Monday, October 26, 2009

A J Street Convention Vignette

From The Tablet:

...Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, that movement’s organizing body, showed up for a “town hall” discussion with J Street’s founder, Jeremy Ben Ami. Yoffie, an early supporter of J Street, publicly broke with the left-leaninglobby group during last winter’s Gaza war, when he wrote an op-ed for the Forward accusing the organization of being “appallingly naive” for equivocating between Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel and the IDF’s retaliation. (The flame war continued with a statement from J Street accusing Yoffie of misreading the outrage among American Jews at the scope of the destruction in Gaza.) Now, 10 months later, Yoffie drew boos from the crowd for suggesting that Gazans invited their current circumstances by voting for Hamas after Israel withdrew from the territory in 2006, and for defending Israel against accusations, particularly in a recent U.N. report by Richard Goldstone, that it may have committed war crimes in Gaza. “Israel is not in violation of international law in terms of the way they’re dealing with the Gaza question,” Goldstone said. “Oh, come on!” several people catcalled. (They all clapped at the end, though.)
Well, if that's the reception he received and that's the thinking of the J Street travelers, I truly hope the run into a dead-end soon.

Oh, and this insight into the mind of a J Streeter (and Peace Now executive):

The J Street conference which has been the subject of much press and blogger debate is both a reunion of many of us who have fought for decades for an Israel that embraces democratic, Jewish and (yes, it is NOT a contradiction) pluralist and Jewish ideals and of young people...who want to join into support for an Israel that supports their ideals. American Jewry remains the most liberal organized entity in American public life. We embrace ideals like human rights, pluralism and diversity. We cling to democracy as a way to defend our own rightful place in America's polity. And these are the values we want to see--but don't--in the Israel so many of us love.

The reason that I have spent decades suupporting the Peace Now movement in Israel is because for me, it holds the promise--the only promise--of nurturing and sustaining an Israel that becomes not just a light unto the nations, but perhaps even more importantly, a normal state--but a state that embraces democratic values by which it judges itself, the very same values that we, as Americans hold dear...we can, likewise, see ourselves and our Jewish future in a Jewish state that embraces the same values that we hold dear--democracy, support for human rights and the right to embrace your individualism. That is the essence of who we are as American Jews--it is why the American Jewish community still supports President Obama at a level of plus 74% and it is , in the end, what should guide us as a community when we support Israel-an Israel that supports values that are embedded in our Americanness and in our Jewishness.

No comments: