Top US Jews urge PM to make 'sacrifices for peace'

More than one hundred US leaders pen letter to Netanyahu, calling on him to make Israel's readiness for peace clear to Obama.

Obama and Netanyahu (photo credit: GPO)
Obama and Netanyahu
(photo credit: GPO)
WASHINGTON – A group of 100 American Jews, among them prominent philanthropists, rabbis and academics, has written a letter urging Israel to take concrete steps toward peace.
The letter, initiated by the Israel Policy Forum, came in the wake of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel last month.
“We believe that this is a compelling moment for you and your new government to respond to President Obama’s call for peace by taking concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two states for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the letter told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
It also urged him to “work closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”
Signatories included philanthropists Charles Bronfman, S. Daniel Abraham and Lester Crowne; Rabbis Eric Yoffie and David Saperstein, leaders of the Reform movement; and former Pentagon official Dov Zakheim and former US congressman Mel Levine.
Israel Policy Forum chairman Peter Joseph said the organization had yet to hear a response from the Prime Minister’s Office, which was sent the letter earlier in the week.
“This group and the larger Jewish American community have a huge stake in Israel and I think it’s important for leaders here and in Israel to be aware that if they’re prepared to take steps and show leadership, those steps will be respected and encouraged,” Joseph said of the importance of sending the letter.
Morrie Amitay, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, made clear, however, that many American Jews did not support sending such a letter to Israel’s leadership.
The letter, he said, “should be calling on the Palestinians to provide concrete confidence- building steps instead of Israel.”
Joseph defended the letter, noting that it included a passage arguing that such steps from Israel “would challenge Palestinian leaders to take similarly constructive steps, including, most importantly, a prompt return to the negotiating table.”
Joseph also suggested that those who signed this letter could have more impact on fellow Jews than on Palestinians, who he said need to make their own call on their leaders for steps toward peace.