J Street to campaign for US initiative in peace process

"A fight against the tea-partyization of the pro-Israel position.”

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
June 16, 2010 05:59
2 minute read.
The J Street Web site

j street website 311. (photo credit: www.jstreet.org)

 
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The Washington-based left-wing group J Street will launch a new media campaign in late June aimed at encouraging the American administration to take greater initiative in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Titled the “Community of Yes,” the campaign aims to “say ‘enough!’ to the ‘chorus of no,’” according to J Street’s vice president of communications, Isaac Luria.

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It comes as a response to what the organization views as the politicization of support for Israel by some on the American Right.

“There are people trying to turn support for Israel into a political football,” said Luria, “people like [radio personality Rush] Limbaugh, Sarah Palin or [Republican Congressman] Eric Cantor. This is in part a fight against the tea-partyization of the pro-Israel position.”

According to Luria, “support for Israel is broad and deep in America.

There is a mainstream that supports both Israel and peace.”

It is especially urgent in the wake of the flotilla crisis, Luria added.



The campaign will invite the participation of people “of all stripes who know there’s a two-state solution” – including those outside the Jewish community.

The organization is mum on specifics, because the details of what the campaign will ask of the American government are still being debated. But some of the general principles behind the campaign are slowly taking shape. It may call on the government to turn the next summit of the Mideast Quartet, slated to take place in Moscow sometime in the coming months, into a more formal and comprehensive peace summit.

“Whatever it is, it’s got to be done in a way that works. We want [the White House] to start getting clearer about the stakes, to meet the needs of the moment. America should lead the effort [for peacemaking],” Luria said.

J Street was founded in 2008 as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization seeking to unite and strengthen the left-wing American Jewish camp. It has grown to 43 staff members and an annual budget estimated at over $5 million. It has faced criticism in the broader American Jewish community for views seen by some as being overly critical of Israel, but it has asserted that its criticism of Israeli policies stems from its concern for Israel’s long-term welfare.

The organization will have delegates at the 36th Zionist Congress which opened this week in Jerusalem.

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