Bizarre view of organizational responsibilities

Statement on Kathleen Peratis’ visit to Gaza

 by Lloyd Cotler

J Street strongly regrets the recent meetings by its Board member Kathleen Peratis with members of Hamas and the articles that she has written about her visit to Gaza.

J Street’s policy clearly states our belief that “Hamas’ consistent opposition to the peace process, its support for terror against Israeli civilians, its use of violence for political purposes, and its denial of the Holocaust are reprehensible.”

In our view, J Street leaders – directors and staff – should not meet with Hamas.

J Street supports the policy of the U.S. government not to meet with Hamas until it renounces the use of violence and terror, accepts Israel’s right to exist and agrees to abide by agreements made between Israel and the PLO.

Ms. Peratis was advised prior to her trip of J Street’s view that its leaders should not meet with Hamas[1]. We deeply regret that she chose to meet with Hamas representatives anyway.

She did not represent J Street in the meetings she did have, and her writings do not in any way reflect the views of J Street.

There should be no misunderstanding about J Street’s positions, which put the security and safety of Israel front and center. To that end, we promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to secure Israel’s future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.

Footnote

by Lloyd Cotler

Ms. Peratis was specifically sent the following in an informal email by J Street’s President in advance of her trip:

“As we’ve discussed before, I think it is in J Street’s best interests that our officials (staff, board members) not meet with Hamas officials – and even more essential that if such meetings do take place there be no implication of representing J Street.  I would ask that you not mention your J Street role in the meetings that you have that include Hamas officials.

If J Street does come up (which I hope it won’t), I hope – and am sure – that you will make clear that you are not representing J Street in such meetings. If any media happen to inquire about this trip or meeting, I would ask that you make it absolutely clear that it is J Street policy not to meet with Hamas and that you are there as an individual not representing J Street as an organization.”

Isn’t the right response, rather, to say, “we are asking her to resign from the Board because her actions do not reflect the values of J-Street”?

An even more mature and confidence-building gesture would be a brief comment on how an individual’s desperation for a peaceful resolution to this conflict can result in misguided outreach to violent actors, and how such a failure in judgment is one of the things J-Street is working against, as it works against misguided Israeli policies.

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