February 14, 2008
Whither the Left?
The L.A. battle for Israel's survival
(Page 3 - Previous Page)Even so, the fact of the matter is that progressive Jews engage in many issues, such as Darfur, labor, hunger, education. "A lot of single-issue focus comes from the right, but a lot of people on the left have a far wider array of causes they put their money behind: this isn't the top of their list or the only thing they do," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, a Washington-based consultant who last year was reported to be involved in a major pro-peace effort but declined to discuss his project specifically.
Talk Is Cheap
"I think what's needed is a political effort," Ben-Ami said. "There's a sense on the part of candidates and elected officials that they can't speak as freely and put it on the table as openly."
Ben-Ami said the left needs to mobilize technology and funding and show there is support for people who talk about the issue from a progressive point of view. "If we create that political space, the policy dialogue will be much more open and much more rich."
Ben-Ami is planning to launch a major initiative in the next few months, Washington insiders say. (One of the reasons he may be keeping it under wraps is that early press reports called it a George Soros project; the businessman was "at the table," but is not currently involved.) Some believe the project involves uniting the existing organizations under one umbrella, others believe it may channel funds to existing organizations to continue their work.
Speaking generally, Ben-Ami said: "The sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces, and if there were a way to bring the disparate parts of this community together, we would actually be a more effective voice."
The question, then, might be what a new, unified, pro-peace movement would look like. Would it be a left-wing AIPAC? Would it take on the multimillion dollar lobby? And would that be a good thing, or would it weaken America's support for Israel?
While there are some, like IPF's outspoken Rosenberg, who would take on AIPAC, many in the pro-peace camp believe the point would be not to be anti-anything, but rather just to provide an alternate voice for peace.
"There's plenty to be worked on together," Ben-Ami said. "The pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby can agree on the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel. We all have the same goal in mind: to ensure the best interest between Israel and the United States. The overall goal is the same."