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June 7, 2013

J Street Takes a U Turn into Ariel?

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/j_street_takes_a_u_turn_into_ariel/

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The mission of the lobby J Street is “a two state resolution to the conflict with the Palestinian people.” Decried as an anti-Israel lobby by staunch Israel supporters who view the two-state solution as the Arabs' "Final Solution," J Street focuses much of its efforts on reviving the defunct peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This relentless focus, combined with J Street's support for US lawmakers with poor records on Israel, have often alienated J Street from mainstream pro-Israel organizations. The obsession with solving supposed Arab grievances has sidelined on-the-ground humanitarian concerns of those living in Israel and particularly in Judea & Samaria, Arabs and Jews alike.

But with the recent visit of J Street to the City of Ariel in Samaria, perhaps a new "peace process" has begun, one that should be a prerequisite to any resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the peace process between Jews and Jews. Any resolution with the Arabs that requires or precipitates a diplomatic, intellectual and physical assault on Jews, particularly those living in Judea and Samaria, will simply open up a more dangerous front: Jews battling Jews, Jews uprooting Jews from their homes, Jews hating one another even more.

My colleague at Ariel Development Fund, Avi Zimmerman, has documented what may be the start of this Jewish-Jewish peace process through his blog on Times of Israel about the visit of J Street's campus arm to Ariel. He wonders if J Street U is taking a U turn, writing:

By engaging with the City of Ariel through an unadulterated, boots-on-the-ground, personal encounter, J Street U has taken a giant leap forward on behalf of an organization that may soon need to grapple with the waning prospects that its godfather, Peace Now, has had to face. The more the academic and journalistic communities increasingly concur that the long awaited “two state solution” is doomed to failure, the more J Street will be in need of a new approach. Now, perhaps more than ever, the only way to be “Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace” (their slogan) is to be thoroughly circumspect and sincerely committed to analyzing all angles of our current reality in order to reach a viable conclusion.

J Street U is the future of J Street – not only in terms of its target audience age demographic, but more importantly, due to its recently demonstrated onsite openness to multiple narratives. It’s safe to assume that one visit to Ariel will not cause the organization, nor any of its participants, to take an about face U-turn with regards to what they think and believe about settlements, Judea and Samaria, democracy and demography. But that should not be the objective. The goal is to raise an informed and engaged generation of young adults who truly care about the future of Israel and truly care about the prospects for peace. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE BLOG.

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