March 2005
By Aliza Becker, Executive Director

Diane Balser Appointed Acting CEO
Cabot Trust Honors Marcia Freedman
Helen Bader Foundation Backs "Reclaiming Communal Dialogue" Project
Brit Tzedek Produces Fact Sheets on the Conflict
Shapira Tour a Resounding Success
Midwest Tour with Daniel Levy and Rafi Dajani
First Message to the President Delivered
Chapter Highlights
Follow-up on Palestinian Aid
Brit Tzedek in the News

Brit Tzdek v'Shalom is pleased to announce that its vice president, Diane Balser, will step into the new position of Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) beginning this summer.

In addition to serving as vice president, Balser is co-chair of Brit Tzedek's Advocacy and Public Policy committee, in which capacity she has spearheaded major advocacy campaigns, including "Bring the Settlers Home" and the "Open Letter to the Next President." With Marcia Freedman, she represented Brit Tzedek at the signing of the Geneva Accord.

Balser is currently a professor of Women's Studies at Boston University. She was the founder of the Women's Statewide Legislative Network of Massachusetts, which was the largest network of individuals and organizations in Massachusetts representing women on public policy issues. The network trained thousands of women in effective participation in the legislative process and in public policy decision making. Balser also led delegations of women to the third and fourth NGO International Conference for Women held in Kenya and China, respectively. At the third conference she co-facilitated a forum on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and at the fourth conference she organized the first ever Shabbat ceremony held at an international women's conference. Read more

On April 5th, 2005 Balser will be honored as a "Woman Who Dared" by the Jewish Women's Archive and Women's Philanthropy at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. The award celebrates the brave actions and bold life choices of the everyday Jewish female heroes in our midst. The ceremony will be held at Temple Israel in Boston.

Balser's colleagues have many kind words for her: Read more
The Massachusetts based Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, Inc. recently honored the life's work of Marcia Freedman on behalf of a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a $20,000 gift to Brit Tzedek. Freedman is Brit Tzedek's current and founding president.

Through a generous grant of $20,000 from the Helen Bader Foundation, Brit Tzedek has launched its "Reclaiming Communal Dialogue" project to create space within the Jewish community for open discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Brit Tzedek has worked in conjunction with numerous scholars to produce seven short fact sheets on different aspects of the conflict, including a chronology of the conflict; the Green Line; Jerusalem; the occupation; the settlements; the security barrier, and water. More topics are in the works. The fact sheets are now available on our website for the purposes of personal and public education.

Pilot refuser Yonatan Shapira was warmly welcomed at synagogues, Hillels and Jewish community centers throughout the country on his 12-city tour co-sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and the Refuser Solidarity Network.

"As a rescue pilot" Shapira told audiences across the country, "I feel this is the most important rescue mission I can take upon myself... out of love and great caring for my country and my people. I want to have a future of peace and not of endless violence."

The tour received extensive print and broadcast media coverage in Chicago, Madison, Olympia, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis. In San Francisco, Shapira appeared on the 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm news of the local CBS affiliate and Shapira's Olympia presentation was videotaped by the local cable television channel. He was also interviewed on the radio by KFPA in Berkeley and WORT in Madison.

Newspaper Articles:
"Dissenting Pilot Captures the True Spirit of Israel," by Michael Gelman, The Capital Times, March 19, 2005 

"Up Close and Personal: Israeli Refuser Pilot on US Tour," by Sonia Nettnin, The Palestine Chronicle, March 18, 2005

"Refuser Pilot Speaks to Crowd at Shaare Emeth," by Mitch Schneider, St. Louis Jewish Light, March 16, 2005

"An Israeli Refuser's Message for Peace," by Ruth Conniff, The Progressive, March 7, 2005

"Former Israeli Air Force Pilot Now Delivering Message of Peace," by Su-Jin Yim, Oregonian, March 3, 2005

"Israeli Talks of Why He Refused Army Service," by Rachel Zuckerman, Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, March 3, 2005

"Israeli Pilot Tells Story of His Refusal to Bomb," by Jakob Schiller, Berkeley Daily Planet, March 1, 2005

"Settler vs. Refusenik: A Debate of Conscience," by Joshua Rosenstein, JT News, the Voice of Jewish Washington, March 2005

Daniel Levy, a primary drafter of the Geneva Accord, and Rafi Dajani, executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), will headline a Brit Tzedek tour of the midwest, which will be co-sponsored by Geneva Initiative-North America and the campus group, Union of Progressive Zionists. Daniel Levy was the the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Accord and is the current director of policy planning and international efforts at the Geneva Campaign Headquarters in Tel Aviv. Rafi Dajani directs ATFP, a Palestinian-American organization dedicated to articulating the national security interest to the United States in bringing about lasting peace and stability in the Middle East by establishing a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel. 

The first message in Brit Tzedek's campaign of successive Messages to the President, launched this past January, was signed by 1396 people in just one month. The message was delivered to Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; Robert Danin, Director for Levant, Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and David M. Satterfield, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. This message calls on the President to capitalize on the momentum created by recent major developments in the Palestinian and Israeli political systems, by taking concrete steps towards active and strategic U.S. engagement that will facilitate the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Sign the second Message to the President today!

Shapira Tour Helps New St. Louis Chapter Grow
Yonatan Shapira's presentation in St. Louis was the second public event of this relatively new chapter. Yonatan spoke before a crowd of nearly 200 people at Shaare Emeth Congregation, one of St. Louis' largest Reform synagogues. "When (Brit Tzedek) called to ask about using the temple for this event, we were excited to say yes. We wanted to present a voice that is not generally heard in St. Louis. We want to see a safe Israel and we each have different ideas on how to reach that point, but we have to be respectful of everyone's ideas," said Rabbi Andrea Goldstein of Shaare Emeth. In addition, to growing the chapter, the event was a significant step forward in the chapter's relationship with the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council.

Boston Chapter Meets with Representative Barney Frank
On Monday, February 28th, 5 representatives of the Boston Chapter met with Congressman Barney Frank of the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District. They discussed recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Rep. Frank's perspective on these issues, and support within the American Jewish community for a negotiated two-state solution. View the follow-up letter that the delegation sent to the Congressman.

Read the Congressman's recent speech on the floor of the House of Representatives about the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

On March 7th, Brit Tzedek posted an Action Alert urging Congressional Representatives to support the Bush Administration's proposal for $200 million in emergency aid to the Palestinians without placing numerous onerous conditions on the aid that would ultimately undercut it. As Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) commented in the Forward, "If you want to ensure that there will not be a peace process, then you attach enough strings (to the aid package) that you strangle the process."

The resulting legislation was a mixed bag. While the House approved the provision of $200 million in assistance to the Palestinians to help finance the development of Palestinian economic and social infrastructure, the bill also included many restrictions intended to delay, if not prevent, altogether, the disbursement of this urgently needed assistance. The bill requires two new audits of funds granted to the Palestinians, as well as a report on a wide range of Palestinian reforms and other actions and policies (entirely unrelated to transparency and oversight of U.S. assistance). And most egregiously, the bill removes the President's ability to waive the ban on direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, thereby blocking him from granting any of the aid directly to the PA, even if he deems it to be in the U.S.' national security interests. This restriction creates a standard for issuing the waiver that is more restrictive than that which governed aid to Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat, despite the dramatic Palestinian political developments of late.

The Senate is expected to take up this legislation when it returns from spring recess, so please keep your eyes open for future Action Alerts on this critical issue.

"The Left's New Hero: Sharon," by Walter Ruby, New York Jewish Week, March 3, 2005

"Surge of Optimism in the Mideast also Breathes Life into Jewish Left," by Chanan Tigay, JTA News, February 28, 2005  

"More Support Essential for Peace Breakthrough," by Ray Hanania, Orlando Sentinel, February 10, 2005
"Pro-Israel Groups Slow to React to New Bush Push for Palestinians," by Ron Kampeas, JTA News, February 8, 2005

"Peace Breakthrough Still Needs More Support," by Ray Hanania, Newsday, February 8, 2005
"Critical Currents: Israel as Footnote," by Naomi Chazan, Jerusalem Post, January 20, 2005
"Marcia Freedman Talks Peace," by Manny Frishberg, JT News, the Voice of Jewish Washington, December 3, 2004

"Students, Professors Petition for U.S. Aid in Israel," by Mary Cavanaugh, Daily Cardinal, November 30, 2004
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206

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