Nuance, Empathy and Humanity Matter

Jeremy Ben-Ami
on December 21, 2023

The last two months have been impossibly difficult and distressing.

At J Street – with staff, allies, friends and family caught up in the Hamas attack and the ongoing conflict – we have felt the anguish and dread closely and personally.

Many of us have lost friends and colleagues – Israeli and Palestinian – and have close connections to people still held in Gaza, displaced from their homes or whose lives have been thrown into chaos amid the shocking scale of violence and fear.

Here at home, we’re grappling with a debate riven by anger and partisanship. The number of partisans willing to use antisemitism to further their anti-Israel goals has been truly terrifying. Many in our community have never felt so unsafe. The fight against antisemitism has not been helped by those who brand even the fairest criticism of the Netanyahu government – or very understandable sympathy for Palestinian civilians – as somehow “pro-Hamas” or antisemitic.

In this moment of anguish and division, J Street has been guided by some very clear goals: defeating terror, supporting hostage families, protecting civilians and pursuing long-term peace. Our work, grounded in nuance, empathy and humanity, is more important now than ever.

As other groups retreat into partisanship – or shy away from the challenge of holding the humanity of both Israelis and Palestinians – our teams continue to tirelessly represent our shared values to the Biden Administration, on Capitol Hill and in communities and on campuses across the country.

J Street champions in Congress have been asking firm questions of the White House; pursuing vital pro-Israel, pro-peace policy shifts; holding focus on the safety of hostages and Palestinian civilians; and fighting antisemitism without equivocation.

We know that if J Street falters in this work, extreme voices would have the field to themselves. We can’t afford to let that happen.

If this work matters to you, please help fund it. Grassroots support makes our work possible.

Over the last few months, we’ve worked with a broad swath of Democrats in the House and Senate to press forward dozens and dozens of important letters, bills and resolutions on hostage releases, humanitarian aid, civilian protection, compliance with international law, settler violence, campus antisemitism and other key issues.

From Rosa DeLauro to Jerry Nadler, Jan Schakowsky to Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren to Jeff Merkley, Jamie Raskin to Sara Jacobs, we’re continuing to partner with leading voices in the House and Senate to press our priorities forward.

We’re currently championing the joint security package to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, which also includes vital additional humanitarian support for families in Gaza. At the same time, we’re pressing for an important amendment to increase aid transparency to ensure our policies are consistent across all recipient countries.

This will strengthen support by ensuring our aid is used for vital defensive purposes, and not diverted by the Netanyahu government to support settlements, annexation or other violations of international law (you can read more and sign our petition here).

Over these past months, my hope is that we’ve not only given voice to our shared values in the corridors of power, but that we’ve been able to provide support, fact-based analysis and nuanced guidance for our entire community in an impossibly difficult moment.

While we do not know what the future will hold – from an uncertain situation in Gaza to the very real threat of a second Trump presidency here at home – we do know that our voice, our work and our values will be more indispensable than ever before. We cannot afford to fall short.

If strengthening our voice matters to you, please consider an end-of-year contribution to support this vital work. Every contribution strengthens our voice in this moment.

Thank you, sincerely, to everyone who has been a voice of reason, empathy, support and commonsense in this incredibly difficult time.