Imagine this scenario: The United States and one of its closest allies heartily agree on a certain policy goal important to both countries. The secretary of state addresses American supporters of that ally and urges them to prod their leaders to move along the process. The Americans applaud the speech.
And then, near silence.
Ever since Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the American Jewish Committee on June 3 and implored his listeners to “help shape the future” for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, only a very few Jewish groups have added their voices to Kerry’s caucus. J Street. The Union for Reform Judaism. Ameinu. Israel Policy Forum.
So did the head of a coalition of more than three dozen Israeli lawmakers from left-wing and centrist parties, including some in the governing coalition. The caucus “stands ready as your willing and able partner in our shared mission to get to Two States for Two Peoples,” Hilik Bar, deputy speaker of the Knesset, wrote to Kerry.
But from the long list of American advocacy groups who call themselves pro-Israel, there has been an uncharacteristic reticence to respond to Kerry’s impassioned plea. It’s as if the endless supply of press releases has suddenly run dry. Why?
Our colleague J.J. Goldberg postulated that Kerry was actually bypassing the pro-Israel establishment that has often tried to frustrate the Obama administration’s efforts and instead directly address American Jews, reminding them that they, too, have something to lose if a two-state solution grows even harder to secure.
Perhaps that is why the self-appointed leaders are uncharacteristically quiet. They know that Kerry is right, and that their public is largely behind him. It’s time they got behind him, too.
This article appeared as an editorial in the Forward and was updated on June 17 to reflect IPF and Ameinu’s support of John Kerry’s address before this editorial was published.