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J Street Pushes ‘Linkage’

And struggles to find co-signers

Marc Tracy
May 10, 2010
Gen. David Petraeus last month.(Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)
Gen. David Petraeus last month.(Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

J Street is circulating a letter on Capitol Hill that tells President Barack Obama that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is crucial to furthering U.S. national security interests—in Iraq and Afghanistan, against Iran, and elsewhere in the region. This is the doctrine of “linkage,” most visibly advanced by Gen. David Petraeus, seconded by prominent administration adviser Dennis Ross, and seemingly echoed by Obama himself. It’s also been lambasted by many critics (including Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith).

The letter spends much time citing Petraeus, in fact, before going on to argue:

A just and sustainable end to this conflict will not only secure Israel’s future as a democratic, Jewish homeland—it will also enhance our ability to confront the threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other actors in the Middle East, and advance critical U.S. security interests in the region more broadly.

Four (not particularly prominent) Democratic congressmen have signed the letter. Last Thursday, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, frankly acknowledged that garnering more signatures would be a challenge … though he also said the challenge would be overcome. “One by one, 10 by 10, dozen by dozen, members of Congress are going to sign that letter.”

When you predict something like that, of course, it’s generally best if you’re proven right.

Update: The letter also cites Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who makes the case that resolving the conflict is crucial to Israel’s own security. Also, more than just the four sponsors have signed the letter; a full list of signatories has not yet been made available.

Related: Linked In [Tablet Magazine]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.