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Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace: The J Street Balancing Act

On the alphabetically named streets of Washington

On the alphabetically named streets of Washington, DC, there is no J Street; the naming jumps from I to K. Legend has it that this is the result of a personal spat the architect of the city, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, had with someone whose name started with J. However, for the past two years, the presence of a J Street on Capitol Hill has been shaking up the landscape many had written off as fixed. A political action group, named J Street, has been working to redress a balance in the nation’s capital: the lack of a pro-peace and pro-Israel lobbying voice.

In the hotly contested debates surrounding the role of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “those with the loudest voices and deepest passion seem to gravitate to the extremes and those of us with more nuanced arguments get drowned out,” wrote Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J-Street, in a blog post celebrating its two-year anniversary.

Also See: J Street, Lobby of the “Silent Majority”

J Street is working to redress this, as an “organization [that] gives political voice to mainstream American Jews and other supporters of Israel who 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 and as a vibrant democracy,” according to its web site.

Founded in April 2008, J Street’s mission is two-fold: firstly, it advocates for urgent American diplomatic leadership to achieve a two-state solution; and, secondly, it works ensure a broad debate on Israel and the Middle East in national politics and the American Jewish community.

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