Putting American Ideas on the Table

April 7, 2010

This blog post is cross posted at The Huffington Post.

We at J Street were encouraged to read The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius indicating that the Obama Administration is “seriously considering proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict.”

This is exactly the kind of bold American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we’ve been urging in full-page ads in The New York Times and in the over 220,000 actions J Street supporters taken in the past year.

The big headline of the piece is that this “American Plan” approach was suggested by a bipartisan group of six former National Security Advisors from the Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, and Carter Administrations during a recent impromptu meeting with President Obama.

If any group would be in a position to judge that, in addition to being fundamental to Israel’s security as a Jewish, democratic home, a resolution to the conflict is a core American national security interest, it would be this gang of six.

Add to the mix the Central Command Commander General David Petraeus’ written testimony to the Senate Armed Services committee last month, and you’ve got an even clearer picture of the consensus position of the American national security establishment — resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution is a fundamental American national security interest.

More from the Ignatius column:

“Incrementalism hasn’t worked,” continued the second official, explaining that the United States cannot allow the Palestinian problem to keep festering — providing fodder for Iran and other extremists. “As a global power with global responsibilities, we have to do something.” He said the plan would “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security and the requirements of Palestinian sovereignty in a way that makes sense.”

If there is any lesson from the last 20 years of Middle East peacemaking (or the last year of the Israelis and Palestinians talking about possibly talking about talks, for that matter), it is that the parties themselves are incapable of resolving this decades-long conflict on their own. They will need a strong American presence at the table, suggesting bridging proposals to resolve impasses and providing the political support for the hard choices that will be necessary. And as the window for achieving a two-state solution grows ever smaller, there is no time to lose.

Since the President committed the United States to the near-term achievement of a two-state solution at the beginning of his presidency, J Street and the pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy movement have urged him on — knowing that only through a two-state solution would Israel finally know real peace and security as a Jewish, democratic home and that it was a crucial way for the United States to advance its own national security interests in the Middle East.

Yet with the status quo’s echo chamber undermining his efforts, President Obama needs pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans who are committed to Israel’s security and the necessity of a Palestinian state to stand with him. You can rest assured that the attacks on the views presented in this Ignatius piece are already underway, and J Street will be loud and proud in our defense of this sensible approach.

In our defense, we’ll continue to push back against anyone arguing that a bold approach to Middle East peace making will hurt the President political standing with the Jewish community. According to a poll J Street commissioned just two weeks ago, over 71% of American Jews support pressuring both parties to make the hard compromises necessary for peace. Despite sustained political attacks from defenders of the status quo on Israel, the President’s approval rating remains high at 62% among American Jews, 15 points higher than his popularity in the general population.

Our community is thirsty for real leadership on the Middle East, both to secure Israel’s future and to advance American interests. After nearly decades of a wilderness full of violence, strife, and hopelessness for Israelis and Palestinians, it is high time that the United States boldly lead the parties to the promised land of real peace and security through a two-state solution.