Jewish Groups' Silence Is Deafening After John Kerry's Plea for Peace

Refuse To Heed Calls To Push Israel to Talks

Snubbed? John Kerry passionately urged American Jewish leaders to push Israel to get back to the negotiating table. Their silence has spoken volumes.
getty images
Snubbed? John Kerry passionately urged American Jewish leaders to push Israel to get back to the negotiating table. Their silence has spoken volumes.

By Yermi Brenner and Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published June 20, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Despite almost uniformly claiming to back a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, most major American Jewish organizations have declined to rally behind Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent call on them to speak with Israeli decision makers on the urgency of renewing negotiations with the Palestinians

In interviews with the Forward, some American Jewish leaders say they have stayed quiet because they feel that the onus is on the Palestinians to push for peace. Others told the Forward that they resented Kerry for asking them to pressure Israelis to come to the table.

“It’s inappropriate for an American official to try to engage and recruit American citizens, just because they happen to be Jewish, to put pressure on an Israeli government to do one thing or another,” said Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s just wrong.”

Kerry’s appeal to the Jewish leaders, in a June 6 address to the American Jewish Committee, came weeks after his last of a handful of official visits to the Middle East on behalf of a renewed administration effort to re-start peace talks. Those talks came to a halt in 2010, amid Palestinian demands that Israel cease expanding exclusively Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Israel’s insistence on continuing to build them.

Though Israelis refrained from announcing new major settlement construction projects in the West Bank settlements during Kerry’s recent Middle foray, the government continued to allow ongoing construction, and approved plans for nearly 300 new homes in one West Bank settlement. Kerry’s effort appeared to be stalling by the time of the American Jewish Committee speech.

Though the phrasing of his request to the AJC audience was indirect, Kerry’s meaning was clear: the Secretary of State was asking his audience to use their influence on the Israelis who would be deciding whether or not to cooperate with his peace push.

“Let your leaders and your neighbors alike know that you understand this will be a tough process with tough decisions, but that you’re ready to back the leaders who make them,” Kerry said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.