Read R & E's e-interview with Matthew E. Berger, staff writer in the Washington bureau of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), about American Jewish groups and the road map to Middle East peace:
Q: Could you map out a description of the divides among American Jews -- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secular -- in their attitudes toward President Bush's road map to peace in the Middle East?
A: The Jewish community is split in its support of the road map and American engagement in the Middle East, and while it is not totally driven by divisions within the different denominations of the religion, there are some significant differences.
The Reform community and many of the more liberal social-action Jewish groups strongly back the road map. They believe that President Bush should have been more engaged in the process from his first days in office and feel that Israel should make concessions for peace. They also believe predominantly in an end to settlement development in the West Bank and Gaza and are concerned about the hardships of the Palestinian people.
The more conservative groups, including the Orthodox community, take a more nuanced view. Many of them outwardly support American engagement and the road map for Middle East peace, but -- and this is a significant "but" -- they believe that the process should only begin after a complete cessation of violence from the Palestinians. These groups are more concerned about the international partners participating in the road map process [Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations] and largely do not support a settlement freeze. These groups include the biggest player in Israeli advocacy, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Some other groups, which are more hawkish, do not believe there should be any negotiations with the Palestinians and have led campaigns to undermine the new Palestinian prime minister.
Q: What do you make of the strengthening alliance between conservative evangelical Christians and some Jews, especially the recent letter to President Bush from conservative Christian leaders criticizing the road map?