On July 24th, the New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) hosted the first virtual event in our “On the Agenda” discussion series. The event, “Divided We Stand: Allies Debate the Two-State Solution,” featured Peter Beinart, T’ruah Executive Director Rabbi Jill Jacobs, and J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, in a discussion moderated by NYJA co-founder Rabbi Rachel Timoner. The discussion was recorded and can be watched here.
Several weeks ago, Peter Beinart caused a stir in the American Jewish community with his provocative essay in Jewish Currents, and his New York Times op-ed. Beinart’s contention that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer attainable has challenged the conventional wisdom among progressive Jews and ignited a vigorous debate about the viability of a binational state of Israel-Palestine as an alternate path forward. NYJA was determined to host a good-faith debate among allies, cut through the noise, and give New York Jews an opportunity to participate in intellectual debate.
Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, both prolific Jewish thought leaders, offered a progressive defense of the two-state solution. With over 1,000 attendees, our panelists engaged in a thoughtful and civil debate on Israel, Zionism, and the prospect of peace, steering clear of the acrimony that currently pervades our discourse. We hope to continue hosting cutting-edge conversations about issues that are of critical interest to New York Jews and giving a platform to the entire spectrum of voices in our broad coalition.
For more, read Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ essential delineation of when criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic in the Washington Post and Jeremy Ben-Ami’s call for continued diaspora engagement in the fight for Israel’s future in The New Republic to. (You can also find my own response to Beinart’s essay here, from The Jewish Week/Times of Israel).
Matt Nosanchuk is co-founder and President of the New York Jewish Agenda.