WASHINGTON - The left-wing pro-Israel lobby J Street launched a campaign yesterday calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to treat J Street and other pro-peace movements as allies.
The Knesset is scheduled to debate on Wednesday whether J Street is sufficiently "committed" to Israel to be called a pro-Israel organization.
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, who arrived in Israel this week to participate in the debate, said in a letter that the petition launched by his group is aimed at convincing Netanyahu "that it's time to embrace our movement as an ally of Israel and to abandon efforts to push those who disagree with the government's policy out of the communal tent."
"I intend to tell the Knesset that I started J Street because of my family's deep, four-generation connection to Israel and because of the importance I place on there being a secure national home for the Jewish people that promotes the Jewish and democratic values on which I was raised," Ben-Ami wrote.
"I will talk about how we started J Street to send an unmistakable message that a huge constituency of Americans sees Israel's future hanging in the balance in the absence of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a matter of self-preservation - as well as justice," he added.
J Street is also offering all signatories of the petition an opportunity to write a personal letter to the prime minister about why they support J Street. Ben-Ami added that he asked to meet with Netanyahu during his stay in Israel, "to introduce ourselves and explain how we can work together as allies," but was rejected.
"Yet, as you may have read, while the prime minister doesn't have time to meet a movement that now represents over 170,000 pro-Israel, pro-peace supporters, he has time to host Sarah Palin for dinner Monday night," Ben-Ami wrote.
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