To the Editor:
Last week, a delegation of 32 Stanford students attended the J Street National Conference. This gathering of over 3,000 people included over 1,000 students and a number of prominent Israeli, Palestinian and American speakers, including Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, US Special Middle East envoy Martin Indyk, multiple members of the Israeli Knesset and former Secretary of State James Baker. The conference made headlines around the country due to its timeliness around the Israeli elections and negotiations with Iran, and due to the variety of speakers and viewpoints on display.
We are therefore concerned by yesterday’s Daily article, “J Street U Stanford conflicts with national J Street organization.” Rather than reporting the strategic actions or substantive discourse among students at the conference, the author chose to frame the article around J Street U’s divestment politics, which are entirely tangential to our organizational goals. Furthermore, this dramatic headline mischaracterizes J Street U Stanford, a committed part of the J Street movement. Nationwide, members of J Street U come from different places and perspectives, but ultimately work together for a fair and equitable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We are frustrated that the article demonstrated a larger inability to separate any issue related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from divestment, which is a single tactic. We are opposed to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for ethical, political and pragmatic reasons. However, we do not exist as an organization to oppose BDS, and choosing to focus on J Street’s position on BDS misses the point of the conference and our organizational mission: taking pragmatic political action toward a two-state solution.
We believe that this conference has been a positive experience for the Stanford community, by exposing a delegation of students to a wide and challenging array of perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as providing opportunities for action. We hope that future discussion and coverage of this issue will be critical, informative and productive.
Eric Ballouz ‘17, Sarah Beller ‘15, Julia Daniel ‘17 and Rachael Stryer ‘17
Co-Chairs, J Street U Stanford
Contact the authors of this letter at jdaniel7 ‘at’ stanford.edu.