The J Street conference in Washington DC is over. There is so much to say, reflections, criticisms, praise and exhaustion. Until I have the chance to fully re-engage, Mondoweiss have two good pieces about the event (here and here).
The challenges facing anybody in the US to seriously shift the dialogue was revealed once more with a speech a few days ago by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, who participated in a panel discussion titled, “The View from the Hill: Congress and the U.S. – Israel Relationship”. Other panelists included Reps. Bob Filner, D-CA; Steve Cohen, D-TN; Jared Polis, D-CO; and Charles Boustany, R-LA. The panel was moderated by Bob Franken.
Her remarks are below:
Thank you for inviting me to participate in J Street’s first national conference. I am always proud to join my friends and colleagues on this panel who are dedicated, as I am, to a peaceful and secure future for the Jewish State of Israel.
From the earliest minutes of her founding, the United State has supported Israel, and Israel in turn has been a reliable friend and the closest of allies in a dangerous but vital region of the world. A strong Israel is a matter of U.S. national interest as is an enduring peace in the region.
As a member of Congress and a Jew, it has been gratifying to me that U.S. Congressional support for Israel has been strongly bi-partisan, actually nearly universal, even when our politics has been fraught with partisan tensions. Financial assistance to Israel has always been widely supported. Joint strategic, economic and scientific endeavors that benefit both the United States and Israel are routinely enacted without controversy.
Still, after 61 years, Israelis live in a state of perpetual danger with only intermittent respite from deadly conflict. And so, as Israel’s best friend in the world, it is quite natural that we would be debating how best to most effectively to work toward long-term security. I believe that means actively working to achieve a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians. While no third party can execute such an agreement, it is clear that the United States can and must play a role if it is to happen.
In addition, long term security means working with Israel and other countries in the region to avert a nuclear arms race and to bring about a peaceful resolution caused by Iran’s nuclear program.
Palestinians are an after-thought, at best. Occupation doesn’t really exist.