By Aliza Becker, Executive
District Meetings A Success
Tours: Daniel Levy and Rafi Dajani; One
Voice Campus Dialogue
Updates: Palestinian Aid Status; Maale Adumim
Expansion; Silwan Housing Demolition Order
Audio Recordings of May Town Hall Conference Calls Now
Available; Brit Tzedek Sponsors "Another Road Home"
Highlights: New York City Launches Young Adult
Program; Chapter Joins Greater Boston JCRC
Staff Updates: Welcome
Brit Tzedek Summer Interns
Brit Tzedek in the News: CEO Diane
Balser's Op-ed Appears in New York Jewish Week; More Articles
and Broadcast Media
Home District Meetings a
In a coordinated nationwide effort, Brit
Tzedek chapters met with the home district offices of over 30
U.S. Senators and Representatives. The elected officials and
their staff representatives were on the whole very responsive to
Brit Tzedek's "Pro-Israel! Pro-Peace!
Progress!" message, with many expressing
interest in building a long-term relationship with chapter
One meeting participant reports, "The staff
members were very clear that they wanted us to keep them well
informed so that when the Congresswoman is on the Floor of the
House, she will have the necessary data when she chooses to make
a statement on our issues."
Another participant who met with a Senator's
State Director said, "I think the value of the visit was in
introducing ourselves to the office and opening the door for us
in the future. She gave us all her personal email address and
said she would be happy to hear from us."
We look forward to building on these
home-district meetings during our upcoming National Advocacy
Days, June 27-28, when over 50 of Brit Tzedek's national
spokespersons and activists take our message to key
Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.
Daniel Levy and
Daniel Levy, a primary drafter of the
Geneva Accord, and Rafi Dajani, executive director of the
American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP),headlined a multi-city
Brit Tzedek tour, April 14-20, which included numerous venues in
Chicago, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Madison, Milwaukee and Denver. The
events were co-sponsored by Geneva Initiative-North America and the
campus group, Union of Progressive Zionists. Local
co-sponsors included Ameinu/Labor Zionist Alliance-Detroit,
University of Michigan Hillel, American Jewish
Committee-Milwaukee, Yalla Salam (Palestinians for Peace Now),
and the Geneva Accord-Colorado. Tour page.
The tour received extensive media coverage.
Newspaper Articles and Radio Coverage:
"A Public Affair," by Rafi Dajani of the
American Task Force on Palestine. WORT 89.9FM, April
"Palestinian-Israeli Team Urges Renewed Push for
Peace," by Ray Hanania. Arab American Media
Syndicate, April 16, 2005.
"Officials Talk about Middle East
Conflict," by John Potratz. The Badger
Herald, April 20, 2005.
"Progressing toward Peace," by Shira
Goldman. The Madison Observer, April 20, 2005.
"Two Sides, Two Peoples, One Hope for
Peace," by Amanda Sheaffer. Marquette
Tribune, April 21, 2005.
"Giving Peace a Chance," by Ruth Conniff.
The Progressive Blog, April 25, 2005.
"COMMENT: Gaza Withdrawal Requires Solid Leadership
and Guidance," by Rafi Dajani and Daniel Levy.
Detroit Free Press, May 6, 2005.
One Voice Campus
Brit Tzedek joined One Voice in launching
its Campus Dialogue Program in Chicago in partnership with the
American Task Force on Palestine, The Initiative for Israel on
Illinois Campuses: A Partnership of the Jewish United Fund's
Jewish Community Relations Council and others.
Israeli and Palestinian One Voice youth
leaders Gazit Orit and Sari Husseini were joined by Palestinian
One Voice executive director, Nisreen Shahin, and Professor Muli
Peleg, who is spearheading the One Voice Youth Leadership
Program. Programs were held at the University of Chicago, DePaul
University and Northwestern University.
Voice is a grassroots Middle East peace organization
that works to empower the silent majority of moderates on both
sides of the Middle East conflict in order to create a popular
mandate for peace.
the House and Senate passed a compromised version of an
emergency supplemental appropriations act for the fiscal year
ending September 30, 2005 (HR1268), which included the provision
of $200 million in aid to the Palestinians as requested by
President Bush. The resolution, however, placed unprecedented
restrictions on the distribution of the aid, including the
a) a wide-ranging new report on PA
b) an additional audit of PA finances
(costing $5 million which will be deducted from the total fund);
c) that $50 million of this package be earmarked for Israel
to build high-tech terminals at the checkpoints.
It also earmarks $3.5 million of the aid for
Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem and $2 million for Hadassah,
the Women's Zionist Organization of America.
Furthermore, in an appended manager's
statement (which is generally upheld in the implementation), it
is specified that this allotment not be used for direct
financial support for the PA. The aid instead is to be disbursed
indirectly through USAID, under strict conditions, for
development projects carried out by nongovernmental
Expressing the need for more Palestinian
aid, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) wrote in an op-ed
for USA Today that, "President Abbas cannot turn his words [of
peace] into reality if the resources required for success,
particularly Gaza, are not readily available [...] We must look
ahead and make sure President Abbas has the means to do his part
to make peace in the Middle East a real possibility." Full text.
On May 26, President Bush pledged a further
$50 million in direct aid to Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas, during the first White House talks in five years
between U.S. and Palestinian leaders. This aid will be used for
new housing and infrastructure projects in Gaza, "where poverty
and unemployment are very high," Bush said during a post-meeting
news conference. The money which Bush earmarked "to help ensure
that the Gaza disengagement is a success," is the first direct
aid the United States has given to the Palestinian Authority.
Previous donations have gone through non-governmental
The House Foreign Operations Appropriations
Subcommittee last week approved a foreign aid package that
contains $150 million in economic assistance for the
Palestinians. We anticipate that the issue of placing
restrictive conditions on the distribution of Palestinian aid
will spark new debate in Congress in the near future.
Brit Tzedek will remain actively involved in
promoting additional Palestinian aid. At this time of renewed
hope and progress toward peace, we believe that the U.S. must
send a message of strong support for the path of peace and
non-violence currently being pursued by the
democratically-elected Palestinian leadership.
Maale Adumim Expansion
Construction plans to add 3,500 housing units to expand
Maale Adumim westward have been suspended for the time being.
The expansion would have completed the "envelope" of Israeli
neighborhoods and settlements surrounding Arab East Jerusalem.
This would cut off any territorial contiguity between the
250,000 Palestinian residents of the city and the rest of the
Silwan Housing Demolition
We joined thousands of voices around the world
in urging President Bush to insist that the Israeli government
halt plans for the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in the
East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Brit Tzedek sent nearly
3000 messages to our elected officials. Jerusalem Mayor Uri
Lupolianski subsequently announced, "The Jerusalem municipality
does not intend to issue demolition orders for houses in the
Arab neighborhood of Silwan." Read more from Haaretz or an update from the BBC.
Audio Recordings of May Town Hall
Conference Calls Available
Audio recordings of Brit
Tzedek's most recent Town Hall Conference Call series, "Looking
Forward," are now available.
* Challenges and
Successes of the Palestinian Authority since the Elections with
Yasser Abed Rabbo Audio
* Current Israeli Policies in and
Plans for Jerusalem with Daniel Seideman Audio
* Where to from Gaza? with Daniel
Brit Tzedek Sponsors Another
Brit Tzedek is delighted to sponsor
the nationwide screenings of Another Road Home, Danae
Elon's film about the search for the Palestinian man who helped
raise her. Read JTA review. Brit Tzedek
chapters across the country are organizing viewings and
discussion sessions. Read more about the
New York City Launches Young Adult
Brit Tzedek's New York City chapter recently
launched a young adult program with a monthly discussion group
and happy hour. Post-college, progressive Jewish New Yorkers
meet monthly to discuss current topics of interest to the
American Jewish community, vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, considering its effects on Brit Tzedek and our
organizing efforts. Previous discussion topics include: "The
Role of American Jews in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict", and
"the Gaza Disengagement Plan." For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter Joins Greater Boston
The Boston chapter recently became a member of
the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater
Boston which is comprised of a range of community organizations
that work together to facilitate dialogue and forge an action
agenda by encouraging collaborative partnerships within the
Jewish community and between the Boston Jewish community and
broader society. Beth Wasserman represents the local chapter on
the board while Brit Tzedek CEO Diane Balser sits on the Israeli
Roundtable of Jewish Professionals.
Brit Tzedek Welcomes Summer
We are pleased to welcome Jason Pollens, a
senior at Clark University, and Daryn Glassbrook, a doctoral
candidate at Purdue University and lecturer in the English
Department of the University of Nevada-Reno, who recently
commenced an eight-week summer internship at our national office
in Chicago. Pollens, whose work will focus on advocacy and
public policy, previously served as the Executive Vice President
of the Clark University Hillel and as intern in the
Congressional Office of James McGovern (D-MA). Glassbrook, whose
work will focus on the organization's education and
communications, has been active in local Jewish peace
organizations and has spoken publicly to university audiences on
issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
BRIT TZEDEK IN THE
CEO Diane Balser's Op-Ed Appears in
An op-ed by Diane
Balser, who will assume the new position of CEO this summer,
recently appeared in the New York Jewish Week, whose
five regional editions reach 90,000 households weekly. The
op-ed, entitled, "Push U.S. on Peace," calls on American Jews to
"tell Congress and the administration that our country must be
pro-Israel by becoming an active partner for peace...[by]
support[ing] this summer's disengagement and oppos[ing] any
attempt by anti-peace factions on either side to derail
negotiations or prejudice their outcome."
"Push U.S. On Peace," by Diane Balser.
New York Jewish Week, May 27, 2005.
"Boston's Far Left-Wing Jews Are Determined not to Be
Left Out," by Shira
Schoenberg. Boston Jewish Advocate, April 22-28,
"Brit Tzedek v'Shalom: Supporting the Peace
Process," by Joseph Dimow. Jewish Currents,
"Virtual Political Tour of Jerusalem
Sunday." Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, May
"City of Brotherly Love." JTA
News, May 20, 2005.
"Despite Distaste for Settlements, Philadelphia's Jews
Shun Boycott," by Jordana Jacobs, JTA News,
May 24, 2005.
"AIPAC: Big, But Not the Only Game in
Town," by Luke Mullins. Roll Call, May 26,
"Fulfilling the Dream," by Allan Abrams.
Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, May 27, 2005.
"Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Progress," by Rich
Breitkopf. Atlanta Jewish Times, June 3, 2005.
"Pressing Peace in Era of GOP, Pro-Oslo Group Gets New
Look," by Ori Nir. Forward, June 3, 2005.
"Fulfilling the Dream of Peace," by Raphael
Ezekiel and Beth Wasserman. Boston Jewish Advocate,
June 3-9, 2005.
"Memorial Day Campaign Launched."
Boston Jewish Advocate, June 3-9, 2005.
Executive Director Aliza Becker appeared in a
TV interfaith panel discussion on "Judaism, Christianity and
Peace" aired on Sunday, June 12th on WBBM, a CBS affiliate. The
show, called Different Drummers, was produced by Chicago
Broadcast Ministries, an interdenominational Christian
organization producing educational TV programs on religious
topics for various Chicago-area churches.
President Marcia Freedman was interviewed by
the BBC's "World Today" radio show on May 21st.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and
11 E. Adams Street, Suite
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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