J Street takes stronger stand, notices something missing


Last week, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom urged senators not to sign a letter to the president encouraging the Arab world to normalize ties with Israel because it does not mention all of the president’s efforts in the Middle East, such as his demand to halt Israeli settlements. Fellow dovish group J Street, though, stopped short of calling for senators not to sign the AIPAC-backed letter, circulated by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and James Risch (R-Idaho), instead just suggesting that they might want to think about adding language about settlements.  

But this week, the group has taken a clearer stand. In an e-mail to its supporters, the groups tells activists to "urge your Senator to support changes to this one-sided letter so it reflects the President’s balanced approach and specifically mentions his call for a complete Israeli settlement freeze."

The organization also points out something interesting — the Bayh-Risch letter not only doesn’t mention an Israeli settlement freeze, but also doesn’t mention the need for Palestinians to end incitement to violence against Israel, an issue often stressed by more moderate and conservative groups.

The full J Street e-mail is after the jump:[[READMORE]]

Do Jewish Americans and other friends of Israel support President Obama’s active and balanced pursuit of Middle East peace?

We have to prove that the answer to this question is yes — right now.

Defenders of the unworkable status quo are whispering to the White House and Congress that supporting the President’s thoughtful and balanced approach to the Middle East could hurt them politically. [1]

And they’re supporting a sign-on letter in the Senate, authored by Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Risch (R-ID), that directly undercuts the President’s policy, asking that President Obama press only Arab states. [2]  The letter doesn’t even mention the need for Israel to stop building settlements or for Palestinians to end incitement to violence against Israel!

We know that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – support the President’s balanced calls on Israel to freeze settlements, for the Palestinians to rein in violence and incitement, and for Arab states to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.

Click here to urge your Senator to support changes to this one-sided letter so it reflects the President’s balanced approach and specifically mentions his call for a complete Israeli settlement freeze.

The President’s approach is our best hope of breaking the dead-end status quo in the Middle East and securing Israel’s future as a democratic home for the Jewish people.  Without strong American leadership to achieve a two-state solution and a regional comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the window for a two-state solution will likely soon slam shut.

Fifteen months ago, we launched J Street to advocate for such leadership.

Today, with over 100,000 supporters and growing, we find ourselves at a moment of truth.  An American President who inspires us with hope and vision is pursuing the path that is most likely to bring peace and security to Israel and the Middle East.

Those who support the dead-end status quo here are pressuring him to stop – while those who support the status quo in Israel continue expanding settlements in the West Bank and supporting evictions and new construction in East Jerusalem.

Now is the time when J Street supporters have to rally to support the President.  That’s why we’re launching our "August Action Challenge," asking our supporters to take 50,000 actions to support the President’s efforts between now and Labor Day.

Your actions will help us turn decades of conventional wisdom regarding American politics and Israel on its head.  We’ll prove that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – will support the U.S. pushing all sides to make the hard compromises necessary to end decades of conflict and violence.

Start by clicking here to tell your Senators that you support President Obama’s balanced leadership for peace and that Senators Bayh and Risch must amend their letter before they sign on.

During our "August Action Challenge," we’ll offer you many more ways to make your voice heard: emailing the President, calling your Member of Congress, writing to your Senators, helping us run newspaper ads, writing letters to the editor, spreading the word about our efforts, and more.  We’ll keep a running total of the specific actions taken and report to you, the media and the political leaders who need to hear from us on your actions.

By the end of the month, we’ll have demonstrated the deep well of support from friends of Israel for the President’s leadership in achieving a two-state solution now, for ending the stalemate of the past two decades – and for the difficult steps we’re asking Israel and its neighbors to take.

Start today by emailing your Senators to show your support for the President when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

Then, forward this message to five of your friends to tell them now is the moment to stand up for a brave President taking a gutsy and thoughtful approach on this most difficult of issues.

All of our futures are at stake.

– Isaac

Isaac Luria
Campaigns Director
J Street
August 3, 2009[1] "Whispered Worries About Obama," by Gary Rosenblatt. The New York Jewish Week, July 1, 2009.

[2] Bayh-Risch Senate Letter

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