Jay Street Conference in DC

This past weekend I did something really cool that my mom would be very proud of: I ate pizza for at least two meals every day from Friday to Sunday. What I mean to say is, I went to D.C. where I don't have a kitchen or meal plan to learn more about the Israeli Palestinian conflict and some paths toward the two-state solution.

When I wasn't running frantically from the pizza place next door back to the convention center to get to the next panel, I was listening to a number of speakers passionate about ending the occupation, promoting peace domestically and abroad, and so much more. This weekend with JStreet, I had the opportunity to visit 17 out of the 19 Smithsonian museums, listen to Bernie Sanders speak not as someone trying to win an election, but as a Jewish person deeply troubled by the situation in Israel, and hear both Israeli and Palestinian voices sharing their stories. The conference, at least for me, culminated in the area just in front of the White House where we all, signs and bells in tow, protested for the rights of Palestinians and the ending of the occupation. This is where I felt the most inspired I had since the Women’s Marches, it was where, in a sea of thousands of young people yelling, “This is what democracy looks like,” I was reminded the deep obligation I have both to my country and to Israel. As a young person, born into this yet unconquered inequality and oppression, I was reminded of my unique ability to take my values and make change. After all, the world isn’t going to fix itself.

JStreet is a political organization with pro-peace pro-Israel goals. The organization aims to promote a peaceful Israel through a two-state solution. At their conferences, carefully-curated panels of impassioned activists speak on the nuances of bringing about peace. This is something I find to be very important. It is one thing for college students to learn in classrooms, but there is something so invaluable about being in Washington D.C. listening to MKs and Palestinian peace-workers debate policy.

I’d like to end on something I’ve taken away from the conference, something which was reinforced by Shimon Peres’s granddaughter, Mika Almog. No matter what you are working for, whether it be peace in a land you yourself have never been to, any of the domestic issues of inequality, you must love what you are fighting for. You must internalize it and come to have it as a part of yourself, because this, this is how you win the fight.