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Much is being written and said about Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic initiative with Israel and the Palestinians. Here are two of my  strong recommendations that help to clarify the complexities involved beyond the headlines.

[1] To Read – “It’s not about Kerry. It’s about us” (Times of Israel) by Rabbi Donniel Hartman.

Rabbi Donniel Hartman is a modern Orthodox Rabbi, educator and writer, and serves as President of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is among the most intelligent and thoughtful of our people’s contemporary leaders.

In a wake-up call to Israelis, Rabbi Donniel Hartman says, “I have skin in the game… It’s not about Kerry; it’s about us: who we are and who we want to be. We need to reclaim this conversation and reposition it at the center of our national discourse, motivating and guiding our political policies.” http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/its-not-about-kerry-its-about-us/

[2] To Watch/Hear – Jeremy Ben Ami debates with Rabbi Daniel Gordis at Temple Sinai, Atlanta – an in-depth conversation from two articulate leaders on the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America’s engagement in negotiations.

Jeremy Ben Ami is the President and Founder of J Street, a pro-Israel pro-peace political and education organization in Washington, D.C., that has grown in 5 years to become the largest Jewish PAC in America. J Street is credited with having changed the American Jewish conversation about the meaning of pro-Israel support in the nation’s capital and has not only growing numbers of Jews and non-Jews as members, but increasing influence among members of Congress and in the Administration.

Rabbi Daniel Gordis, PhD, is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem, is a regular columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, in print and on-line.

Though Jeremy and Danny share some common goals, they differ fundamentally about whether there is, indeed, a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They discuss the appropriate role of the American Jewish community vis a vis the American and Israeli governments, how to best engage our college students, how to interact or not interact with the BDS movement, what they consider the existential threats facing the state of Israel, and their understanding of the Israeli and Palestinian logjams on the way to an eventual peace agreement.

Their conversation is intelligent, respectful and civil.  You can skip the first 25 minutes and begin with Jeremy’s initial statement followed by Danny’s, and then listen to the back and forth for the remainder of the 90-minute conversation.