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Web Letter

I just read J Street's strong statements about their concern about the Goldstone Report and their support of the bill by several Congressmen to suppress it as harmful to Israel. This well-researched report is by a respected supporter of Israel who found the brutality involved in the inavasion of Gaza broke international and military law.

I wrote to J Street that I was no longer a supporter of their organization, since their head-in-the-sand attitude helped no one, including Israel, nor made it remotely possible to pursue peace in the Middle East.

Other Jewish peace organizations have been very outspoken about Israeli policies toward the Palestinian people over the years, but J Street seems to be a mouthpiece for the AIPAC.

I wonder what the young people quoted in the article think of this kind of censorship and how it correlates with their ideals.

Pearl Volkov

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Nov 3 2009 - 12:45am

Web Letter

Far too much ballyhoo has surrounded the emergence of J Street, an organization that seems to perceive the idea of Israel at least hypothetically, some day, returning the 1967 borders as daring, fresh and new.

The truly surprising thing in this writing is the prospect of a teenage Iowan regarding the land running along the coast north of Sinai and south of Lebanon as her "homeland." The Ottoman Turks alone could have made greater claim to that land than anyone calling themselves Israeli today, as they lived on it far longer than the brief and largely recent immigrant population of Europeans and Americans there now.

What I don't see from J Street is any serious intention of addressing, candidly, the reality of Israel. From J Street there is a vague reach towards a "two-state" solution--but there is also the same built-in enmity towards Arab nations and Iran that we see in AIPAC et al. The real challenge of policy-makers charged with bringing a peaceful and positive forward-looking solution to the Israel/Palestine issue is rectifying what is ultimately a disastrous attempt at Western colonialism with the reality that there are now millions of people living in Israel, irrevocably, surrounded by the former residents of the land whom they displaced and the nations of ethnic and religious relatives of those people. Addressing that reality is going to involve Israel and her allies in the West accepting that the former inhabitants of Israel have a right to their own viable, defensible state, right next door to the Israeli nation, and addressing that reality is going to resolve a probably impossible catharsis among the Israeli people and American Jews that the radicalism of the Zionist project may have created a new Jewish homeland but has wrought huge damage and pain otherwise.

What we see instead in the emergence of J Street is a decades-overdue acknowledgement merely that the Palestinian people have not simply faded away and disappeared, or been assimilated into the quasi-apartheid Israeli nation as an underclass of unmentionables. Israel bases much of its claim to legitimacy on the fact that it still exists sixty years after the Nakba; well, the Palestinians still exist sixty years later too. The emergence of J Street, historically, really marks only a forced and grudging acknowledgement in the West that Israel has not succeeded in taking all the land to Jordan. That is a far cry from a movement that will eliminate the illegal occupation of land (Israel's foreign minister currently resides on occupied land, proudly) and address the miserable and hungry inhabitants of the open-air prison camps Israel has created. Frankly, that second task is at this point in time no longer possible. Too much damage has probably been done.

To see the future of Israel, looking at J Street is probably pointless. Look instead at the nation that is now governed by a militarist right wing built on a population marinated in Jewish purity, armed nationalism and frequently religious fanaticism. History has shown us the dubious trajectory of such quasi-fascist nations before.

Seymour Friendly

Seattle, WA

Nov 1 2009 - 1:15pm