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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
St. Louis, MO
Group Seeks 'Just Peace' in Mideast
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, the organization that sponsored "refuser pilot" Yonatan Shapira, might not be familiar to many.
The three-year-old national organization comprises American Jews who are strongly committed to a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the Geneva Accord peace agreement of October 2003. (The Geneva Accord is a peace agreement drafted by Israeli left-wing politicians and senior Palestinian representatives.)
"This organization is designed to increase the level of dialogue within the Jewish community toward the end of a peaceful resolution between the Israelis and Palestinians," said Gloria Gordon, charter member of the St. Louis chapter, which waws formed about one year ago.
A core group who feel the same way decided to form a chapter here because, Gordon said, "We agreed with the founding principles and felt the resource of this national organization would help us."
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom primarily seeks to generate dialogue within the American Jewish community in an effort to direct U.S. foreign policy more toward its "just peace" agenda.
The organization's founding principles include evaucation of Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank; the termination of state-initiated violence; a complete end to Israeli military occupation of territories occupied since 1967 in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem; establishment of a viable Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders alongside Israel; recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of both states, and a just resolution fo the Palestinian refugee problem.
Anna Ginsberg of the St. Louis chapter said that part of the work of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is to "be another voice within the Jewish community. We're looking for a two-state solution to bring peace to the Middle East. We came together for the purpose of a strong pro-peace, pro-Israel voice in the American Jewish community."
Ginsberg said she has seen progress in terms of people acknowledging that there are different perspectives within the Jewish community.
The national organization just concluded its third conference, and, according to Lois Levine, has 30 chapters with around 10,000 members in the United States.
"We are Jews who love Israel but are concerned about the direction [its going] and want to see a negotiated settlement," said Levine, another member of the St. Louis chapter.
Levine called the "occupation and terrible violence on both sides" destructive to both Israeli and Palestinian society and explained that Brit Tzedek v'Shalom seeks to promote open dialogue within the Jewish community about the issues.
"We want to help in any way as American Jews to influence American policy to bring about a negotiated settlement," Levine said. "We are committed to a Jewish state, a Zionist state."
Those who are critical of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's path to peace cite the fact that it doesn't consider the root cause of the conflict, which is Arab rejection of Israel's legitimacy and right to exist.
For more information on Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, visit www.btvshalom.org.