During the concluding session of the JFNA GA, Jerry Silverman, the president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, commented that there were over 4,000 tweets from the GA from the entire Jewish body in attendance, including 600 Hillel students.
Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition party then spoke about her views on the State of Israel. She talked about the need to confront the new threat of the delegitimization of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. She made a poignant claim after citing Joe Biden's statement that one does not have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. Livni then added, "Every Jew needs to be a Zionist."
She then addressed the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She emphasized the importance of Israel living in peace with its neighbors and of adding substance to the words, "Jewish democratic state," by giving everyone the same rights, including Arab minorities. It was at this point that I began to recognize the amount of applause decreasing. The Arab minority in Israel can be a touchy subject, as evidenced by the older gentleman who began yelling about Jews returning to the Temple during Livni's speech. The man was dragged from the room, still shouting.
While my applause became more enthusiastic, along with a few other people in the room, the overall level of applause went down when Livni said that a president who supports two states is not anti-Israel, but he supports the same views as her that two states are needed in order to guarantee peace. She presented the analogy of David and Goliath representing Israel and Palestine, respectively, before claiming that many people see it as the opposite, which is a problem. She concluded by telling the audience, "Together we should write the next chapter of Jewish history." I, for one, would love to join her in the fight to legitimize Israel by forging a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, while still keeping Israel a secure Jewish democratic state.
Samantha Tropper is a student at Duke University.