Israelis and Palestinians: How US Politics Has Evolved


To the Editor:

ReNew Wave of Democrats Tests the Party’s Blanket Support for Israel” (news article, Oct. 8):

While focusing on a handful of Democratic candidates who have faced heavy right-wing criticism for their positions on Israel, your article misses the larger evolution in American politics on the issue.

Instead of relying on the outdated idea that support for Israelis and Palestinians must be mutually exclusive, a growing majority of Democratic candidates increasingly recognize that it is possible and necessary to promote policies, like the two-state solution, that benefit both peoples.

They understand that criticizing some policies of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — like settlement expansion — is actually vital to defending Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

And they know that spurious charges of “anti-Israel” from hyperpartisan groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition don’t carry any weight with most voters or with most American Jews.

The old political playbook, in which any support for the rights of Palestinians was painted as a political liability, no longer applies, and that’s a good thing for Israel. We need leaders who will move past these tired dichotomies, which have only undermined United States efforts to secure Middle East peace.

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Washington
The writer is the president of J Street, a liberal Jewish group.

To the Editor:

Thank you for covering the increasing support for Palestinian rights among American politicians.

A growing number of Jews — especially young Jews — oppose Israeli policies and support B.D.S. (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), the Palestinian-led civil society movement pressing Israel to respect Palestinian rights.

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My organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, has long criticized Israeli policies and American support to Israel. We endorsed the B.D.S. call in 2015, and have only grown in size since taking that step: We have more than 15,000 dues-paying members, 70 chapters nationally and more than 250,000 online supporters.

The complexities of the Jewish community’s opinions about Israel and B.D.S. can no longer be ignored, nor can the Jewish community be simplified as a monolithic group. In the end, support for Palestinian rights is not based on one’s religion or ethnicity; it’s based on values and hopes for a shared, just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Rebecca Vilkomerson
Brooklyn
The writer is executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.



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