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J Street founder discusses being 'pro-Israel and pro-peace' in the 21st century

J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami (left) and Rabbi Jim Bennett (right) talked about being “pro-Israel and pro-peace” in the 21st century.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami (left) and Rabbi Jim Bennett (right) talked about being “pro-Israel and pro-peace” in the 21st century. ";s:

There is a divide in the fundamental beliefs among supporters of Israel regarding the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. For Jeremy Ben-Ami, pursuit of peace is something he considers critical to the security and survival of the State of Israel in the 21st century.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with the J Street president about his organization and his appearance this week at Congregation Shaare Emeth. Rabbi Jim Bennett also joined the conversation about being “pro-Israel and pro-peace.” 

Ben-Ami’s liberal peace advocacy organization favors a two-state peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ben-Ami saidJ Streetdiffers from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in its origins and goals. AIPAC is a pro-Israeli lobbying group that promotes policies of the state’s sitting government.

He noted that J Street was founded with the notion that “you can be supportive of the State of Israel but also critical of the policies of the government.”

 “To be pro-Israel and pro-peace is to say, ‘there needs to be two states for two peoples’ and that’s the way to secure Israel’s future,” he said. The motto of being “pro-Israel and pro-peace” has garnered criticism from the United States ambassador to Israel, David Freidman.

In regard to a one-state solution, Ben-Ami expressed his opposition to the notion. He said it “does not guarantee a national state for the Jewish people,” which is one of the organization’s principles.

Bennett said J Street’s ideals align with his congregation and the “vast majority of American Jews,” which is what motivated Ben-Ami’s invitation to discuss the matter at 7:30 p.m., March 21 at Congregation Shaare Emeth.

“The sad truth is that, unfortunately often, these kinds of ideological discussions that exist in the American Jewish community get lost in politics and ideology and [there is] an unwillingness of people to acknowledge that they do agree with this,” Bennet said.

Bennett added that his Jewish faith demands an aspiration of morality, justice and peace that “will ultimately undergird a peace agreement.”

Related Event:

What: Congregation Shaare Emeth Presents a Discussion with Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Jim Bennett
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road, St. Louis, MO 63141

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill andLaraHamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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