Arguing that a two-state solution would reduce terrorist attacks on Israel and bring peace to the Middle East, members of the left-of-center J Street called on New Jersey’s two United States senators to show “bold American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Some 60 members of J Street’s Central New Jersey region staged a noontime rally on Aug. 23 outside the building where Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez — both Democrats — have offices.
The demonstration was part of a 24-state “Day of Action” on behalf of a two-state solution.
“We have to take into consideration recent events in the Middle East. We are all very pained by the recent cycle of violence,” said J Street region chair Debbie Schlossberg of East Brunswick as she addressed the crowd on the street corner in front of the building.
“We condemn the violence and we stand behind Israel’s right to defend its citizens, as an organization and as individuals. We know violence only makes more violence. This is why we are here.”
The demonstration “highlights and amplifies J Street’s message that the only answer is a two-state solution in the Middle East,” said Schlossberg.
Joining her in presenting 800 signed postcards to representatives of the two senators was Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Montclair.
“We cannot let terrorists set the agenda. Peace matters before and after terrorist attacks,” said Tepperman, referring to the eight Israelis killed in terrorist attacks near the southern resort town of Eilat last week. Israel pursued the attackers into the Sinai Desert and launched a series of missile strikes aimed at terrorist leaders in Gaza. “It is in the best interest of a free and democratic Israel to have a peaceful solution. We can’t wait for a moment where there is not a terrorist attack or a perfect partner.”
Other demonstrators told NJ Jewish News they supported peace negotiations despite the terrorist killings.
“The new attacks make it more important. It shows the need to encourage the Palestinians to resolve this in a peaceful way,” said Larry Lerner of Warren, a J Street activist and immediate past president of Meretz USA. “It has been problematic for 50 years, but it has got to be done.”
Marty Levine of Maplewood also pressed for a two-state solution — and suggested Israel could do more to return to the negotiating table.
“The misimpression is given that the Jewish community is for anything Israel wants to do, whether that is in the interest of peace or not,” he said. “The majority of American Jews and Israeli Jews do not feel that way.”
“I am a long-time lover of Israel who is not happy with the way things are going,” said Alicia Ostriker of Princeton. “I want to see two states happen before it is too late.”
Neither senator’s press representative responded to e-mail requests for comment on the J Street demonstration.