Stewart Ain’s article “U.S.-Israel Tensions Now Hitting Pulpits” (April 23), illustrates a high degree of ambivalence among American rabbis over President Barack Obama’s unprecedented serious, forthright and evenhanded efforts to achieve a lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is entirely understandable after eight years of totally laissez-faire U.S. diplomacy, which left the parties to their own devices, resulting in today’s virtually intractable stalemate, with the positions of both sides moving even further apart.
These citations, however, present a misleading picture of where the American Jewish community as a whole stands on these issues. According to a recent poll, commissioned by J Street, American Jews, by 79 to 23 percent, support “exerting pressure” on both sides to make the difficult if inescapable compromises necessary to achieve peace. Fifty-three percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, “It does not bother me when American Jews disagree publicly with Israeli government policy.”
This reflects an implicit recognition by a majority of our community that having stated U.S. objections to Israeli policies for decades in private, particularly regarding settlements, has done little if anything to deter Israel from this self-destructive course. It is to be hoped that stating these objections for all the world, including the Israeli electorate, to hear will induce the Israeli government to treat them more seriously.