At last year’s J Street Conference, about which I wrote some dispatches for Tablet, we were in the thick of an election year. Israel would soon be a wedge issue and nary an official from the Obama administration nor a current Israeli politician graced the conference with his or her presence. The best the liberal organization managed was Valerie Jarrett and Anthony Blinken, advisers respectively to President Obama and Joe Biden.
The conference message (or implication perhaps) was that the focus on Iran’s nuclear program had blinkered Americans, Israelis, and Jews from accepting the need to pursue a two-state solution. Nearly 18 months later, the wedging of Israel failed to produce change in the 2012 elections, continued pressure on Iran seems to have produced (at least some) results, and the Israelis and Palestinians are doing (at least some) negotiating. And for the first time, both Israeli politicians and American administration officials will be appearing at the J Street Conference later this month. Today, it was announced that the Enchilada himself, Joseph “Hot Sauce” Biden, will be delivering the keynote.
Also speaking at the Sept. 28-Oct. 1 conference of the liberal pro-Israel group will be Martin Indyk, the chief U.S. Middle East peace negotiator, according to a copy of the schedule posted online Tuesday.
The conference will feature speakers from across the Israeli political spectrum, including from the Shas, Likud, Labor, Hatnua and Yesh Atid parties — a signal of how J Street has overcome resistance to engagement in Israel’s political establishment.
We’ll have more on this from our esteemed columnist Lee Smith soon as well as some dispatches from the J Street Conference itself later this month.