I was both dismayed and surprised to read the account published in the Chronicle of the discussions and announced policies of the recent J Street Convention (“Unchecked U.S. aid to Israel challenged at J Street conference,” Nov. 8). The organization purports to be “pro – Israel and pro peace” and at the same time announces policies that endanger Israel’s security and survival.
The policy of advocating restrictions on the use of American funds with respect to settlements, particularly for defense, would impact tens of thousands of Israelites who live in Maale Adumim Aleph and Bet, and adjacent communities which are in Area C, which the Palestinians regard as settlements, but always tacitly agreed to remain part of the Jewish state. These communities need to expand to accommodate additional families and those citizens are equally entitled to assistance and protection.
Aside from my dismay, I was also surprised to hear the argument that expansion of any settlement, or establishment of a new village, is “threatening the possibility of the two state solution.” The stated rationale for the restriction on American aid was “if you want to negotiate with a partner, you don’t bring them to their knees.” It is a false premise. Employees and their labor unions, for over 100 years, have employed strikes in order to successfully bring reluctant employers to the bargaining table. General Motors Corporation, just a week or two ago, reached agreement with the union representing their employees because the strike inflicted economic harm which became insurmountable. There was simply no alternative, and that situation replicated itself countless times in American labor history. The strike weapon, rather than destroy the possibility of settlement, enabled it to proceed to a successful resolution.
J Street cannot and should not ignore Israel’s right to create incentive for the Palestinians to seize the moment to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and to commence negotiations while there is still time left to do so.
Gerald Kobell | Pittsburgh