Friday, March 04, 2011

Pro-Peace Jewish Lobby Group Urges Obama to Seize Moment

by Eli Clifton,, March 3, 2011
WASHINGTON – J Street, the Washington-based “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” advocacy group, drew a large crowd to its annual conference this year despite criticism over its controversial calls for the Barack Obama administration not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Palestinian protesters hold a banner during a rally against Israeli settlements. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

In the end, the administration vetoed the resolution, but the controversy appeared to have had no negative effect on the organisation’s turnout for the just-ended conference, which had 2,400 participants – 900 more than last year – and over 500 students participating.
Over 50 members of Congress were in attendance and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a surprise appearance to honour Kathleen Peratis, vice chair of the J Street Education Fund and the recipient of the group’s Tzedek V’Shalom award.

With pro-democracy revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya dominating the headlines over the past week, uncertainty about the shifting geopolitics in the region was a recurring theme in the remarks delivered by J Street leadership, panelists and an Obama administration senior Middle East adviser.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president, told attendees, “We know in our hearts that it’s not just the status quo in the Arab world that is bound to change, it is the status quo between Israel and the Palestinian people that has to change as well,” at the conference’s kickoff on Saturday night.

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