Yes, Ambassador Friedman, You Are an Obstacle to Peace

March 6, 2018

Over the past few days at the AIPAC Policy Conference, we have seen a parade of speakers from the Trump and Netanyahu governments, like Ambassador David Friedman, who claim to support peace while in fact working hard to obstruct it.

Contra Friedman, it is not “blasphemous,” but a simple statement of fact, to say that the settlement movement and its allies in the current US and Israeli administrations are not committed to peace.

These far-right voices, including Friedman himself, have spent years openly expanding settlements, entrenching the occupation and opposing a two-state agreement. Today, while virtually the entire international community — including the Palestinian government — continue to publicly call for a two-state solution, the current leaders of the US and Israel steadfastly refuse to endorse it. Their refusal to support a coherent and viable path to peace is endangering Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

Based on the ambassador’s comments, it’s clear that these advocates for a one-state nightmare are now deeply worried about the growing movement of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans pushing back on their dangerous agenda. They should be.

AIPAC has tried hard this year to present itself as a home for progressives and pro-Israel Americans across the political spectrum. Yet some of its most prominent speakers have used their platform to defend Israeli settlement policies, demonize Palestinians and slap at American supporters of the two-state solution — to rapturous applause. It’s hard to see how liberal American Jews can be real partners in a space where Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are lionized, while the Obama administration is routinely maligned. 

AIPAC leaders’ stated support for a two-state solution is welcome. But it will remain hollow without a willingness to discuss the choices that both sides will need to take to achieve it, or to critique the US and Israeli policies that are currently working to prevent it. Providing automatic defense for every action taken by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu does not advance the long-term interests of both countries or the health of the US-Israel relationship.

If Ambassador Friedman and his allies want to defend settlements, demonize Palestinians, oppose the two state-solution and still claim to support peace, that’s their right. Meanwhile, J Street will fight these policies. We will stand with the large majority of American Jews and with a growing number of lawmakers. We will continue working to actually promote peace and secure Israel’s future.

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