Beinart spoke briefly and effectively, emphasizing the vital Jewish interest in forging a viable two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. He began: “We come here not because we take lightly the murder of Israeli Jews, our brothers and sisters in Israel. Quite the opposite.” Then he referred to Tisha B'Av, when Jews traditionally recall the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and the end of Israelite/Jewish independence both times--remembering also that “ethical collapse preceded physical collapse."
In referring to Pres. Obama, Beinart mentioned that he is, at bottom, a self-interested politician, and that he cannot want a peaceful solution for Israel more than we do as Jews. So it's up to us to press this issue and this goal with our governmental representatives and leaders.
|With Rangel staffer: Gil's at right (photo by Laura Mahalel)|
We then proceeded, under police escort, with our banners and in our J Street/two-states tee-shirts to present thousands of postcards with the two-state solution message to aides of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand at their respective New York offices nearby. After this, some of us formed delegations that went to the offices of US Representatives Rangel, Nadler and Maloney.
I went with Gil Kulick (a retired US diplomat who is a leading activist in the New York City local of J Street) to our Congressman's office, that of Charles Rangel in Harlem. This is Gil's report:
The meeting with Congressman Rangel's office took place in the plaza in front of the Federal Office Building in Harlem, which had been evacuated because of the East Coast earthquake, which fortunately nobody felt. The seven-person J Street delegation comprised Gil Kulick, Adi Mahalel, Laura Mahalel, Ralph Seliger, Amy Fass, Abram Epstein, and Liora Amira. We met with Rangel's aide Jeff Margolies, a long-time acquaintance of mine from Brit Tzedek days, who we ran into in the crowd in the plaza.
I explained what the two-state summer campaign was about and our strongly-felt need for members of Congress and the public to recognize that there is very significant, widespread support for President Obama's efforts and policies in the U.S. Jewish community. Hence, the 40,000 post cards we've collected nationwide and the observance of the Day of Action in 37 communities, spanning almost 100 Congressional districts across the U.S.
Accompanied by a very talented, high-volume Motown singer entertaining the evacuees in the background, each member of the delegation introduced her/himself and added a short personal statement. Adi and I presented the post cards to Jeff, Laura took pictures, Jeff said he would convey the cards and our message to Congressman Rangel, and a good time was had by all. --Gil
|Liora and I flank Jeff Margolies (photo by Laura)|
Unfortunately, but also amusingly, some onlookers wondered what two states we were referring to. Looking at our placards and tee-shirts calling for "two states," one bystander asked why we'd want to divide New York into two states.
|Adi (left) with Gil; Amy is behind Adi (photo by Laura)|