If the Obama administration really wants to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the president--and his secretary of state--should remember what I learned in the 1980s from the Israeli dove, army officer and historian Meir Pa'il: the best Jewish thinking on Middle Eastern peace issues is often found farthest from New York City.
By that, Pa'il meant that the national Jewish organizations headquartered in New York City were a dead weight on peacemaking efforts. As much as he liked New York City (because it felt Middle Eastern, he told me) he found Jews far from New York far more receptive to his advocacy of a two-state solution for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
For a while, I thought the two-state solution was gaining ground. Today, it is a fading possibility--even though it remains the best chance for peace between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
Yet I still think Pa'il's point holds. If Hillary Clinton wants to become the secretary of state who delivers peace in Israel and Palestine, she should avoid the kind of mainstream Jewish organizations who have nothing to say. Instead, she should embrace the people in organizations like Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek. For decades, they have recognized what needs to be done: a two-state solution, sooner and not later.