As political crisis loomed in the nation’s capital, Marblehead resident Lynn Nadeau traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the J Street national conference as part of a delegation of over 150 pro-Israel pro-peace activists from the Greater Boston area, and over 2800 from across the United States, Israel, and beyond.
The conference, entitled “Our Time to Lead,” was
the largest gathering of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement ever. Throughout
the four-day conference, which took place September 28-October 1, attendees
engaged with political and opinion leaders, policy makers and academics to address
the central question of how best to mobilize support for US leadership to
resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nine hundred students attended,
including 90 from Brandeis, Clark, Harvard, and Tufts.
The event featured major policy addresses from political heavyweights including Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Justice Minister and chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, who argued forcefully for the resolution of the conflict through the achievement of a two-state solution. In addition to Livni, seven Members of Knesset from six political parties spoke at the conference, including representatives from the ultra-Orthodox Shas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. Other notable speakers included US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and civil rights icon Representative John Lewis.
Said Nadeau, a member of J Street North Shore Organizing Committee, ʺThe conference was very exciting and inspiring. The smell of hope was in the air. In the words of J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami in his keynote, 'Peace is necessary, peace is possible, peace is just.' I have always believed that peace is necessary and just, but I left the conference -- after hearing from members of Congress, members of Knesset, and an array of experts in the field -- feeling that peace was truly possible.ʺ
The conference came at an especially critical time, as the Obama administration forges ahead with recently renewed negotiations to achieve a two-state peace agreement within nine months. Vice President Biden, coming straight from a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a rousing keynote to thousands of attendees, saying “"This very moment may offer the best opportunity for peace."
On the final day of the conference, over 900 J
Street supporters fanned out over Capitol Hill for 250 Congressional meetings
to urge our Representatives and Senators to get behind the peace talks. Even
though congressional energy was devoted to urgently addressing the first day of
the federal government shutdown, Representatives Kennedy, Tierney, Tsongas, and
Senators Warren and Markey nevertheless took the time to meet directly with J
Street delegations, indicating their concern for the Israeli-Palestinian
J Street also announced that it was launching
the 2 Campaign, a one million dollar national advertising initiative to demonstrate broad American Jewish support for the
“We’re going to build that Great Constituency for Peace that Secretary of State Kerry has called for,” declared J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “We’re going to explain what it means; we’re going to be upfront about the sacrifices and the tough decisions – but also about the tremendous rewards both Israelis and Palestinians will reap from peace.”The campaign will start by gathering tens of thousands of signatures backing the parameters of a peace agreement and the compromises both sides must make to get there. From there, it will build outwards to demonstrate the growing constituency for peace in dozens of town hall meetings, educational programs across the nation and outreach to Congress.
J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people. J Street believes that Israel's Jewish and democratic character depend on a two-state solution, resulting in a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security. (www.jstreet.org) J Street Boston, with over 12,000 supporters in the greater Boston area, is the local home for pro-peace, pro-Israel engagement and advocacy. (www.jstreet.org/boston / firstname.lastname@example.org)