J Street Blog
Posted by: Hadar Susskind | June 17th, 2010 11:28 am
How is it that a body that has been marred by relative obscurity in recent years appears to have been the site of the vital conversation over the future of Israel as a Jewish, democratic home in all its rambunctious glory?
And how did it come that I, Vice President of Policy and Strategy at J Street and a veteran of the Israeli army, found myself chairing the Settlement Committee at the World Zionist Congress?
When J Street’s delegation of staffers and lay leaders landed in Israel just over a week ago to join the Congress, we hoped to add J Street’s voices to the chorus of over 400 delegates to the World Zionist Congress. What we experienced demonstrated the seriousness of the battle we have in front of us to finally freeze the settlements, end the occupation, and achieve a two-state solution.
We had hoped that the storied history of the Congress would be our guide. Founded in 1897 by its first President, Theodore Herzl, the Congress was where all the various Zionist streams would come to respectfully debate, converse, and argue over the future of the Zionist project, both before and after the founding of the State of Israel.
Originally asked to serve as Vice Chair of the Settlement Committee at the Congress, I was promoted to the role of Chair when the previous Chair of the Committee (who was part of Avigdor Lieberman’s party’s delegation) quit when confronted with a much broader range of views in the room than he and his allies on the right had expected. He took a number of his political associates with him.