A Wake Up Call in Jerusalem

March 11, 2010

Israel’s recent announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem wasn’t just a slap in the face to Vice President Joe Biden.

It was a wake-up call to us all that business-as-usual peace processing is bringing us no closer to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And now it may derail or delay the proximity talks just announced by Special Envoy Mitchell.

The alarm bells couldn’t be ringing more loudly, telling us that hope is fading for a future where a Jewish, democratic Israel lives side-by-side in peace and security with the state of the Palestinian people.

Yet an urgency of purpose suited to the danger of the moment is missing – here in the U.S., in Israel and in the American Jewish community. The time has come for strong action, not more talk.

Earlier this week, J Street delivered a petition to the White House with over 18,000 signatures from pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans who support stronger US leadership now to ensure two states.

Israel’s national anthem is HaTikva – “The Hope.” It speaks of the 2,000-year dream of the Jewish people to be a free people again in their own land. 62 years ago, that dream became a reality.

Today, that dream is slipping through our hands – on our watch. A minority of ideologues more interested in settlements than in securing a democratic, Jewish homeland are putting the future of Israel at grave and imminent risk.

Over the years, American Jews and their friends helped the people of Israel build a nation. We sent aid to provide security, and we rallied to its defense at even the hint of danger.Now the State of Israel faces a true existential challenge. Will we answer the call? The future of a 2,000-year old dream hangs in the balance.

Without serious commitment and leadership from President Obama and this administration, the clock will run out on the two-state solution. And our generation will bear responsibility.

It is time for leadership and courage, and it’s time for us to move beyond business as usual.