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Obama Won't Have to Kiss AIPAC's Ring -- Progressive Alternative to Hawkish Mideast Policies Emerges

A new wave of progressive Jewish activists are challenging the dominance of AIPAC and other hawkish groups on Gaza, Israeli settlers and even Iran.

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"If you are prepared to listen to a wide range of informed opinions and have the intellectual capacity and willingness to process them, then organizations like ours will inevitably play a much more important role," says Nick Bunzl, executive director of the pro-peace Israel Policy Forum. Among the proposals advocated by IPF is an immediate cease-fire in Gaza followed by a 10-year armistice conditioned on a full lifting of Israel's blockade and an end to rocket attacks.

Whatever the particulars of the administration's forthcoming plan, a chorus is growing for a vigorous U.S. re-engagement with a problem that has been allowed to fester and is now burning. From the foreign policy community to the new Jewish net-roots, the call for bold action, and change, is clear.

"During its first several months, the Obama administration will have to make a choice," says Ben-Ami. "Either continue with the status quo of a low-level peace process on the back burner, or turn the current crisis into an opportunity to redefine American foreign policy and achieve a settlement."

Let the newly enlarged conversation begin.

Alexander Zaitchik is a freelance journalist.