In response to Stephen Flatow’s “J Street cheers a terror backer” (March 9), I was one of the attendees at the recent J Street national conference who applauded MK Ayman Odeh. We applauded Odeh for statements such as “We must work together toward our shared interests which are not bound by our religions, our ethnicities, or our nationalities.” We applauded his support for the rights of Ethiopian Jews and for more Israeli government aid to Holocaust survivors.
Support for terrorism is never acceptable. J Street has gone on record condemning terror and incitement time and again. Indeed, we have numerous disagreements with Odeh and other Palestinian leaders, but we must not use this as a pretext to refuse to talk to or to listen to those who sometimes express opinions we don’t like. If we only talk to people with whom we agree, there will be no hope of persuasion or of finding common ground.
Members of the Knesset do business with Odeh. Why shouldn’t supporters of Israel in the United States? He is an important figure in Israeli and Palestinian politics. Anyone interested in having a positive impact in the region would waste a major opportunity by refusing to deal with him.
Martin J. Levine
Communications chair, Northern New Jersey chapter of J Street