Mission & Principles

Mission

J Street organizes pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans to promote US policies that embody our deeply held Jewish and democratic values and that help secure the State of Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. We believe that only a negotiated resolution agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians can meet the legitimate needs and national aspirations of both peoples.

Working in the American political system, in the Jewish community and with others with whom we share core values, we advocate for diplomacy-first American leadership and policies that advance justice, equality, peace, and democracy in Israel, in the wider region and in the United States as well.

Principles

1. We are committed to and support the people and the state of Israel.

We believe that the Jewish people have the right to a national home of their own, and that millennia of history demonstrate the need for such a home. We celebrate its re-birth after thousands of years.

We value and share the democratic principles on which Israel was founded and that have guided the country for seven decades — even as we acknowledge the threats to that democracy from without and within.

We recognize that Israel faces dangerous enemies, and support its right to defend itself against them. We support Israel’s right to live in security and peace, within internationally recognized boundaries.

2. The future of both Israelis and Palestinians depends on achieving a two-state solution to their conflict and an end to the ongoing occupation.

We believe the Palestinian people, like the Jewish people, have the right to a democratic national home of their own, living side-by-side with Israel in peace, freedom and security. They deserve full civil rights and an end to the systemic injustice of occupation.

We support the creation of an independent, de-militarized state of Palestine with defined borders. We believe a two-state solution to the conflict serves both Israel’s and America’s interests and fulfills the legitimate national aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples to self-determination and sovereignty. We believe that both the Palestinian and Israeli leadership should be clear and consistent in putting forward concrete, serious proposals for how to achieve such an agreement, and should demonstrate a willingness to make meaningful compromises in order to do so. We urge both the US government and the international community to take urgent steps to help bring the parties together and to lay the groundwork for meaningful negotiations leading to a lasting resolution of the conflict.

For too long, pro-Israel advocacy has defined this conflict in zero-sum terms, as “us versus them,” a conflict in which there can be only one winner. In fact, Israel’s long-term security and survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people depends on bringing an end to the occupation and fulfilling the aspirations of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination via a two-state solution.

Israel faces a stark choice. It cannot remain both a democratic state and a Jewish homeland while maintaining control over all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It can only have two of these three — it can only remain a democratic homeland for the Jewish people by giving up the vast majority of occupied territory on which a Palestinian state can be built in exchange for peace.

3. Israel’s American supporters have the right and the responsibility to speak out when policies or actions of the Israeli government harm the long-term interests of the United States, Israel and the Jewish people.

We can and must distinguish between criticizing the policies of the government of Israel and questioning Israel’s fundamental right to exist as a Jewish homeland.

Criticism of Israeli policy does not threaten the health of the state of Israel — in fact, such criticism and open debate is a key element of any democratic society. Meanwhile, certain Israeli policies (and the silence of too many in the American Jewish establishment when vigorous protest of those policies is necessary) do pose an existential threat to Israel’s future. They deserve to be challenged and opposed by Israel’s supporters — just as we should challenge harmful Palestinian actions and policies that exacerbate conflict or make peace harder to achieve.

Endless settlement expansion, creeping annexation, and the enforcement of occupation violate international law, trample on Palestinian rights and push Israel further down a path of permanent conflict, illiberal democracy and injustice. They work to prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state and undermine the prospects for a viable two-state solution.

As Americans, we have the right and responsibility to speak up and shape our country’s foreign policy towards Israel and the wider region, and to promote strong, multilateral diplomacy to resolve conflicts with the use of military force considered only as a last resort. We cannot support policies that violate the values at the heart of both our Jewish and American heritage. We must oppose policies — whether American, Palestinian or Israeli — that make peace more difficult, exacerbate conflict or infringe on basic human rights.

4. Vibrant but respectful debate about Israel benefits the American Jewish community and Israel.

Strong and vibrant debate has characterized the Jewish tradition for millennia. As an organization that is primarily but not exclusively Jewish, we believe it is vital to engage with those with whom we disagree.

We must not allow a small minority to impose constraints on what constitutes acceptable speech in the Jewish community or in American politics. Closing the doors of the Jewish community or American government to those who question US or Israeli policy inhibits the productive open debate that leads to sound policymaking, and puts the intellectual integrity and future of our community at risk.

We believe vigorous debate about Israel and American policy will not only engage younger American Jews across the political spectrum, but will increase participation in the broader Jewish community among all generations.

5. Our work is grounded in the Jewish and democratic values on which we were raised.

These values are central to who we are as a people: the principle that you should treat others the way that you would want to be treated yourself, basic notions of justice and freedom, the pursuit of peace, and tikkun olam —seeking to make the world a better place.

We believe that we must work for an Israel, a United States and a Jewish community that lives up to the best of these values and traditions. It is in the spirit of these values that we fight against bigotry, inequality and injustice and work in multi-faith, multi-racial coalitions with communities in their efforts to overcome such oppression and to strengthen liberal democracy.

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