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Obama has work to do in Israel, speaker says

There is not much hope for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, Israeli journalist and author Gershom Gorenberg told about 135 people at the Ohabei Shalom Temple in Brookline on Sunday night.

‘I think that, if it’s still possible, our time is running out,’ Gorenberg said. ‘I’d like to believe it’s still possible because a single-state solution is not a solution.’

People who think a unified state is possible are losing faith in the idea despite President Barack Obama’s election on the promise of hope and change, he said.

‘We need a two-state solution,’ he said. ‘I very much hope that the new presidential administration pursues vigorous diplomacy.’

Gorenberg, who has written for ‘The New Republic’ and ‘The New York Times’ and has appeared on several television news stations as a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, said Israel’s tolerance for Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a major point of contention. Israel withdrew its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but has yet to pull its citizens from West Bank settlements.

‘There is no simple path to peace, and there is no path to peace that doesn’t involve dealing with the settlement issue,’ Gorenberg said.

Israel’s government cares too much about its people to simply tell those’ in the West Bank that if they do not leave the area by a certain time, they will no longer be under government protection, Gorenberg said. The country’s leaders will not allow them to remain where they are, be deemed outside of the protection of the government and be ‘massacred,’ he said.

‘Israelis really care about each other, even when they disagree with each other,’ he said.

New Israel Fund New England Regional Director Monica Rosner Brettler said Gorenberg is honest about his opinions when he speaks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

‘He’s someone who’s very articulate and balanced and fair and who presents a very progressive picture,’ Brettler said.

New Israel Fund, which helped coordinate Gorenberg’s appearance, promotes social justice and equality in Israel.

Donna Spiegelman, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace Boston Chapter chairwoman, said she, like Gorenberg, hopes the new presidential administration will be instrumental in affecting rapid change in the Israeli-Palestine area. Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, an organization that supports a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, also helped coordinate Gorenberg’s appearance.

‘We’re really hoping the Obama administration will vigorously and actively advocate for a state solution, and do it quickly,’ Spiegelman said.

Francis Goldberg, who attended the lecture, said whatever solution Israel and Palestine attempt to pursue will not be easy.

‘In some ways, we’re all feeling that no matter what path is followed, there are obstacles everywhere,’ Goldberg said. ‘It all comes down to the survival of a Jewish state.”

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