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Statement by Jeremy Ben-Ami in response to Israeli Ground Invasion of Gaza

January 4, 2009

J Street reiterates its call for strong and immediate American
diplomatic leadership to bring an end to the violence through an
immediate ceasefire.

J Street unequivocally condemns Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of
rockets into Israel and its use of terror against civilians over the
years.

We reiterate that J Street is deeply committed to Israel, its security and the safety of its citizens.

However, as Americans and as friends and supporters of Israel, we do
not believe the continuation of the present military operation is in
the best interests of either the United States or Israel.  Rallies and
protests in Iraq and Afghanistan in opposition to the Gaza now bring
the conflict squarely into arenas where American troops are actively
deployed.  Demonstrations throughout the Middle East and the Muslim
world indicate that this week’s events are only further damaging
America’s image, interests and relationships around the world. Read the rest of J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami’s statement here.

Click here
to sign our petition calling strong U.S. leadership to bring about an
immediate ceasefire, read our policy FAQ about the ongoing conflict,
and find out what else you can do. 

In the face of these concerns, the outgoing Bush administration
seems content to sit on the sidelines for its last two weeks and do
little – as it has for its entire eight years – to promote active
diplomacy to further the cause of peace and security for Israel and the
Middle East.  It is time for a new direction for American foreign
policy in the Middle East, and J Street calls on President-elect Obama
and the new Congress convening this week to work actively and
immediately – with international support – to reach a ceasefire that
stops the violence, ends the rockets and lifts the blockade of Gaza.

The United States must understand that this week’s events did not
occur in a vacuum of just Hamas’ rocket fire and Israel’s military
response. The situation is also influenced by the ongoing blockade of
Gaza and its impact on the one and a half million residents of Gaza as
well as the larger political conflict between Israel and the
Palestinian people which, unresolved, continues to fuel deepening
anger, violence and death.

Without an immediate end to the present violence, hundreds more will
die and be injured in the coming days and weeks, including innocent
civilians on both sides.  Anger against Israel, the United States and
moderate Arab regimes will continue to rise – on the West Bank, inside
Israel, throughout the Middle East and around the world. The primary
beneficiaries of a delayed ceasefire will likely be the very forces in
the region that the United States and Israel are interested in
containing: Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas itself.

Scenarios that envision the removal of Hamas and long-term
administration of the territory by Israel, Fatah (backed by Israeli
Defense Forces), or international authorities are all either
unrealistic or undesirable. More likely is that a breakdown in the
central authority in Gaza will create ripe conditions for a much more
extreme, al Qaeda type movement to grow and prosper on Israel’s
doorstep.

While armed conflict may inflict serious – though temporary – damage
and loss on Hamas, it will likely enhance the movement’s political
strength, not only in Gaza but on the West Bank and regionally.

The most important question we asked last Saturday remains: what is
the end game?  If the goal is a negotiated end to the rocket fire –
then let negotiations begin now.