President Obama’s Jerusalem speech has effectively re-invigorated the hope of movement toward the peace process by speaking directly to Israelis and saying that peace is necessary, just, and possible. As one Israeli student who was present at the Jerusalem Convention Center said in The New York Times, “I call on my leaders to use this window of opportunity that is filled with renewed hope in the light of this inspiring speech.” The president urged Israelis to seize control of their destiny by negotiating with their Palestinian partners as he challenged the audience to “…create the change you want to see.”
There can no longer be any doubt about the president’s understanding of the Israeli psyche. He has demonstrated, eloquently, that he has internalized the Israeli narrative. He “gets it.” He “gets” Israel’s right to self-determination in a land of its own. He affirmed that Israel is not going anywhere and made it clear that rejectionists in the region must be sidelined. Finally, he proclaimed that while grave challenges threaten Israel’s survival, the United States will stand with Israel as it considers the painful but necessary compromises it must make in order to achieve peace. And make peace it surely must if it wants to remain a Jewish and democratic nation. This can only be achieved by an agreement which grants the Palestinians self-determination in a homeland of their own as well.
Now the real work must begin. A two-state solution will require bold and sustained U.S. leadership. We must seize this opening by showing our elected representatives that we strongly support and expect engagement to help the Israelis and Palestinians resolve the conflict.
Cochair, J Street Central Jersey