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Peace Now Affiliate Gains Entry to Premier Jewish Umbrella Group

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Americans for Peace Now was accepted as a new member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday, culminating weeks of unprecedented lobbying on both sides of the issue.

The closely watched vote, which came after two hours of late-afternoon debate, was 27-10, with eight abstentions. Another two of the member groups present did not cast ballots.

The Conference of Presidents also voted Monday to grant full membership to the Council of Jewish Federations, which formerly had only observer status.

For Peace Now, admission to organized American Jewry’s premier umbrella grouping caps a meteoric rise to respectability from the dovish movement’s more humble grass-roots origins.

That process began last summer with the elevation of some of the movement’s leaders in Israel to posts in the new Labor government. And in the United States, several of Peace Now’s leaders are either members of the Clinton administration or have considerable influence with it.

“This vote recognizes the American Jewish community’s commitment to inclusion of all pro-Israel voices,” Gail Pressberg, APN’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement issued immediately after the vote.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues in the conference on issues of concern to Israel,” said Letty Cottin Pogrebin, APN co-chair.

There was no immediate reaction from groups opposing APN’s admission. That campaign was led by the Zionist Organization of America, which had charged that APN’s views were outside the Jewish community’s consensus.

But those supporting APN’s entry, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress, maintained that the Jewish community’s umbrella should be wide enough to cover a group that strongly supports Israel and whose dovish positions are supported both in the government corridors in Jerusalem and a significant portion of American Jewish public opinion.

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