President Obama's speech today at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, DC was a clear and forceful reminder that establishing a Palestinian state is necessary to safeguard Israel's democracy and integral to Jewish values.
The President reminded us that shared Jewish and American values form the bedrock of the unshakable friendship between the United States and Israel. These values are both fundamental and universal – they apply just as much to Palestinians as to Israelis. As President Obama stated, Palestinians should enjoy the same rights as Israelis, to freedom, security and self-determination.
As his administration presses Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new government to demonstrate a commitment to a two-state solution, and works to finalize a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the President should know that the vast majority of American Jews supports him and hopes that he succeeds.
President Obama's speech was notable because it laid out the fundamental principle that supporting Israel does not require blind support for every policy adopted by its government. "It is precisely because I care so deeply about the State of Israel that I feel a responsibility to speak honestly about what I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland, and I believe that's two states for two peoples," he declared.
J Street has been forcefully making that same case since its establishment seven years ago. We believe it is a view shared by the overwhelming majority of American Jews who love and support Israel but are dismayed by the stated positions of so many in the new Netanyahu government. “Papering over disagreements is not a true measure of friendship," President Obama said.
In his speech, the President also demonstrated that he takes threats to Israel and the Jewish people seriously, denouncing the “scourge of anti-Semitism” and pledging that “Iran must not be allowed, under any circumstances, to obtain a nuclear weapon.” He said that he would only accept a “good deal” that would “block every single path” to a nuclear-armed Iran.
We are grateful that Israel has a friend in the White House who understands these threats, and who is committed to ensuring Israel’s security while making “our shared values live.”