To American friends about our elections and yours

The Israeli election results have left me gutted.

The return of Netanyahu. The election of over a dozen far-right extremists. Potential ministerial posts for politicians who’ve spoken of expelling Arab citizens, opening fire on Palestinians and banning pride parades. It’s frightening. It’s disturbing.

In this moment, some may be tempted to give up. To write off Israeli politics and give up hope for a better future. But giving up is not an option because despair is not a strategy.

Not for me and my family. Not for millions of Israelis and Palestinians who have nowhere else to go. And not for the millions of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans who care so deeply about the need for Israel to survive and flourish as a liberal democracy and a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

American Jews know this first hand because, this coming week, American elections will tell us whether similar forces gain further footholds of power in the US. You know this because the American pro-democracy, pro-justice, pro-peace camp won’t give up, no matter the results on November 8.

Speaking as an Israeli, nothing could be more important to us — your allies who share your values here — than to hear a strong voice of partnership and support from the American Jewish community.

Unfortunately, for years, the loudest voices we have heard from America have instead done everything they could to excuse and empower Israeli politics’ dangerous drift toward the right. That’s why we Israeli progressives are so appreciative of the existence and the work of J Street.

We know how important it is to have a powerful, principled, pro-Israel, pro-peace organization representing the majority of American Jews who want both the US and Israel to be grounded in strong democratic values and who are in the arena, ready to counter the far-right.

Together, we must turn frustration into action. American Jews who care deeply about Israel and reject the incoming Israeli government’s right-wing agenda must make your voices heard: In the White House, in Congress, and in communities across America.

You have to make clear that Itamar Ben-Gvir and those who incite terror and preach racism are not welcome in our communities and that they are undermining the foundations of the US-Israel relationship. You have to ensure that the United States is unwavering in its opposition to racism, incitement, settlement expansion and outright annexation.

The progressive camp in Israel will fight alongside you because we know that the threats we face are the same you face in your politics and that are rising across the world.

Only by building the broadest, strongest pro-democracy camp will we win.

The change we seek will not happen on its own. It will not happen overnight. We can count on right-wing groups to fight tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t. But change is within our reach if we work for it together.

 As our most important partner, the United States has incredible power. Your voice in making clear that the right-wing vision of settlements, annexation and discrimination is not acceptable. To strengthen Israel’s peace movement. To champion the fight against racism and prejudice.

We Israelis pride ourselves on independence, but we also care about our place in the community of nations and our relationship with Jewish and non-Jewish friends and family around the world.

Please do not stay silent. Please continue to give voice to your values. Please stay in this fight.

Thank you, sincerely, for your support.

About the Author
Nadav Tamir is the executive director of J Street Israel, a member of the board of the Mitvim think-tank, adviser for international affairs at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and member of the steering committee of the Geneva Initiative. He was an adviser of President Shimon Peres and served in the Israel embassy in Washington and as consul general to New England.
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