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Leaning Right and Leaning Left: Jewish Bifurcation on How to Best Support Israel

I’m a card carrying member of AIPAC because no one mobilizes the support of Congress and the Administration in support of Israel like AIPAC does. I believe Israel needs to have friends on both sides of the political aisle, and AIPAC does just that. I will always be a supporter of AIPAC for just that reason.

But in my bifurcated Jewish existence, simultaneously, I am a supporter of Rabbis for Human Rights and other pro-Israel left leaning groups, because I worry that sometimes (often?) AIPAC leans too far to the right. I want a strong Israel, but I want an Israel that is encouraged and supported as it continually seeks out partners in conversation about peace. Sometimes, I worry as to whether some organizations can really do that.

So I was encouraged to read in the Jewish Forward that “Dovish Groups Mull Mega-Merger In Bid To Build Peace Powerhouse.” It seems that leaders of Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, three leading dovish Israel advocacy groups, are in discussions that proponents hope will produce a new mega-organization with greater political clout and more money to push for a two-state solution. This too is good.

Why? According to the Forward, the issue of serving as a dovish balance to Aipac is discussed frequently. One activist involved in the initiative spoke of the need to send Congress a message that “there are other voices in the community” and that lawmakers “don’t have to automatically support unnecessary resolutions” about Israel. Another activist said that many in the Jewish community “are dying” to present an alternative to Aipac on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. At the same time, all those involved stressed their strong appreciation for Aipac’s role in supporting and strengthening Israel. They made clear that the new group — if and when created — would not aim to challenge or replace Aipac as the leading pro-Israel lobby.

Many will decry the prospects of splitting a clear voice and hard line on Israel. Always a proponent for diversity, I welcome this bifurcation. Let a multiplicity of good voices be heard; let dissent be considered seriously. Eilu v’eilu divray Elohim chayim – both this and that are the words of the Living God!

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