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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Executive Director Updates
Friday, December19, 2003
I want to wish you a joyful Chanukah (comes from the Hebrew word dedication). This year we at Brit Tzedek v'Shalom ask you to dedicate the eight flames of hope and miracles in honor of those Israelis and Palestinians whose bold actions through the darkness have renewed our dreams of peace.
Light one candle for the hundreds of Orthodox young people, many raised in the territories, who are organizing a movement against the occupation and against Messianic trends in their parents' generation. "The tragedy," says one of the young people, "is neither religious nor messianic but human -- of some people who build up something and are convinced of the rightness of their way."
Light one candle for the Coalition of Women for Peace. These ten Israeli women's organizations are united under the principle that "to end the conflict we must resolve problems through wisdom, not force." In September, the Coalition held a joint Israeli-Palestinian action at the Tulkarm checkpoint in which 500 women, half Palestinian and half Israeli, met on both sides of the gate. They are co-sponsoring (together with Palestinian women's organizations) an international Human Rights March for Women starting tomorrow, December 20.
Light one candle for the People's Voice Initiative authored by Ami Ayalon, retired admiral and former chief of the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security agency, and Sari Nusseibeh, president of Jerusalem's Al-Quds University and a Palestinian Liberation Organization veteran. This grassroots petition campaign aims to persuade leaders on both sides to end the conflict by gathering signatures on a joint statement of six principles that will form the basis for any viable two-state solution. To date, 84,000 Palestinians and 135,000 Israelis have signed the document.
Light one candle for Mehuyavut-L'Shalom v'Tzedek Hevrati / Commitment: To Peace and a Just Society. As Israel faces its third year of skyrocketing unemployment, Mehuyavut provides a public voice linking the occupation with the present economic difficulties. Mehuyavut organizes the thousands of unemployed from every sector of Israeli society, including Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern heritage), Bedouins, Russian immigrants, and Israeli Palestinian Arabs. Currently they are encouraging discussion of the Geneva Accord among the unemployed, linking it to peace and economic issues.
Light one candle for the 27 Israeli combat pilots -- an elite band whose members are known to be ferociously loyal -- for their public refusal: "We, who were raised to love the state of Israel and contribute to the Zionist enterprise, refuse to take part in Air Force attacks on civilian population centers. We, for whom the Israel Defense Forces and the Air Force are an inalienable part of ourselves, refuse to continue to harm innocent civilians."
Light one candle for the Bereaved Families Forum, Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families who have, as a result of the Israeli-Arab conflict, lost a family member. The Forum's "Hello, Salaam! Hello, Shalom! Hello, Peace!" project has enabled nearly half a million Israelis and Palestinians "to call toll-free to speak with someone on the 'other side' in the interest of enhancing empathy, reducing the level of hatred, and contributing to the possibility that, collectively, each side will take risks for peace."
Light one candle for the Geneva Accord officials whose principal negotiators, Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, sweated out two years in the company of Israeli and Palestinian politicians, security officials, academics, and grassroots leaders to give us a model document addressing every minute detail of what a final status peace agreement could look like. The Geneva Accord is proof positive that there is someone to talk to and there is something to talk about together -- peace.
Light one candle for all of the Israelis and Palestinians who struggle valiantly each day to keep the light burning.
"Don't let the light go out!" (Peter Yarrow, "Light One Candle")
Aliza Becker, Executive Director
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
P.S. Please remember us when you distribute your Chanukah gelt.
Send your check to our office at:
P.O. Box 180175
Chicago, IL 60618
call us (773) 583-5747, or fax us (773) 583-5772
your credit card information, or make an on-line contribution at: http://btvshalom.org/btvshalom.org/join/