Word on the Street: July 17th

July 17, 2009

The week started off with a bang: J Street at the table meeting with President Obama to discuss the Jewish community’s views on Israel and foreign policy. What great news for all of us that the President and his staff have recognized the multiplicity of views in the American Jewish community on Israel and the importance of hearing those views at the highest level.

The meeting set off a healthy debate over who should speak for the Jewish community.  I recommend to you an op-ed by J Street’s own Isaac Luria in The Forward that captures a critical aspect of this debate: how young American Jews relate to Israel.  As many of you know, enabling young people to express themselves on Israel in a way that meshes with their values and principles is one of the most exciting aspects of J Street’s work.

Substantively, it seems we may be edging toward a deal between the U.S. and Israel on settlements.  While J Street unequivocally opposes any further settlement construction or expansion, we also believe that we need to move quickly to address the issues that are fundamental to ending the conflict – establishing Israel’s borders and reaching a viable two-state solution as part of a comprehensive, regional peace deal.

In The Washington Post today, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert takes that view (though in a piece I don’t fully agree with), and the Bahraini crown prince writes about the need for Arab states to make real moves toward normalization with Israel.  Both of these pieces reflect a general sentiment, which I share, that the settlement dispute shouldn’t become all-consuming at the expense of resolving the conflict itself.  Establish Israel’s borders and we’ll all know where building can occur and where it can’t.

Finally, we’re already getting some press for our upcoming conference in Washington, DC on October 25-28. A nice piece from Eric Fingerhut in JTA points to the increased coordination of the pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy movement.