|Written by Ruby Ong|
03 March 2011
A Message from Daniel Sokatch
There’s something pretty exhilarating about spending three days with 2400 people. Especially when those 2400 people care enough about Israel to show up at the J Street Conference in Washington, DC.
Anyone who thinks that J Street – or for that matter, NIF – represents one ideologically monolithic view on Israel’s most difficult issues just isn’t paying attention. There were thoughtful differences of opinion on everything, from peace negotiations to the “Arab spring” to the future of democracy in Israel. And I came away from the conference hopeful about both Israel and about the many ways American Jews can connect to the Jewish homeland.
The failure of the proposed parliamentary “inquiry” into the human rights community is one cause for guarded optimism. Defeating that anti-democratic measure is a victory in an ongoing struggle to preserve rights in Israel that Americans take for granted. The Members of Knesset who belong to the centrist Kadima party, and traveled to the J street conference despite some profound disagreements over policy, reassured me that there are Israeli officials who believe in the give-and-take over difficult issues that should characterize a democracy and that exemplify Jewish tradition. And yesterday’s resignation of a veteran Israeli diplomat who can no longer serve this Foreign Minister and this government, reassures us that flexibility and civil discourse are not synonyms for cynicism and the failure of conscience.
As we tell you often, the New Israel Fund is both a partnership of Israelis and lovers of Israel around the world and a “big-tent” organization. The warp and woof of Israeli society are our business, and we have transformed that society in so many ways in our 32 years. Whether you are a J Street Jew or an AIPAC Jew or neither, whether you call yourself Zionist or post-Zionist, there is a home for you in the New Israel Fund. All that is necessary to join us in a belief in the ideal of an Israel not yet attained, but that can be, in our lifetimes.