Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Contrasting Views: J Street and AIPAC on U.S. Stance Toward East Jerusalem Construction

J Street has launched a campaign supporting Washington’s firm stance against Israel’s latest building plan in East Jerusalem, in sharp contrast to a statement criticizing the U.S. stance by the mainstream American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In a March 16 announcement, J Street, a newer, more dovish but avowedly pro-Israel lobby, said that recent U.S.-Israel tensions were being used by “hawkish pro-Israel activists … to attack the Obama administration over Israel, urging the administration to slow down and back off.”

In response, J Street said it had “delivered over 18,000 signatures” backing the adminstration’s stance to the White House.

Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, made during a visit to the country by Vice President Joseph Biden, strained ties with the U.S., which has said it regarded the announcement an insult to Biden and an affront to the peace process both for its timing and substance.

Biden publicly condemned the new housing project, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for its timing, saying he was caught unaware by the announcement, which came from his Interior Ministry. He did not apologize for its substance and later said that construction of exclusively Jewish housing in predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem would continue.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continued to strongly criticize the Israeli decision publicly and in talks with senior Israelis in the days that followed.

On March 17, Israeli President Shimon Peres called the United States “a true friend” and said that both Israel and the U.S. wanted to ease the recent tensions between the two nations. Netanyahu and Biden spoke by phone late on March 16.

In a March 14 statement, AIPAC, the larger pro-Israel Washington lobby, termed the spate of critical U.S. statements “a matter of serious concern.”

“The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests,” the AIPAC statement said. “We strongly urge the administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.”

In contrast, J Street urged the administration to “turn this crisis into an opportunity for progress on two states” by addressing “a core issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians — the need to establish a border between Israel and the future Palestinian state.

“Too much time has already been lost in getting the two sides into negotiations,” J Street said in a statement released March 15, adding: “We cannot let any single provocative Israeli announcement of construction in East Jerusalem, no matter how infuriating, delay progress toward a two-state solution.

“Bold American leadership is needed now to turn this crisis into a real opportunity to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a fundamental American national security interest.”

Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, told Haaretz, however, that he believed President Obama was a friend of Israel. “But I think it’s a mistaken and counterproductive strategy and flawed analysis of what is in the best interest of the U.S.,” he said. “Support of Israel has served the U.S. interests more than supporting anyone else in the world.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.