The New Year is a time of renewal, joy, and, above all, hope for the future, and this year is indeed a time of hope. Twenty long years ago, the world watched as two bitter enemies, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, found a way to look beyond years of recriminations and hatred on all sides to create an opportunity to achieve lasting peace. While that ultimate goal has remained elusive, Oslo did prove a critical fact. As Robert Lifton, a former president of the American Jewish Congress, recently wrote, “the Oslo process told the Arab world, and the rest of the world’s nations, that Israel and the Palestinians were capable of making a deal.” A deal today will not be easy, nor will it achieve all our goals. But a deal is possible, with our help.
Secretary of State Kerry has challenged American Jews to join a “great constituency for peace.” I urge you to become part of this constituency. No one has a stronger voice at this critical moment than the American Jewish community. And as President Obama said in Jerusalem, leaders will take bold steps only if their people push them to. But you must act. To remain silent is itself a message; if there was talk of imminent war, would you speak about it? How is peace somehow less urgent? Let your leaders and your neighbors alike know that you understand this will be a tough process with tough decisions, but that you’re ready to back the leaders who make them.
You can help shape the future. There are many organizations that support Israel and many opportunities for you to be involved. While our tactics and strategies may differ, we all share the same goal: Israel as a Jewish homeland, standing with secure borders as a beacon of democracy in part of the world where democracy is sadly, tragically lacking.
Let our leaders and community know that you stand behind negotiations that will lead to two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security, and that you are part of the great constituency for peace.