CA role in Mideast peace

J The Jewish News of Northern California
Susan George

Those who follow California progressive politics have seen significant polarization around the Israel-Arab conflict. The state’s Democrats have spent more time on Israel and Palestine in certain committees of the California Democratic Party (CDP) than on any other issue. Progressive Zionists of California has worked hard for a narrative that includes Jews and Palestinians in the CDP body politic. We’ve had successes, but we know there is much work ahead of us at the virtual convention on April 29–May 2 and beyond.

It’s perhaps not hyperbolic to say the situation is much bleaker between Israelis and Palestinians in the region. Distressingly, an October 2018 PULSE poll found that 90 percent of Palestinians did not trust Israeli Jews, and 79 percent of Israeli Jews did not trust Palestinians. The kids are not all right — and neither are their parents.

Hope is nonetheless present. Several international organizations have come together to advocate for the International Fund for Peace. Based on the International Fund for Ireland and Nita M. Lowey’s 2020 Middle East Partnership for Peace Act,  we are advocating for the CDP to support the vision of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace at the 2021 convention. Lowey’s law brought Democrats and Republicans together, and the International Fund brings Israelis, Palestinians, the U.S., the UK and others together. This can be a model for overcoming our differences and finding a better way forward.

Reducing polarization and coming together doesn’t mean we gloss over our real disagreements or empower clearly harmful ideologies. It does, however, mean we build relationships and let ourselves be changed by the interactions. We won’t be the brokers of peace in the California Democratic Party,  but we can encourage peace-building initiatives that honor both Israelis and Palestinians — that promote genuine coexistence and don’t replicate the broken strategies of the past.

Peace comes piece by piece — let’s build the bricks, one at a time. Build it with us!

Susan George
Executive director, Progressive Zionists of California

Read the rest of the letters HERE.