Why We Support “We Are For Israel”: A Response to J-Street’s Rabbis Letter
“We Are For Israel” recognizes the sincerity of J-Street’s intent to represent a centrist Jewish community response toward Israel. However, J-Street’s actions have led to its forfeiture of such a claim – despite the ostensible moderateness of its Mission Statement.
Many rabbis have been looking to support a centrist, non-partisan organization seeking a realistic two state solution. It was to fill that centrist gap that “We Are For Israel” was established. Within a matter of weeks, a large number of supporters, including some 300 rabbis and rabbinical students, have joined our ranks. Here are a few reasons why they have chosen “We Are For Israel”:
“We Are For Israel” Favors a Non-Partisan Program of Advocacy
We believe that making America’s relationship with Israel a partisan issue endangers the US-Israel relationship.
At a time when many American Jews have become confused by certain aspects (often contradictory) of this Administration’s policies toward Israel, J-Street has emerged as having played a consistent role in encouraging (indeed literally counseling) those policies. Having advocated for and defended this Administration’s policy decisions regarding Israel, it is not surprising that J-Street’s recent TV ad explicitly gave its support for the Obama Administration. Of additional concern is that the recent ad, following a traditional “us vs. them” political attack strategy, ended up portraying many Democrats and Independents, much less progressive Republicans, as if they opposed a two state solution altogether, lumping them all in with the right most wing of the Republican party!
“We Are For Israel” supports the efforts of the US Administration to work with Israel and the Palestinians toward peace, and we note that the Administration would appear in recent months to be acting in a less confrontational manner toward Israel. We support this apparent change of approach.
We Support Giving Israel a Fair Hearing
Those who support a secure Israel should not have automatically condemned her over the Mavi Marmara incident, or questioned her right to exercise a blockade on Gaza, both of which J-Street did in the wake of the flotilla incident. The Free Gaza Flotilla was not designed to send humanitarian aid, which could easily have been transferred by other means. As is now clear, its intention was to create a well-publicized provocation that would break the blockade and enable military supplies to be shipped there in the future. Had it succeeded, it would have damaged Israel’s security and the prospects for peace. [If you have not seen the excellent BBC documentary on the flotilla, we have links posted on our blog.]
Public condemnation of Israel by those who purport to support her simply plays into the hands of her detractors and enemies.
Lobbying Against Construction
We believe that it was a mistake to lobby the US Administration to pressure Israel into halting housing construction across the “Green-line” so as to encourage the Palestinian Authority to participate in peace talks. Such a halt should be a concession sought during negotiations, not a precondition for them. Irrespective of the question of the merits of calling for a halt in building, this initiative, encouraged by J-Street, simply resulted in a diplomatic row that harmed the US-Israel relationship, undermined Israeli trust in the Obama Administration, and hardened the Palestinian negotiating position.
“We Are For Israel” seeks a two state solution that will result in Israel living in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state. We do not believe that the nature of the advocacy and particular policies promoted by J-Street serve that end. That is why we have lent our support to “We Are For Israel”.
We hope you will join the growing number of rabbis and rabbinical students who have added their names as “Rabbis For Israel” by signing on to our Mission Statement.
May it be a year that sees Shalom increase in our world!