all Americans. Couldn't we all agree that the best route forward is not for each side to call on the other to move first, but to get all sides to the table with strong U.S. leadership to figure out how we move together before time runs out on a peaceful resolution to this conflict and we lock ourselves into a status quo that in the near future threatens Israel's very nature as a Jewish, democratic homeland? Sincerely, Jeremy Ben-Ami Executive Director J Street