On July 21, one of the hottest day of the summer, about 75 NH political activists and Jewish communal leaders gathered for brunch at the air conditioned Hotel Concord to discuss their goals and concerns with regard to the future of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and US foreign policy.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, interviewed Congresswoman Annie Kuster about her commitment to a two-state solution and her concerns about the harmful policies of the Trump administration and an erosion of rights for Palestinians. A Q&A with the audience followed their conversation.
With regard to Jared Kushner’s “peace plan”, the speakers agreed that the plan has no intention of achieving a two-state agreement — and instead is likely to push Israel farther down a “one-state” path in which it cannot remain both Jewish and democratic. The attempt to offer the Palestinians economic development aid in exchange for relinquishing their aspirations to statehood has no chance of being accepted, and is unlikely to receive support from the Arab states. Kushner’s plan ignores and contradicts prior US diplomacy efforts under both Republicans (the Bushes) and Democrats (Clinton, Obama), and destroys US credibility as an impartial mediator by exclusively adopting the positions of only one side.
Ben-Ami and Congresswoman Kuster discussed two resolutions on Israel that have recently been considered and debated in the House. Both supported a resolution introduced by Congressman Alan Lowenthal, which reaffirms the US commitment to a two-state solution and warns against efforts to undermine it. They also support a resolution which opposes the Global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) Movement against Israel due to the movement’s refusal to recognize the right of Jewish people to national self-determination and its refusal to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This resolution does not in any way infringe on Americans’ constitutionally-protected right to engage in boycotts.
Ben-Ami summarized J Street’s position as occupying the moderate middle between “Israel never wrong” and “Israel never right.” J Street is both firmly supportive of the state of Israel and willing to criticize harmful Israeli government policies that undermine our long-term shared interests and values.
For more in-depth discussion of these topics with prominent political leaders, experts and activists, attend the next J Street National Conference, October 26-29, in Washington, DC. The conference offers an opportunity to learn from US, Israeli, and Palestinian leaders working to resolve the conflict, to hear from presidential candidates about their visions for American foreign policy, and to make your voices heard in meetings with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.