This Thursday, a pro-peace nonprofit called J Street
will kick off its national grassroots campaign by launching local chapters in Portland and dozens of other locations nationwide.
J Street differs
from longer-established pro-Israel organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
because it supports a two-state, peaceful solution in the Middle East, and because it's willing to criticize Israel. In opening new local chapters like the one in Portland, J Street hopes to provide a place where open-minded people can feel safe to discuss this difficult issue.
Spokeswoman Sandy Polishuk says J Street Portland aims to change the conventional definition of what it means to be “pro-Israel," which they consider to be outdated and even alienating—especially to young people.
“We're trying to change that conventional definition of pro-Israel and pro-peace,” Polishuk says. “For a while, it was not OK for people who didn't agree with the Israeli government to say that openly. We've been working on opening the conversation so people can say, ‘I can believe in the state of Israel, and I can support it, but I can also criticize it.'”
Under the auspices of J Street Education Fund Inc. and funded by thousands of individual donors, J Street Local aspires to engage both state representatives and politicians as well as members of the public in a dialogue that will inspire progressive legislative action for the implementation of a peaceful, two-state solution.
J Street Local is inviting Oregonians to join them at its kick-off party this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 pm at the Oregon Jewish Museum
at 1953 NW Kearney St.. Among the notable local political names on the host committee's list are U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (both D-Ore.), Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen, Democratic activist Steve Novick and Portland State University professor Patricia Schechter, whose husband is city Commissioner Nick Fish.
To learn more about the upcoming event or RSVP, visit J Street Local's website