J Street on President Barack Obama’s Cairo Speech

June 4, 2009

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement following President Barack Obama’s historic address today at Egypt’s Cairo University:

J Street applauds President Barack Obama’s historic address today and his vision for building a productive American relationship with the Muslim world in the 21st century. In particular, J Street welcomes the President’s strong reaffirmation of the essential interest the United States, Israel, Palestine and the world have in achieving a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and of his intention to provide the leadership necessary to reach it. The President was clear. Palestinians must renounce violence and accept Israel’s existence, Israel must stop settlement activity and end the humiliation of the Palestinian people that comes with their occupation, and the broader Arab world must step up to a more constructive role as well. It is time for Israel’s government to accept the principle of a Palestinian state and to live up to its prior commitments to end settlement construction.  It is time for the Palestinian people to rebuild a functioning political system and to renounce violence. The American Jewish community too should act in the spirit of the President’s remarks.  While some American friends of both Israel and the Palestinians have made much in the past few days of what the other side must do first in order to start down the road to peace, we urge them to heed the President’s words today. Finger-pointing and the blame game have characterized this conflict for far too long.  They must stop, and we must all, as the President did today, act publicly on what we know in private to be true: only a resolution of the conflict that results in two states for two people will bring real peace and security to both.  Only compromise and negotiation can staunch the flow of blood and tears that have plagued them for too long. This will not happen without the bold, assertive leadership displayed by the President today or without dedicated follow-through and perseverance by the United States in the months ahead. President Obama should know that the overwhelming majority of American Jews and other friends of Israel support his active diplomacy, his calls for an end to violence and settlements – and, most important, his intention to work publicly and aggressively to end the conflicts that have plagued the Middle East for far too long.