BANGOR, Maine — With an energy and vigor belying her 70 years, Israeli activist Yael Dayan on Wednesday night called upon the United States to support a peaceful resolution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“If you are pro-Israel, you are pro-peace. This is what we are about,” she said, “because what else can there be?” Dayan told her audience of more than 100 people at Congregation Beth Israel on York Street.
Chairwoman of the Tel Aviv City Council and daughter of the late Israeli Gen. Moshe Dayan, Dayan is a proponent of the “two-state solution,” the approach now under consideration by key players in the conflict.
The two-state solution would pave the way for co-existence of two separate states in the western part of the historic region of Palestine. Israel would remain a Jewish state and another state would be formed for the region’s Arab inhabitants.
Dayan told the story of Israel, established in 1948, through the lens of five generations of her family — her grandparents, who help found the fledgling nation; her parents, whose generation defended it; her own generation, which is working to develop its infrastructure; and her children and grandchildren, who are its future.
It would mean ending military occupation and evacuating settlements, Dayan acknowledged in a question-and-answer session after her more than hourlong address, sponsored by J Street Eastern Maine, the local chapter of the nonprofit J Street, based in Washington, D.C.
“We believe in the right of self-determination of peoples,” she said.
Established in 2008, J Street describes itself as the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. It has its own political action committee, which raises money for candidates who support its positions and an arm devoted to education on the issue.
With the U.S. in the midst of brokering yet another round of peace talks, Dayan said the issue is an urgent one given the traction that President Barack Obama’s support could bring to a peaceful end to the conflict.
Asked about one of the most recent developments — Israel’s approval of 1,300 more homes on Palestinian-claimed lands in east Jerusalem — Dayan said the move has drawn criticism from those seeking peace, including mainstream Jews, the United States and the United Nation.
She attributed the action to “a group of extremists who ignore the law and are ignoring Supreme Court decisions.”
Israel cannot expect the United States and other democracies in the world to support Israel in its role as occupying forces in that case, she said. “Why should they?”
She said though it “will be hard to look at,” those settlers must be removed. “It will be very tragic but must be done” if the peace talks are to move forward.