J Street head Jeremy Ben-Ami talks to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and clarifies that his group is desperate to remain in the centre. The key problem with this position, of course, is that such “centrist” negotiations have taken place for years and the power imbalance is largely ignored. The Palestinians are under occupation. This won’t change simply by giving pretty speeches:
Jeremy Ben-Ami: J Street officially will not use the term “One-State Solution.” That is an oxymoron because it is a one-state nightmare. That is the thing we are most opposed to — moving in a one-state direction.
Jeffrey Goldberg: A nightmare for practical reasons or a nightmare for moral reasons?
JB: A nightmare for the Jewish people. There would be no more Israel. One state is not a solution, one state is a dissolution.
JG: The thing I’m worried about with the conference is that I think most of your supporters are well-meaning, left-of-center Jews who love Israel and are tortured by the various dilemmas, who do stay awake at night worrying about this. But there are others who are glomming on to you guys as a cover, just using you to advance another agenda entirely.
JB: I hope that we have a very strong left flank that attacks us, that Jewish Voice for Peace and other groups that are consistently upset with us for backing Howard Berman’s sanctions plan and for refusing to embrace the Goldstone report and for standing up for the right of Israel to defend itself or for its military aid — I hope we get attacked from the left because I would characterize J Street as the mainstream of the American Jewish community.
JG: You believe that you’re at the center of American Jewish thought?
JB: I believe that we are at the center. The Marty Peretzes and the Michael Goldfarbs and the Lenny Ben-Davids are on the right, to the far right, and there are people to our left, and we are in the middle trying to put forward a thoughtful, moderate, mainstream point of view about how to save Israel as a Jewish home.