(Editor’s note: This a revised version of the story that appeared in the printed version of the Chronicle.)
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle didn’t align himself himself with all of J Street ideals when he spoke at the Pittsburgh chapter’s most recent function Monday, but he made it clear that he strongly supported a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I’m convinced that there will never be a lasting peace until we have a two-state solution,” Doyle said.
The Swissvale Democrat spoke to about 60 people at the J Street program titled, “We are the Future of Pro-Israel.”
J Street, the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group formed in 2008, is an advocate of a two-state solution to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East. In addition to a two-state solution, J Street also believes that Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should be put under Palestinian Authority sovereignty, and that new Jewish construction should be halted in East Jerusalem.
During his speech Monday, Doyle addressed last week’s events in the Israeli government in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for early parliamentary elections, then canceled those plans; he soon announced that the moderate Kadima Party would join his government.
While Doyle said that a two-state solution would be the final step in promoting peace, he noted other steps needed to achieve it. These include promoting democracy, and changing government policies as well as peoples’ feelings.
“I think now that the Netanyahu government has signaled a willingness to sit down and begin peace talks without preconditions, we should put the same pressure on [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas and the Palestinians to do this without these preconditions, sit down and start the negotiations” Doyle said. “I’m sure the United States is ready to play a role as broker if invited to do so.”
Doyle also said that it is important to listen to positive statements that come from both sides and take people at their word; otherwise there wouldn’t be a negotiation process.
“We [the United States] can’t force countries to negotiate,” he said. “What we need to do is say we’re there to use our influence and our assistance to get these agreements forged.”
Also speaking at Monday’s program were Marshall Dayan, a local attorney and president of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee; Rabbi Sharon Henry, associate rabbi of Rodef Shalom Congregation; and Carnegie Mellon University doctoral student Seth Flaxman.
All three shared stories about their memories of Israel, citing the importance of making peace now.
“I’m desperately concerned, if we do not make peace, there will be no Israel in 60 years,” Dayan said during his speech.
“I thought it was very well put together,” said Ben Prise, a Tufts University student who came to watch the presentation. “The speakers beforehand came and really set the mood for what J Street is about and to hear Mike Doyle speak about his views and how he, to an extent, aligns with J Street was nice to hear.”
Prise joined J Street at Tufts, but was unfamiliar with the Pittsburgh chapter. He was glad to see a decent turnout for the event.
“It’s like David versus Goliath,” he said, “and J Street needs a support base.”
(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.)