It’s been a tough week in our favorite region… it’s not an easy day to be at a cocktail party in Manhattan talking about solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  I want to acknowledge the moment that we’re in; it’s hard to have hope. The very real sense that the conditions for peace are so far beyond our reach drives so many to accept the status quo and to disengage from trying to make a difference.

I know as the chair of our Young Leadership and one of the younger members of our board, I’m supposed to be the face of optimism – but in the spirit of our value of forthrightness, I want to say that even in times when we can’t make a difference for the better, we can make a difference for the worse.  There is no status quo in this conflict: accepting the way things are because it feels like it’s not in our control to improve them, doesn’t mean that things stay the same – it contributes to a continued downward spiral and a narrowing of the window of opportunity.   

It’s a lot more satisfying to work on this issue when we feel it’s in our grasp to make it to the finish line – when we can talk about treaties, and handshakes, and coexistence, when we can experience the instant gratification of momentum and progress.  And it takes a lot more grit and stamina to stay in this work when it is really just about not letting things get worse. There’s very little glory in that. That’s the moment we’re in. 

I’ve used my professional skills to lead several consulting processes with my fellow board members, and it’s probably a good thing they didn’t charge me with tackling our branding. If they had, I might have suggested IPF change its tagline from “For a Jewish, Democratic, Secure Israel” to “Let’s just not make things worse!

Generations before us have done the unimaginable. They have worked toward a dream through many moments where the establishment of a Jewish state surely felt even more elusive to them than peace does to us today.  Their perseverance brought us the miracle that is Israel. So let me share with you what keeps me up at night. It’s the possibility that we can be the generation that closes the door on the only viable path to the full realization of this dream – the dream of a secure, Jewish and democratic state, one that all Jews can be proud to call home. This work of keeping the door open for the two-state solution – of not letting it close, of opposing the forces that are diminishing the prospects for peace – doesn’t always feel satisfying. It can feel like a slug.  It’s often thankless, but I am thankful that Israel Policy Forum and so many people in this room are committed to it. We are making a difference. This is the vital work we all need to double down on: keeping the door open, so that when the time comes – whether it is us or our children – we can walk through it. Thank you.