Our Time To Lead
With recent violence in Gaza and Israel reminding us of the urgency of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all; as more pro-Israel, pro-peace members enter the 113th Congress; while President Obama decides the priorities of his second term; and following an upgrade of Palestinian status at the United Nations General Assembly, our voice is more needed than ever.
From now through our national conference, we’ll be organizing at the national and local level – urging the President to take the diplomatic lead with a bold initiative, pressing Congress not to take counterproductive actions and urging community leaders to join the call to end the conflict now before it’s too late to save the two-state solution.
In the coming days, weeks, and months we’ll be rolling out actions to the President; to a new Secretary of State; to the House of Representatives and the Senate; and to the American Jewish community and other friends of Israel, urging them to join us in this endeavor.
We’ll be organizing in our communities, on our campuses, lobbying in Washington and engaging in the media.
And we need your help. Let us know you want to be an active part of our push over the coming weeks and months to achieve a two-state solution before it's too late.
|Our call to President Obama||Our call to Congress||Our call to friends of Israel|
We call on President Obama to appoint a strong team in his second term with a clear presidential mandate to end this conflict.
We call on the President, as well, to build on this new United Nations resolution to convene negotiations backed by a strong international coalition, including European and Arab leaders, under the auspices of the US or the Quartet, and on the basis of clear parameters and a timeline. Such parameters – relating to borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees and water – are well known and widely accepted as the basis for a successful agreement.
With parameters in hand and a broad coalition behind him, we call on President Obama to visit the region, including Israel and the Palestinian Territory, to lay out the new initiative and to challenge the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to enter serious talks under his leadership in early 2013.
We call on our Representatives and Senators, Democrat and Republican alike, to reject dangerous and self-defeating efforts to retaliate for the lawful and peaceful efforts by the Palestinian Authority to achieve statehood.
Cutting foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority would merely undermine its viability, including its ability to continue working with Israel to prevent violence against civilians on both sides of the Green Line. With Hamas waiting in the wings, the Palestinian Authority must be equipped to survive as a partner for peace.
J Street will actively oppose efforts to punish President Abbas, the PLO or the Palestinian Authority for bringing this resolution to the United Nations. We will also oppose any suggestion of closing the PLO mission in Washington. We should be looking for ways to encourage and deepen the chances of diplomacy, not for ways to cut it off.
We call on the American Jewish community to join us in our work to end this conflict, once and for all.
We urge you to get involved locally, to be a part of our community conversations and events to press forward for peace.
J Street is focusing on the day after the vote – because it is the actions of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians following the vote that will determine whether we are moving toward or away from a negotiated resolution to the conflict.
Our community's time and energy would be better spent focusing on the existential threat to Israel’s security and character that is posed by the lack of a two-state solution to the conflict.
Why are we not taking a definitive stand either way on the UN membership request?
The primary focus of J Street’s work is on advocating for a two-state solution and for vigorous, sustained US leadership necessary to achieve it. We believe that there is no viable substitute or shortcut for agreement between the two parties to a conflict-ending resolution securing the peace, security and national aspirations of both peoples.
While the UN resolution is a peaceful, non-violent move and within the legal rights of the Palestinians, whether it ultimately helps or harms the prospects for achieving a two-state solution was not determined by the vote itself; rather, it will be determined by the actions taken by all parties in the days, weeks and months that follow. That is where our energies are focused.
How does J Street think the US should have voted?
J Street’s focus was not on swaying votes but on looking out for Israel’s best interests the day after. Whether the bid is good or bad for Israel depends on the steps taken by key actors thereafter– particularly the United States – to advance and ultimately secure the two-state solution. Our energies will be dedicated to demonstrating to the president and Congress the urgency of their actions now to advance a two-state agreement in order to support Israel as a secure, democratic, Jewish homeland for the long-term.
How can J Street not condemn anything done through the UN that is clearly anti-Israel?
We are very concerned about the continuing bias against Israel that surfaces at the UN and in international fora. At the same time, we reject the notion that approaching the UN for enhanced status is inherently an attempt to de-legitimize Israel. Bringing the question of statehood to the General Assembly was a peaceful, non-violent move, within the legal rights of the Palestinians. If one reads the text of this resolution, one will see that it actually recognizes both Israel’s right to exist and the legitimacy of the borders of Israel and of the new Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 Green Line with negotiated adjustments. By extension, those nations who voted for this resolution were taking what, for many, was an unprecedented step in affirming their support for these same principles. For others, it was a reaffirmation of the support they lent Israel 65 years ago this week at the General Assembly, when they recommended the adoption and implementation of the UN partition plan (November 29, 1947).
How can you say opposing the Palestinian bid would have been bad for Israel? Why doesn't J Street get that this is a threat to Israel's legitimacy and existence?
J Street has not taken a position supporting or opposing the Palestinian bid. Knowing that the bid was going to pass by an overwhelming majority, our focus has been and remains on looking out for Israel’s best interests the day after.
The gravest threat to Israel’s existence is the lack of a two-state solution, because it is the only way for Israel to survive as a secure, democratic and Jewish homeland. Absent a two-state solution, Israel will have to choose between being a Jewish state while occupying another people, whom it does not grant equal rights; or being a democracy but compromising on its Jewish character. As American Jews who are deeply concerned about Israel’s future, neither of these are compromises we are willing to make. So, we are dedicating all of our energies toward supporting American leadership to help secure a two-state solution.
How can you say supporting the Palestinian bid would have been bad for Israel?
We don’t. J Street has not taken a position supporting or opposing the Palestinian bid. Knowing that the bid was going to pass by an overwhelming majority, our focus has been and remains on looking out for Israel’s best interests the day after. Whether the bid is good or bad for Israel depends on the steps taken by key actors thereafter– namely the Palestinians, Israelis and Americans – to advance and ultimately secure the two-state solution.
If the Palestinians had agreed not to go to the ICC, couldn't J Street have supported this bid?
J Street’s focus is not on supporting or opposing the Palestinian bid itself. Knowing that the bid was going to pass by an overwhelming majority, our focus has been and remains on looking out for Israel’s best interests the day after. Whether the bid is good or bad for Israel depends on the steps taken by key actors thereafter– namely the Palestinians, Israelis and Americans – to advance and ultimately secure the two-state solution.
J Street believes that a firm commitment from the Palestinians to refrain from proceeding with any action at the International Criminal Court would be an important sign of good intention to resolve the conflict through negotiation.
Why didn’t J Street call for Israel to work with the Palestinians on the wording of the resolution to create a resolution both could support?
There was some speculation in the weeks leading up to the introduction about possible maneuverings behind the scenes by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to shape the resolution. We would have welcomed such collaboration between the parties to draft a resolution that both could support as an important first step as part of renewed diplomacy. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
J Street’s position is a response to the content of the resolution introduced to the UNGA on Thursday. We are focusing our energies on affecting what happens in the days after the vote and on advocating for boldness and leadership on all sides going forward to achieve a two-state solution.
Jewish Community Organizations:
Partners for Progressive Israel
Americans for Peace Now
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
American Jewish Committee
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
World Jewish Congress
Op-eds, opinions and analyses:
To Bolster Palestinian Moderates, Let Abbas Win at the UN, Bloomberg View
The Palestinians' U.N. Bid, The New York Times
State of Confusion, Foreign Policy
Recognizing a diplomatic horizon , Haaretz
Why Jews Should Back Palestinian U.N. Bid, Leonard Fein, Jewish Daily Forward
EXCLUSIVE: Former Israeli PM Olmert Supports Palestine U.N. Bid, Bernard Avishai, Open Zion
The Palestinian Choice - And Ours, Hussein Ibish, Open Zion
Palestine poised for UN recognition, Natasha Lennard, Salon.com
Beyond Gaza and the General Assembly, Michael Felsen, Times of Israel