The achievement of the two-state solution has, for a long time, been a question of when and not if. We have raised a generation of the Jewish people on the idea that the two-state solution is the only resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ensures justice and security for all peoples. For our community here in Boston, the two-state solution continues to be our aspiration and the focus of our dreams about Israel’s future. And yet right now, the reality of the two-state solution seems both daunting and distant. Some have even argued that we are past the point of no return; the two-state solution is already in the rear view mirror. This is a grave mistake. We are under no illusion that achieving a two-state agreement is an easy task, or one likely to be achieved in the short-term. However, we have no doubt that there are actions that we can take to advance our vision and hopes of a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Every observer has their own arguments and rationale for why a lasting peace appears to be distant. We have argued that the only path to a lasting peace is through direct negotiation, and we are wary of unilateral moves that seek to define the end conditions of negotiations. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have done this in at one point or another, and in the current situation direct negotiations appear unlikely in the near future.
We follow, with interest and anticipation, the efforts by the current US administration to lead a breakthrough for Israeli and Palestinian peace, one that will create a better outlook for Israelis and Palestinians. Certainly, if such a breakthrough comes we will celebrate it and support the government’s efforts. But we cannot place our hopes in the efforts of the American government. Rather, we find our hope elsewhere, in the changes happening at the grassroots level between Israelis and Palestinians. We at JCRC seek to support Israelis and Palestinians who are organizing and creating opportunities for mutual recognition, economic cooperation, and civic engagement. We are supporting the emergence of a new generation of leaders, one that can challenge the existing paradigms and move Israelis and Palestinians into a brighter, more interdependent, and peaceful future.
We are launching two new initiatives to support these grassroots efforts. The Israel Collaborative convenes groups of young leaders to develop and implement innovate projects to support peacemaking NGOs. We ran a successful pilot this summer, and will be launching a second round of the program over the next two weeks. We are also developing a new initiative in partnership with CJP called Boston Partners for Peace. This program will highlight the work of impactful NGOs in this field and provide the Boston community with concrete ways to support their efforts. The program is currently being tested with focus groups, with a launch scheduled for later this winter.
John F. Kennedy, when facing the seemingly impossible task, famously said: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” For many of us today, helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peaceful end to their conflict feels as impossible as going to the moon did to President Kennedy. We accept this challenge because it is hard, and because it will take the best of us to make our vision a reality. Will you join us in this work?