ADL sends message to president, J Street responds (and ADL writes back–UPDATED)


The Anti-Defamation League has an ad in the New York Times headlined, "Mr. President, the problem isn’t settlements, it’s Arab rejection."

"Mr. President, it’s time to stop pressuring our vital friend and ally," states the ad. "It’s now time to direct your attention to the rejectionists who refuse to recognize Israel and negotiate an end to the conflict. With your leadership, yes, we can have peace. But the path begins with the recognition of Israel."

J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami responded with an open letter to ADL national director Abe Foxman on J Street’s Web site, in which Ben-Ami decries "pointing fingers" and says he wants everyone to get along:

Couldn’t we all agree that the best route forward is not for each side to call on the other to move first, but to get all sides to the table with strong U.S. leadership to figure out how we move together before time runs out on a peaceful resolution to this conflict and we lock ourselves into a status quo that in the near future threatens Israel’s very nature as a Jewish, democratic homeland?

UPDATE: Foxman has responded to Ben-Ami with his own open letter to the J Street leader:

Not only do we share the goal of a two-state solution and normalization of relations between the Arab world and Israel, but we have no problem as well with the President’s belief in the need for greater U.S. engagement in the process and his outreach to the Muslim world.

And if the immediate goal is to get the parties to come to the table to negotiate, we’re all for that, too.

When, however, the suggestion is made that the Arab world and the Palestinians have taken concrete steps toward a true peace with Israel, and then policy is based on that, the problems begin.

Foxman goes on to note Camp David, the Gaza disengagement and other Israeli moves toward the Palestinians, and concludes:

We have no doubt that we share similar goals. We believe the President does as well.  The assumptions that seem to underlie the Administration’s path toward those goals are, in our view, misguided and troubling. We believe they won’t lead to the results desired, will cause unnecessary tensions between the two allies, the U.S. and Israel, and divert the region from its ultimate challenge, from Iran and other Islamic extremists.


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