Dear Secretary Blinken,
Our organization has been advocating for Israeli-Palestinian peace for more than four decades. We have seen exciting, hope-inducing breakthroughs. We have also witnessed crushing setbacks disappointments.
One such enduring obstacle is the notion that leaders and vast segments of the public, both in the United States and Israel, dismiss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as unsolvable, as a necessary evil, as a tolerable part of life.
As Americans, we find this dismissive attitude alarming because we believe that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a key national security interest of the United States and must be a foreign policy priority of our government. As American Jews who care deeply about Israel’s future, we view this dismissive attitude as a threat to Israel’s very existence as a democracy that is the national home of the Jewish people. A recent report by Israel’s leading national security think tank reminded Israeli policymakers that the conflict is “a core challenge for the national security of Israel” and that continuing to ignore or dismiss it is leading the state down a disastrous “one state” path, which threatens Israel’s character and future.
We find this attitude alarming also because we care deeply about Palestinians’ human rights. As the conflict lingers, without adequate political initiative to address it, the more this anomaly is normalized, the more the unacceptable is accepted.
We therefore found the State Department’s dismissive reaction to the current Amnesty International report on Israel disappointing. Criticism of the report is more than understandable. We share some of it. But we believe that straight out dismissing it, as the US government has done, does not serve the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
What matters to us is not the report, its controversial framing, or the controversial terminology it uses. We are concerned about what is beyond controversy, about the festering situation on the ground in territories Israel captured in 1967, where Palestinians have been under occupation for almost 55 years. There is no dispute that the situation there is unacceptable. It is bad for Israel as it is bad for generations of Palestinians whose basic rights and liberties are denied. It is a moral and political hindrance for Israel and a source of deep disgrace and alienation for Americans who care deeply about the Jewish homeland, and about the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state.
We urge the Biden administration, rather than focusing on language and dismissing the festering issues on the ground, to address the occupation and its ills, including its terrible cost to Israelis and Palestinians – and to America’s national interests. The US governments should work together with the government of Israel, the Palestinian leadership, and other stakeholders such as the international Quartet, to pave a way to ending the occupation and establishing a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
We will be there to help you do that.
President and CEO
Chair of the Board