A Unique Opportunity to Organize
By Diane Balser, Vice President


The United States presidential election season provides us with a unique opportunity to accelerate mobilization towards a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only do Americans talk more politics during the election season, but it is a time when the politicians actually listen. While both candidates have strategically skirted much direct address of the hot-potato issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Middle East, is a key election issue this year.

Regardless of personal political aspirations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not remain on the back burner for long. We have been recently reminded of this by the surge of violence in the Gaza Strip. We must seize this opportunity to mobilize our community behind a message that is at once pro-Israel and pro-peace, so that the new presidential administration must take notice. Together, we must build an American Jewish voice for peace. Please sign the Open Letter at http://openletter.btvshalom.org.

The Open Letter presents us with a unique opportunity to organize many of the millions of American Jews across the country who understand the importance of a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the critical role of the United States government in its realization.

Time and again, when we speak to our elected officials about Brit Tzedek principles, we are asked how many people we represent and are told to return to them with the grassroots. The Open Letter offers us an opening to do just that by providing a platform from which we can reach many more Jews on the issue of a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and thus take a political step forward in influencing U.S. foreign policy.

Polls consistently demonstrate that a solid majority of American Jews support the principles of a negotiated, two-state resolution to the conflict. Our challenge now is to reach and engage these people. Then we will take not just a message, but also a mandate from our community to the next President. Together, we will let him know that we not only want, but expect that he will make every effort to renew negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Social justice and political activism play a central role in Jewish tradition. In our religious teachings, our collective experience, and our numerous and varied traditions, we are encouraged and inspired to work towards something greater than the sum of the individual, towards tikkun olam, or literally, "repair of the world." This is a tradition of which we can be proud, both because we stand up for that in which we believe and, in so doing, we cultivate effective tools for creating political change. This does not by any means imply that all Jews agree on every issue-- we have all heard the jokes about five Jews with ten opinions-- but it does mean that the process of organizing on behalf of a greater good is very much part of our community's social, cultural and historical experience.

Those of us who care deeply about Israel and who believe in the efficacy and justice inherent in a two-state solution know that Israel will be strengthened and secured by such a resolution. But we must now use the Open Letter to reach beyond ourselves to build a broader and more visible base of support. 

Please join us in the pursuit of tzedek v'shalom ("justice and peace"), by signing the Open Letter today at http://openletter.btvshalom.org and passing it on by going to http://openletter.btvshalom.org/tell_others.htm.

Ways You Can Make A Difference

* E-mail the Open Letter with your own personal message of endorsement to everyone you know: friends, family, and colleagues.  To send a form letter to your network, go to http://openletter.btvshalom.org/tell_others.htm

* Please regularly check the list of Open Letter signers at http://openletter.btvshalom.org/signers.php to see if people you invited to sign have added their names. If they have not, please telephone them to emphasize your support for the letter and encourage them to join you.

* Help gather signatures on our paper petitions  or one-page fliers. Bring petitions to Jewish community events or events that might attract a large number of Jews.

* Donate money to place an advertisement in support of the Open Letter in your local paper or the national media, by going to http://openletter.btvshalom.org/cc_contribution.htm.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Ste 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206
info@btvshalom.org
http://www.btvshalom.org

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