The liberal Zionist group J Street has published a call on the Obama administration to take concrete action, and release “Obama Parameters” on the resolution of the conflict. Obama should nudge the Israelis with “reality checks,” J Street says. That’s a hint that it wants the Obama administration not to veto a resolution against settlements in the UN Security Council, and to support the reported French push for a U.N. resolution aimed at renewing the peace process; but the statement doesn’t want to go that far.
Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street writes that the president should publish a “framework” on the resolution of the conflict.
We urge the President to lay out a suggested framework for resolving the conflict that refocuses both peoples and their leaders on the compromises needed for peace. Such a framework would light a torch of hope that the President can hand to his successor.
Of course, the conflict will only end in an agreement between the two parties.
But history teaches that efforts to resolve complex and long-running conflicts can benefit from serious help from outside actors. The US can play a key role as a mediator, bridging difficult gaps and providing reality checks to both sides so that future negotiations are meaningful and productive….
And three leading Israeli voices for a two-state solution, including former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon, argued in Foreign Affairs that an American framework would “make a strong impression on the Israeli and Palestinian publics, presenting them with a clear discussion of the core issues at stake, even if their leaders refuse to engage in it. The Obama Parameters could prompt honest discourse about the realistic — if not painful — concessions both sides will need to make.”
Here J Street affirms its opposition to boycott or BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) or any meaningful pressure on Israel:
Strong American leadership could help ensure that growing international frustration over the conflict is channeled in the right direction. The President could unite key allies behind a positive vision — reaffirming Israel’s absolute right to secure borders and equal standing in the community of nations, while marginalizing proposals that show bias against it.
There are people at J Street who are fearful of Israel turning into another Algeria in the 1950s. So here J Street tacks away from the right wing Jewish community, saying that it is asking for violence:
Meanwhile, powerful voices in Washington are pushing the President to do nothing — as is the Israeli government. They fall back on the argument that the only way to make any progress whatsoever is through direct negotiations. Anything else they say is interference and constitutes unhelpful pressure…
The Doing nothing means accepting the ever-deteriorating status quo and a future of spiraling violence and conflict management.
In the absence of diplomatic leadership, chaos and violence are filling the vacuum…
J Street concludes the statement by endorsing a House bill opposing “settlement expansion” and calling on Israel “to improve the quality of life for Palestinians.” And it says “a Presidential framework” won’t end the conflict but it will be a “powerful tool” for those Israelis and Palestinians who are trying to find a peaceful solution.
Again: how meaningful are such measures? The statement does not go as far as what Lara Friedman of Peace Now recommended last year: that the United States should give up leadership on the matter and partner with the U.N. and European countries, “laying down consensus red lines” on the resolution of the conflict and punishing settlement construction.
J Street seems to be straddling the Peace Now position and the right-wing AIPAC community so as to maintain its position in the centrist Jewish establishment and grow its access to Congress. Because as this photo from the Upper West Side recently demonstrates, the establishment Jewish community is still behind Israel body and soul.
Though cracks are forming in the broader community. Jews are now divided among four camps, says Dov Waxman, the author of the new book Trouble in the Tribe. From right to left, they are: 1, Zionist Organization of America types, who don’t want the Jews to give away a square foot of the land of historical Palestine to the Palestinians; 2, AIPAC types who give lip service to the two state solution as being in Israel’s best interest but refuse to criticize the government of Israel; 3, the Peace Now and J Street crowd, who want a two-state-solution to save Israel as a “democratic Jewish state” and are even willing to put some pressure on Israel, and 4, the Jewish Voice for Peace/IfNotNow younger generation (which we tend to align with on this site) many of whom support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). And as a member in good standing of 4, I regard the Jewish establishment as reactionary on the Israel issue.
By the way, here’s another sign of rancorous division within the official Jewish community. A group of ardent Israel supporters raised the Israeli flag at Clifton City Hall yesterday; and the event was marked by Islamophobia and Palestinian-bashing, from which the local Jewish Federation dissociated itself.
NorthJersey.com says:the flag-raising was a response to a Palestinian flag-raising at city hall last month that drew a large crowd.
Sarah Florans, 30, who grew up in Passaic and now lives in Israel, said she was worried that the prior event drew such a large crowd that perhaps, on the sidelines, there were “violent extremists” who could be threatening to the local Jewish community in Passaic and Clifton.
“I want to make sure there’s enough support for the Israeli flag-raising,” she said. “I can’t believe how much the world hates Israel. It’s so mind-blowing to me.”
Buddy Macy, 59, of Little Falls said he was “appalled” by the Palestinian flag-raising “because it’s not a country, they’re Arab like everyone around them.”
He said he agreed with the sentiments of Rabbi Robert Mark, who turned out to be a controversial figure at Sunday’s event.
Mark, with a fiery tone, spoke at length about the reasons he believed that a peace agreement and two-state solution would be unattainable. Sarcastically saying he would talk only about positive things in his speech, he declared, “the only things the Palestinians export is terror and radical Islam,” and he drew applause after suggesting that Palestinians would deny Jews the right to live in a hypothetical Palestinian state.
The Jewish Federation didn’t like this.
After the event, members of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey sought to distance themselves from Mark. Miriam Allenson, director of communication for the group, said his tone was “inflammatory and it doesn’t solve any problems,” and that compromise was important to achieving peace.
Per Waxman, the Federations are on the right, but are fearful of those further to the right. While J Street opposes Jewish Voice for Peace. Finally, the beginnings of a real conversation in the Jewish community.