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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
April 22, 2002.
Local Jews, Muslims point way toward respect, peace and unity
Seek options for equitable peace in the Middle East and elsewhere
This guest column was written by Monroe County residents Shana Ritter, Larry Moss and Jennifer Bass.
It is the time of year for renewal and remembrance. Passover, the holiday which retells the Jewish people's liberation from slavery in Egypt in biblical times, began on April 16. In Jewish homes throughout the world, friends and families gathered for the Seder meal.
Our tradition teaches that "whoever expands on telling about the exodus from Egypt is considered praiseworthy." Some of us in Bloomington's Jewish community will expand on the theme of liberation by relating it to the current situation in the Middle East. We will add our voices to those seeking a just negotiated end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Last fall we formed a group called Bloomington Jewish Peace Perspectives as a way to express our deep disagreement with the occupation while maintaining our deep commitment to Israel. As a result of much thinking, our group has decided to become a chapter of a national organization, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom; The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.
The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace is a national organization of American Jews deeply committed to Israel's well-being through a negotiated settlement and a two-state solution. We are guided by the mitzvah, or obligation, to pursue peace and justice that is rooted in both secular and religious Jewish traditions. We believe the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians long for an enduring peace and that security for Israel can only be achieved through the establishment of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state.
In these times of worldwide turmoil we feel it is important to join with others who seek viable options for an equitable peace. One such viable option is the "Road Map," written by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The plan asks both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take concurrent action to move beyond violence and toward two states living side by side in peace and security.
The Road Map basically calls for a trade of land for peace. It requires Israel to pull back from areas reoccupied during the present Intifada and end all settlement activity; and it calls for Palestinians unequivocally reiterating Israel's right to exist, an end to terrorism against Israel and the end of violence against Israelis anywhere. It ends with the Arab states' acceptance of Israel as a neighbor and with a Palestinian state in 2005.
Last December Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said of the plan, "We can live with it." But recently the Israeli government began rejecting points of the plan and, closer to home, U.S. Reps. Tom Lantos and Roy Blunt have begun collecting their colleagues' signatures on a petition calling for President Bush to reject the basic principles of the Road Map -- a timeline for an IDF withdrawal from the territories, the establishment of a provisional Palestinian state and negotiations on a final status accord. Further, it exempts Israel from any responsibility to alter the situation in the territories or freeze settlements.
As Iraq begins to rebuild, we must not forget what is probably the most difficult political problem in the world today. We hope that our country will continue to take the lead on matters of peace. We should not allow narrow interests to drive us off that road towards peace.
We agree with the New York Times editorial of April 13: "We believe the Bush administration has a historic opportunity to transform the psychology of the stalled Mideast peace process. His starting point should be the road map toward peace painstakingly drawn up with Europe, Russia and the United Nations late last year and scheduled for publication as soon as the new Palestinian prime minister's cabinet is sworn in."
The traditional Passover Seder ends on notes of hope and longing for a better world.
We call on our Indiana representatives not to sign any letters in opposition to an equitable peace. Please, add your voice to ours.
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