Amnesty International USA director Paul O’Brien appears to have taken a position against the notion of Israel being a Jewish state in its current sense, telling the Women’s National Democratic Club at an event earlier this week that it instead should serve as “a safe Jewish space” that adheres to Jewish values.
“The right of the people to self-determination and to be protected is without a doubt something that we believe in, and I personally believe that,” he said, according to Jewish Insider. “We are opposed to the idea — and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate — that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people.”
O’Brien rejected a 2020 survey that found the vast majority of American Jews identify as “pro-Israel” and feel “attached” to the Jewish state.
“I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said. “I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home.”
Rather than a Jewish state with a clear Jewish majority, American Jews want “a safe Jewish space,” said O’Brien, who is not Jewish.
“I think they can be convinced over time that the key to sustainability is to adhere to what I see as core Jewish values, which are to be principled and fair and just in creating that space.”