Reminder: Tonight Ray Hanania and Saffiya Shillo will speak on "Strengthening the Moderate Voice for Peace in the Palestinian American Community" at 9:30pm EST as part of our conference call series "Palestinian Perspectives on the post-Arafat Political Landscape." For more information.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE
November 2004
By Aliza Becker, Executive Director


BRIT TZEDEK GROWS MORE THAN 100-FOLD
Brit Tzedek's grassroots and Internet-based outreach in support of the Open Letter from American Jews to the Next President
has helped to increase our base of members and supporters dramatically. In just over two years, we have grown from 200 founding members to over 23,000 nationwide. Mazel tov and thank you!

OPEN LETTER PRESENTED TO SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR TODAY

Today, the Open Letter from American Jews to the Next President signed by over 8000 American Jews was hand-delivered to Elliot Abrams, the head of Middle East affairs for the U.S. National Security Council, in a meeting with representatives of the eight American Jewish organizations that mobilized support for the letter.

The meeting between Abrams and the community leaders occurred on November 30, 2004, on the eve of Abrams’ trip with National Security Advisor appointee, Stephen Hadley to the Middle East to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leadership.

“This meeting represented an important preliminary exchange of ideas, during which we clearly conveyed our support for the vigorous pursuit of a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” says Brit Tzedek Vice President Diane Balser, who attended the meeting. “We expressed the importance of the appointment of a high level envoy to demonstrate the seriousness of the Administration’s commitment to facilitating a resolution to the conflict.” 

Over 85% of these signatures were gathered by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, due in large part to a substantial Internet outreach campaign and good old-fashioned grassroots organizing. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom chapters across the country have collected signatures and spread the call for U.S. reengagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in numerous and creative ways. Chapters have held house parties, attended local Jewish events, petitioned at street corners, gathered endorsements from prominent Jewish members of their community and organized public events to promote the Open Letter.

The Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Durham/Chapel Hill, Kansas City, Minnesota, San Francisco Bay Area, St. Louis, Kansas City and Minneapolis chapters each placed ads soliciting support for the Open Letter in the their local Jewish newspapers.

CHAZAN SAYS: 'NOW IS THE TIME' IN SEVEN-CITY SPEAKING TOUR

Naomi Chazan, prominent peace activist and former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, is in the midst of a two-month, seven-city speaking tour on behalf of Brit Tzedek. Addressing audiences across the country in synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and universities, Chazan speaks on "The Future of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State."

Upcoming speaking engagements:

December 4, 2004--LOS ANGELES
Naomi Chazan will speak at a lunch following Shabbat services at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, 1434 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena. Services begin at 9 am and lunch will follow at approximately noon. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call the synagogue at (626) 798-1161 or contact info@btvshalom.org.

December 5, 2004--SAN FRANCISCO 

Naomi Chazan will speak at Stern Hall in Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Street, Oakland at 7:00pm. For more information, contact sf-bayarea@btvshalom.org.

 

Chazan's appearances have garnered significant media coverage from broadcast and print media alike. In Chicago, she was interviewed at length by the local ABC and CBS affiliates, and in Bloomington by the local CBS affiliate. A video-recording of her presentation will be broadcast on a Madison Community Television (Channel 4) in two parts on December 4 and 11 at 5:00pm. A list of newspaper stories follows.  

Chazan: Don't Miss Opening for Peace, Former Israeli Lawmaker Cites Rare Opportunity by Jan Jaben-Eilon in the Atlanta Jewish Times, November 19, 2004. 

Knesset speaker: Disengage, Naomi Chazan Says Palestinian State Necessary for Peace by Rick Newkirk in the Indiana Daily Student, November 8, 2004.

"Now is the time:" Former member of Israeli Knesset Sees Chance for Peace in Middle East by Jon Reiter, Herald-Times, November 8, 2004.

Memorial Service Set to Honor the Memory of Yitzchak Rabin by Kenneth L.R. Patchen in the Highland Park News, October 28, 2004.

MITZNA SPEAKS TO OVER 1,800 PEOPLE IN THREE-DAY TRIP TO BAY AREA
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter recently hosted Member of Knesset (Labor) Amram Mitzna.

In less than three days, Mitzna directly addressed 1,800 people at six events, in addition to which he headlined a breakfast meeting with executives of the World Affairs Council. The six events included appearances at three Bay Area synagogues: Conservative Congregation Beth Sholom, Reform Temple Isaiah, and Reform Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Mitzna's appearance at San Francisco State University was particularly significant because the campus has been a flashpoint for tensions about the Middle East for the last two decades. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, this event had the largest turnout that department has has seen in ten years. Sixty faculty, students and staff listened intently and participated in a candid and engaging question and answer session afterwards.  

News coverage:


Gaza Plan, Arafat Death Mark New Era, Says Labor Leader by Alexandra J. Wall in J., The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, November 19, 2004.

MADISON, WI CHAPTER BRINGS TOGETHER DIVIDED JEWISH COMMUNITY

Madison, Wisconsin was in the national spotlight when the Jewish community became bitterly divided over a City Council resolution that would have made Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, a sister city. Shortly after the final vote (the resolution was defeated), the Madison chapter contributed to healing the rift by hosting a Brit Tzedek-designed listening project at a local synagogue in which “both sides” had the opportunity to thoughtfully hear one another and talk about Israel, the Palestinians and how to bring peace to the region.

CHICAGO, LOUISVILLE AND SEATTLE CHAPTERS CO-SPONSOR ISRAELI/JEWISH-PALESTINIAN DIALOGUE EVENTS
Brit Tzedek’s Chicago and Seattle chapters co-sponsored events featuring leading Israeli peace activist and Brit Tzedek Advisory Committee member Gila Svirsky along with Palestinian peace activists Hidaya Najmi and Marianne Albina. The Louisville chapter co-sponsored an event that featured Israeli Yossi Alpher, co-editor of the online newsletter bitterlemons.org and Ziad Abu-Sayyad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem. In Chicago, the Brit Tzedek chapter joined Americans for Peace Now and several moderate Palestinian organizations in co-sponsoring Americans for Peace Now founder and Policy Director Mark Rosenblum and former advisor to the UN Special Counsel Omar Dajani.  

News coverage:

Palestinians-Jews Explore Peace Options Beyond US Elections by Ray Hanania in Media Monitors Network on October 7, 2004.

BRIT TZEDEK LEADERSHIP BRINGS OUR MESSAGE TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL VENUES

President Marcia Freedman presented Brit Tzedek’s principles and goals in a speech at the U.N. International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People. The conference theme was "Ending the occupation -- a key prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East." For news coverage of the conference's proceedings, including Freedman's speech, go to UN Civil Society Meeting Seeks to End Israeli Occupation of Palestine in UN News Service on September 16, 2004.

Last week Freedman visited the Pacific Northwest chapters, which include Seattle, Portland and Olympia. During this trip, she spoke at three synagogues, two universities and three chapter meetings. In Portland, she was interviewed on two community radio shows, one on a public affairs show and the other on a program called "The Women's Show." In addition, one of her Portland speeches was taped and will be broadcast on community radio in both Portland and Astoria. There are several news articles pending about Freedman’s visit, which we will post as they become available.

Vice-President Diane Balser was a featured speaker at the Union of Progressive Zionists founding conference, where she spoke about the power of young people to effect change through grassroots social justice movements. Diane and National Chapter Organizer Carinne Luck also presented at several workshops at the conference. The UPZ is a broad network of students whose goal is to activate a progressive Zionist presence on campuses across North America.

Executive Director Aliza Becker recently conducted a workshop session entitled, "Loving Israel, Questioning Its Policies," at the national KESHER College Convention in Evanston, Illinois which was sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism.

Steve Masters, Chair of the Advocacy and Public Policy Committee, recently spoke at three different events in northern New Jersey.
 
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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