by Aaron Ahuvia
How can advocates for a two-state solution win the debate within the American Jewish community? To a large extent, we already have. In February 2008, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella agency representing 14 national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils, voted that “the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states — the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security.”
Only one Orthodox affiliate objected and even that only abstained. We’ve come a long way from the time that advocating this view could get one branded as a self-hating Jew, but the debate isn’t truly over yet.
American Jewish opinion falls into four broad categories. On the hawkish extreme, a small but well-funded group I call “Greater Israel maximalists” still opposes the creation of a Palestinian state as a matter of principle and supports settlement expansion. In the opposite corner, a small but vocal group of “Palestinian solidarity Jews” sees Israel as the villain in the ongoing conflict and often does not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state at all.
According to a variety of polls, about 85 percent of US Jews fall between these two extremes and support a two-state solution, at least in principle. This large central group can itself be divided into two broad camps, which I call “pro-Israel realists” and “worried Jews.” The ‘pro-Israel realists,’ such as Meretz USA and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom supporters, see a negotiated two-state solution as strongly in Israel’s interests and see the status quo as highly dangerous; they want to move quickly towards a negotiated agreement. The ‘worried Jews’ on the other hand support a two-state solution in principle but see it as risky for Israel, whereas they see the status quo as relatively safer.
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