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!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • 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.