In response to “Analysis: Our Time to Lead” (Oct. 4): I take issue with your dismissive commentary about the fourth J Street Conference. The conference was nothing less than a tour de force. Listening to the broad range of speakers — from MKs representing Shas, Likud, Labor, Ha’Tnuah and Meretz to Israeli, Palestinian and American NGO leaders and think tank experts and from Joe Biden, Martin Indyk and John Lewis to Michael Oren — we were immersed in central issues of the conflict and the peace process from the first moments to the last. The 900 bright, knowledgeable, passionate and committed students, hailing from every region of our country are clearly destined to become future leaders.
As an active member of J Street’s President’s Advisory Council, I am pleased to report that J Street has grown exponentially over the past five years. This is due to the outstanding, principled leadership of Jeremy Ben Ami and the fact that J Street provides a home for those of us in the U.S. and abroad, yes including many Israelis, who love Israel and yet believe it is our right and responsibility to challenge policies and decisions that we believe undermine Israel as a democratic society and Jewish homeland and that could destroy the Zionist dream. … It is also important to emphasize that it is not J Street’s intention to stand in opposition to AIPAC. Both organizations and their members care deeply for Israel. Numerous members of J Street’s leadership, members of the rabbinic cabinet and members of Congress support both J Street and AIPAC. There is more than enough room in Abraham’s tent for the many voices that engage in the dialogue about Israel. Let’s keep expanding, deepening and enriching the public conversation about Israel’s future, especially exploring the issues of democracy, justice and human rights as they pertain to a final status agreement.
Today, especially in light of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s unflagging support of the ongoing peace negotiations, J Street is intensifying its focus on building a constituency of peace advocates. J Street’s newly announced 2 Campaign is designed to explore the difficult choices that Israelis and Palestinians must make to reach a viable, sustainable agreement. In these challenging days ahead, J Street will be inviting our community to discuss the negotiations’ core issues, including security, borders, Jerusalem and the right of return. Now, more than ever, it is our time to support our country’s energetic efforts to turn years of deadlock into a historical achievement.