As many readers may have noticed, events and op-eds involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have flourished on campus this semester. Of course, Tufts is not alone in struggling with this conflict, and between March and April four major conferences on this issue took (or will take) place: two at Harvard University (the One State Conference and the Harvard Israel Conference) and two in Washington, D.C. (AIPAC’s annual conference and J Street’s annual conference). But while conferences offer a wealth of information and can inspire further conversation, they ultimately serve to promote the ideas behind their organizations. As such, they must be supplemented by discussions that incorporate all viewpoints, which is what we hope to accomplish on the Tufts campus.
As members of the newly established J Street U group at Tufts, we had the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, J Street’s national “Making History” conference. J Street represents “the missing voice in Washington,” opening up a space for conversations that had been excluded from previous discourse surrounding the conflict. The organization’s name is creatively drawn from the omission of “J Street” in Washington D.C.’s otherwise impeccable grid system (i.e. there is no street between I Street and K Street). As a progressive movement, J Street provides a political home for those who believe that a secure Israeli state should exist alongside a stable Palestinian state. Founded in 2008, J Street just held its third annual conference, which we attended along with eight other Tufts students and 2,500 J Street members in Washington, D.C.’s convention center.