J Street welcomes diversity of views, voices at national conference; organization’s positions on key issues unchanged

March 20, 2015


CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Communications Director, (202) 448-1600 or (202) 279-0005 (m), [email protected]

WASHINGTON—At its National Conference in Washington, DC, March 21-24, J Street said that it expects to hear from a diverse range of speakers, some of whom it agrees with and others who may express positions that are not in accord with the organization’s own policies.

“We have always encouraged open debate at our conferences, and this year is no exception,” said Vice President for Communications, Alan Elsner. “We believe the long-term health of the Jewish community requires open debate of critical issues. That’s why we welcome speakers, some of whom may express views which we do not endorse. Vigorous debate strengthens our community and our delegates need to hear as wide a range of thoughts as possible.”

Over 3,000 people are expected to attend the conference, as well as White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, six members of the next Knesset, Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, former Secretary of State, James A. Baker, III, Ambassador Martin Indyk and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

In advance of the conference, J Street wishes to clearly state its positions on three issues on which speakers may present diverging views:

1) Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): J Street is adamantly opposed to the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. J Street opposes those who promote and encourage the use of boycotts and divestment for three primary reasons: (1) their failure to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist or the Jewish people’s right to a state; (2) their failure to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – recognizing the right of both peoples to states of their own; and (3) their failure to distinguish between opposition to Israel itself or to the occupation and settlements.

By unilaterally assigning blame to Israel, BDS is an overly simplistic and unhelpful approach to an incredibly complicated political situation. The result is further entrenchment on both sides, undermining moderates who support peace and making compromise less likely. J Street believes that the only possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a two-state solution addressing the needs, claims and aspirations of both sides.

2) The International Criminal Court (ICC): Regarding the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court and seek a prosecution of Israeli actions, we regard these moves as unhelpful and counterproductive. While we do believe that the Palestinians have the right to join international organizations including the ICC, and while we recognize their understandable frustration over the ongoing occupation and conflict, such moves will only deepen the conflict, setting off a spiral of counterproductive actions which would bring the Palestinian people no closer to freedom and self-determination.

3) The UN Security Council (UNSC): We support a thorough examination by the United States of its approach to advancing diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – including the use of its veto at the United Nations Security Council. While we are acutely aware of the history of anti-Israel sentiment at the United Nations, we nonetheless believe that the US can and should work constructively to shape a resolution that is consistent with longstanding US policy and internationally accepted parameters on which a two-state solution would be achieved. We do not believe the United States should use its veto to block a resolution related to the conflict that is fair, balanced and in accord with US policy.

All conference programming except for Tuesday’s advocacy day will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located at 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, in Washington, DC.

For more information about the conference, visit conference.jstreet.org.