What’s missing from J Street’s ’2 Campaign’

One of the biggest announcements at this year’s J Street conference, which is ending today, was the launch of the “2 Campaign,” a $1 million initiative to educate and advocate for the two-state solution.

The campaign launch comes with a snazzy website, complete with bold block graphics, responsive design and easy-to-digest paragraphs about the main issues at play in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.


The site’s first four sections – on borders, security, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem – give a boilerplate history and exposition of the respective Israeli and Palestinian positions on each issue, followed by a short paragraph suggesting a possible solution.

It all basically repeats what’s been the consensus solution for more than a decade. On borders, the proposed solution is land swaps. On security, it’s continued coordination between Israeli and Palestinian forces. On refugees, it’s a Palestinian right of return to a future Palestine or third countries, plus a symbolic absorption of some Palestinians into Israel. On Jerusalem, it’s an east-west partition of the city.

What’s strange about this site is that it’s more nonpartisan analysis than fierce advocacy. Besides a few lines in a petition at the bottom of the page, there’s almost no mention of the basic benefits J Street says peace will bring: demographic security for Israel’s Jewish minority and independence and full civil rights for Palestinians. There’s no mention at all of the Arab Peace Initiative, broader acceptance of Israel in the region or expanded economic cooperation.

Nor does the site propose particularly innovative solutions to break an impasse on what may be the negotiations’ most sensitive issues – refugees, the status of Jerusalem’s Old City and Israel’s request for a troop presence in the Jordan Valley.

A J Street press release says that the campaign’s goal is to “mobilize support behind a two-state solution which will demand tough compromises but promises tremendous payoffs for both parties, the region and the world.” But the site doesn’t really expand on what those payoffs would be, and doesn’t provide a new way forward to reach previously unattainable compromises.

Ben Sales is JTA’s Israel correspondent. He reports on Israeli politics, culture, society and economics, in addition to covering Palestinian and regional affairs. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the Columbia University Journalism School, he is the former editor-in-chief of New Voices, the national Jewish student magazine.