Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet Principles

By signing on to the Rabbinic Cabinet, members commit to the following principles of J Street:

1. Commitment to and support for the people and the state of Israel.

This means that the members of the Rabbinic Cabinet believe in Jewish self-determination and that the Jewish people have the right to a national home of their own. This national home is expressed in the State of Israel which was founded on democratic principles that we also hold dear. We also know that Israel has real enemies, and we defend its right to live in security and peace, within internationally recognized boundaries and the moral right to defend itself against its enemies.

2. The future of Israel depends on achieving a negotiated resolution to the conflict with the Palestinian people 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. We believe a negotiated resolution 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. 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 negotiated resolution.

3. Israel’s supporters have not only the right but the obligation to speak out when we think the policies or actions of the Israeli government are hurting Israel’s and the Jewish people’s long-term interests.

We maintain that it is possible to distinguish between criticizing the policies of the government of Israel and questioning Israel’s fundamental right to exist as a Jewish national home. Criticism of Israeli policy does not threaten the health of the state of Israel — but certain Israeli policies (and the silence that is often found in many in the American Jewish establishment when vigorous protest of those policies is necessary) do threaten Israel’s future. And as Americans, we also have a right to speak up and shape our own foreign policy and the future of the homeland of the Jewish people.

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

Jewish tradition has always upheld the principle of the creative power of strong and vibrant but respectful debate. It is necessary, therefore to engage with those with whom we disagree. We do not believe that there is only one acceptable view on Israel. We strongly reject the idea that only one voice be allowed to impose constraints on what constitutes acceptable speech in the Jewish community. And there is a comparably dangerous effort to shut down debate and dissent taking place today in Israel itself which is why we actively support the maintaining of strong democracy in Israeli society. We believe that many of our community’s younger generation are distancing themselves not simply from Israel but from traditional institutions in the community because they believe that their voices are not welcome.

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

We believe that it is both possible and necessary to engage in a warm relationship with Israel and to remain true to the values we hold most dear as Jews and as Americans — and on which Israel was founded.  These values are central to who we are as a people: treating your neighbors as yourself, pursuing justice and peace, upholding the rights of the poor and powerless and seeking tikkun olam — seeking to make the world a better place. We believe that we all must work for an Israel and a Jewish community that lives up to the best of these values and traditions.

It is the expectation of J Street that all Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet members uphold the J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet Code of Conduct, as leaders, representatives, and role models within the Jewish community.