American Doves Back Call for U.S. Push for Middle East Peace

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published May 14, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A group of prominent American Jews is circulating an online petition supporting the Obama administration’s “vigorous encouragement” of Israel and the Palestinians to “make the concessions necessary” to advance the peace process.

The petition, posted at forthesakeofzion.org, claims to have been inspired by the European Jewish Call for Reason, otherwise known as J Call. A petition that this group submitted to the European Parliament on May 3 condemned Israel’s policy of establishing settlements in the occupied West Bank and in Palestinian-dominated East Jerusalem as “morally and politically wrong.” The American group’s petition cites and supports that characterization.

The American petition’s signers are, for the most part, known doves in the Jewish community. They include demographer Steven M. Cohen, historian Hasia Diner former senior Clinton administration official Peter Edelman, retired federal appellate court judge Abner Mikva, Forward publisher Samuel Norich and Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. The petition was organized by Cohen and by Leonard Fein, a Forward columnist.

The initiative comes at a time of heated debate within the Jewish community over the peace process and the particular issue of Jerusalem’s final status. In early May, President Obama had a White House lunch with writer Elie Wiesel, who had penned a letter calling on the president to ease pressure on Israel over the status of Jerusalem.

Titled “For the Sake of Zion,” the new petition argues that a two-state solution is crucial to Israel’s interest if it is to remain both Jewish and democratic. The American letter calls for a construction freeze in the “disputed” territories, which presumably include East Jerusalem.

There are apparent differences between the American and European petitions. While the European J Call asks the European Union and America to “put pressure on both parties,” meaning the Israelis and the Palestinians, the American version calls instead for “vigorous encouragement” by America of the parties to make concessions to each other. “The word ‘pressure’ is obviously an inflammatory word,” Fein said. “Our objective is not to inflame, but to persuade.”

The American letter calls on the Palestinians to forswear terrorism and their claim to a right of return. It calls on the Israelis to split sovereignty of Jerusalem and to “dismantle the settlements considered illegal under Israeli law.” No mention is made of controversial but legal West Bank settlements, including those in Hebron and Ariel.

A total of 89 people had signed the online petition as of press time. The petition went online May 13.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com






Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.