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Friday, June 3, 2011

This is What I Meant to Say

Here is what I wished I would have said when I wrote about Daniel Gordis. (Though writing on a cloudy morning in Chicago, I still want my May morning in Jerusalem back!) From J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami, responding to last week's piece from Gordis:
About a month ago, a group of J Street’s Board members and donors met with Daniel Gordis of the Shalem Center during our annual Leadership Mission. J Street makes a real effort to hear a wide range of voices on its trips, from settler leaders to human rights activists, from conservatives like Gordis to those on the Left of the political spectrum.

I appreciated Gordis’s willingness to share his thoughts, even as it was clear there are real differences in how we view the difficult challenges facing Israel and our role as a community in responding to them. I am hopeful, when we next meet, he will choose to listen to J Street’s perspectives and to substantively engage those who hold them, instead of resorting to spurious arguments.
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Why doesn’t Gordis make the case for how Israel is going to survive as a Jewish and a democratic state without making major territorial concessions to the Palestinians now? I believe it’s because he and other neoconservatives cannot credibly argue that the present situation is sustainable for Israel. So they switch the topic to an array of wrongs supposedly committed by J Street.
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We’re happy to continue to answer these and any other questions that Gordis and others may have about J Street’s pro-Israel credentials, but at some point our opponents should stop ducking the underlying issue: the sustainability of the path that Israel is on.
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When we reach the cliff, those of us not living in Israel won’t suffer as immediately as those who do. This is true. But we – your brothers and sisters, your closest friends and family – we will suffer with and for you.

Our children and grandchildren will ask us what we could have done to save Israel. And if we do nothing, we will be asked how it was that we sat by in silence.

At least those of us involved in J Street today will never have to explain how it is that, with our tent under threat, we spent our energy arguing over whom we’d allow inside.
Full article in today's Jerusalem Post can be found here.

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