Doyle’s appearance lauded
Our coverage of U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle’s appearance at the May 14 J Street program at the Jewish Community Center overshadowed the event for some members of the community, an occurrence we regret as Doyle’s address was important for a couple of reasons.
First, the congressman, who directly represents most of Jewish Pittsburgh, reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution — something this paper continues to back.
Second, the appearance by a centrist congressman at a J Street program shows — again — that J Street is a pro-Israel organization, despite the protests in some quarters that it is not.
As J Street itself says on its website:
“The organization gives political voice to mainstream American Jews and other supporters of Israel (emphasis ours) who, informed by their Jewish values, believe that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential to Israel’s survival as the national home of the Jewish people (emphasis ours) and as a vibrant democracy. J Street’s mission is two-fold: first, to advocate for urgent American diplomatic leadership to achieve a two-state solution and a broader regional, comprehensive peace and, second, to ensure a broad debate on Israel and the Middle East in national politics and the American Jewish community.”
Doyle didn’t deliver a peace-at-any-cost speech. As the congressman said, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must drop his demand for preconditions before resuming serious peace talks.
“I think now that the Netanyahu government has signaled a willingness to sit down and begin peace talks without preconditions,” Doyle said. “We should put the same pressure on Abbas and the Palestinians to do this without these preconditions, sit down and start the negotiations.”
It won’t be easy. There’s a lot of deep-seeded hatred on both sides, and that hatred will probably last for generations, but nothing at all will change unless both sides talk and prepare their people for a peace based on compromise.
As for J Street, Doyle did Monday what Israeli President Shimon Peres did at its national conference in Washington, D.C., this past March; he gave his stamp of approval to an organization that deserves it. To be sure, we have differences with J Street positions, just as we do with right-wing Zionist organizations. But liberal Zionism is as legitimate as conservative Zionism and no good can come to klal Yisrael by mudslinging.
In Israel, this is better understood. Liberal and conservative political parties debate each other in the public arena — intensely. Sometimes, they form coalition governments for the good of the country, as happened this month when the centrist Kadima party joined a coalition with right-wing Likud, which weakened the influence of the far right Yisrael Beitenu party and its leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The deal may be unwieldy — only time will tell — but the parties are pro-Israel just the same.
The situation should be the same here. No legitimate pro-Israel group should be attacked as anti-Israel merely because its views are different. Let’s have debate, not mudslinging — for the good of the community.