by Aliza Becker, Executive Director

As you light the candles of your menorah for Chanukah, we ask that each night you devote one of the eight flames to honoring Israelis and Palestinians whose bold actions inspire us as American Jews to work for a peaceful Israel and Palestine living side by side.

Light one candle for Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence)

Shovrim Shtika is an organization of Israeli soldiers and veterans dedicated to breaking the code of silence surrounding the occupation. Founded in 2004, Shovrim Shtika protests the occupation on the grounds that it has a corrupting influence on those charged with enforcing it.

The group aims to make Israeli society aware of the everyday abuses of power on which the occupation rests. Shovrim Shtika has gathered hundreds of soldier's testimonies and mounted an exhibition of photographs taken by soldiers in Hebron which was shown in Geneva, the Knesset, and across the United States.

Light one candle for B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories)

An Israeli human rights organization, B'Tselem pressures the Israeli government to protect the human rights of the residents of the Occupied Territories and comply with its obligations under international law. B'Tselem serves as a leading source of information about human rights in the territories, and has issued over 60 publications that have generated extensive media coverage, both in Israel and internationally. It regularly provides Knesset members with information on human rights violations and injustices caused by Israeli authorities. Several Knesset members, from various factions, assist B'Tselem in placing human rights matters on the public agenda.

Light one candle for Women in Black

Founded in Israel in January 1988, Women in Black began as a small group of Israeli women who carried out a simple form of protest: once a week, at the same time and in the same location (a major traffic intersection) they donned black clothing and raised a black sign in the shape of a hand with the words "Stop the Occupation." Their method has since spread worldwide, but the original group perseveres, holding vigils and silent protests across Israel. 

Light one candle for OneVoice

OneVoice is a grassroots movement that seeks to empower ordinary Israeli and Palestinian citizens to wrest the agenda for conflict resolution away from violent extremists. To this end, OneVoice employs cutting edge technology, electronic democracy, a network of member organizations, and a broad cadre of experts, dignitaries, and spiritual leaders. It also educates people about the issues themselves, as well as about non-violent means for conflict resolution.

Light one candle for the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel documents, monitors, and responds to cases of illegal interrogation within Israel, the occupied territories, the Palestinian National Authority and the Israeli-controlled Security Zone in South Lebanon. It also provides legal aid and advocacy to individual victims of torture by filing urgent individual petitions to Israel's Supreme Court of Justice, and by submitting petitions on matters of principle. The Committee also runs educational programs for the public at large, and acts as a legislative watchdog and pressure group, serving as an international resource and clearinghouse for information on the subject.

PCATI has brought about the drafting of key legislation in the Knesset, key court decisions by the Supreme Court, and over the course of its nine years of activity has made torture a subject of national debate. PCATI won a historic victory in 1999 when Israel's Supreme Court ruled in that it was illegal to use "physical pressure" against a detainee during interrogation. This ruling came in response to eight years of continuous activity by PCATI.

Light one candle for Shalom Achshav (Peace Now)
Shalom Achshav is Israel's oldest and largest peace organization. It operates through public campaigns, advertisements, petitions, distribution of educational materials, conferences and lectures, surveys, dialogue groups, street activities, vigils, and demonstrations.

A particularly important ongoing project of Peace Now is its Settlement Watch, which monitors and protests the building of settlements, including housing tenders, expropriation of lands, and budget allocations, along with conducting studies of settler attitudes regarding possible evacuation (and compensation) from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Renowned for their credibility and reliability, the data and maps produced by this project have raised public awareness of the price Israel is paying for these obstacles to peace. 

Light one candle for HaMoked (Center for the Defense of the Individual)

HaMoked is an Israeli organization founded in 1988 to defend human rights in the occupied territories. It has provided assistance to several thousand Palestinian victims of violence, human rights abuses and bureaucratic harassment. HaMoked registers complaints and follows through on them through administrative and legal channels until the matter is successfully resolved. In addition to its individual assistance, HaMoked advocates for human rights at the policy level.

And finally, please light one candle for all of the Israelis and Palestinians who struggle valiantly each day to keep the light of peace burning, and to your yourself, for your personal dedication to work for peace. 

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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