Brit Tzedek Builds Rabbinic Support
The Letter from American Rabbis to the President spearheaded
by Brit Tzedek, gained the support of nearly 400 American rabbis
across the denominational spectrum. Sent to President Bush on
March 3, 2006, the Letter urged him "to maintain determination
in the face of those who deny Israel's right to exist and, at
the same time, to leave open the door for those Palestinians who
are committed to working for a negotiated, two-state resolution
of this conflict."
The Rabbinic Letter stirred strong responses and received
extensive press nationwide, including four op-eds by rabbinic
signers in the New York Jewish Week, Chicago Jewish News,
Raleigh News and Observer, and Philadelphia Jewish
Exponent. Additionally, 13 articles and several letters to
the editor were published in the US, Israel and Lebanon, in the
Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), Washington Jewish Week, Jerusalem
Post and the Lebanese Daily Star, among other outlets.
Op-Eds by Rabbinic Signers
"Israel's Stake in the
Palestinians" by Rabbi John Friedman. Raleigh
News and Observer, March 21, 2006.
"Use Humanitarian Aid to Bring
Parties Back to the Table" by Rabbi Mordechai
Liebling. Jewish Exponent, March 22, 2006.
"Keep Channels to Hamas
Open" by Rabbi Maralee Gordon. Chicago Jewish
News, April 14, 2006.
"'Israel Lobby' Bad for Israel,
the U.S." by Rabbi Bruce Warshal, St. Louis Jewish
Light, May 10, 2006.
Other Articles About the Rabbinic
"Rabbinical Advice for
Bush" Washington Jewish Week, February 15, 2006.
"Congress Moving Toward Ban on Aid
to Hamas-led PA" by Nathan Gutman. Jerusalem
Post, February 17, 2006.
"Rabbis Press Bush on
Palestinians" JTA, March 6, 2006.
"Bush is Herding Cats in the
Jewish American Community" by William Fisher.
Daily Star, March 8, 2006.
"Washington: Splitting Hairs or
Hair-Raising Splits?" by
Nathan Guttman. Jerusalem Post Internet Edition, March 9,
"Local Rabbis Sign Letter for
Peace" The Jewish Advocate, March 10, 2006.
"Rabbis Collaborate on Letter to
Push Humanitarian Aid to Palestinians" by Joshua
Runyan. Jewish Exponent, March 15, 2006.
"Rabbis Petition Bush to Aid
Palestinians" by Judie Jacobson. Jewish Ledger,
March 16, 2006.
"Divisions on Palestinian
Aid" by James D. Besser Jewish Week, March 24,
"The Rabbis Respond"
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, April 2006.
"The Jewish Response to Hamas
Should Require 'A Clear Sense of Intended
Goal'" The Herald Times, April 2, 2006.
"Pending House and Senate Bills
Cut Aid to PA" by Ted Seifer. Boston Jewish
Advocate, April 10, 2006.
"Rabbis' Letter Stirs Some
Testiness" by Gila Wertheimer. Chicago Jewish
Star, April 7-27, 2006.
"Letter to the Editor"
by Beth Wasserman. Boston Jewish Advocate, April 13,
June National Advocacy Days Planned, June 18-20,
- Opening Plenary by former peace negotiators, Rob Malley and
- Legislative briefings with DC insiders
- In-depth advocacy training
- Personal meetings with your Senators, Representatives, and
- Congressional reception with staffers and Members of
- Pre-Advocacy Days workshops on media and grassroots
Read Complete Agenda and
Registration: $50 /$25 for students or
low-income participants. Registration deadline is June 5, 2006.
Register today online or by fax or post.
Lodging: Brit Tzedek has reserved a block of
rooms at the Doubletree Hotel for a special rate of $159 per
night plus taxes. Make your reservations for the Brit Tzedek
group rate by Friday, May 26 by calling (866) 984-6835 or (202)
232-7000. We also have a limited number of home-stay options
available. Contact Carinne@btvshalom.org for more
Subsidies: Stipends are available to help
subsidize travel and lodging expenses. For more information,
please email Carinne@btvshalom.org by June
Western Regional Conference: "Building Israeli
Palestinian Peace in Uncertain Times"
The conference was a valuable opportunity for networking with
other activists and discussing recent developments in Israel and
in Congress. Keynote speakers Amjad Atallah and Stephen P. Cohen
spoke about the obstacles to reconvening bi-lateral
negotiations. Both the Israeli and Palestinian governments want
calm, argued Atallah, but neither wants negotiations.
Cohen noted that although the new Israeli government has no
interest in negotiations, the Israeli public does, even to the
point of negotiating with Hamas.
The three plenaries [listen here] discussed
the recent elections in both Israel and Palestine and their
implications for future peace-making. Brit Tzedek Executive
Director Diane Balser, in her address entitled, "Building and
Sustaining an American Jewish Peace Movement in Uncertain
Times," explained that, "Either you are passive or you speak
up. We need loud advocacy for the long-term interests of
the Jewish people, and that has to include seeing Jews and
Palestinian living side by side peacefully."
Omar Dajani, University of the Pacific Professor of Law and
former Palestinian negotiator, concluded the conference by
stressing the importance of Brit Tzedek's work in fostering a
climate in which Israelis and Palestinians could return to the
negotiating table, and particularly "convincing other Jews here
and in Israel of the critical importance of negotiation and... a
two-state solution, based on basic principles of justice."
Menachem Klein, former advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoed this conclusion,
saying "What is needed is to put forward an alternative to
unilateralism - unilateralism as a strategy, and unilateralism
as a state of mind."
Chapters Nationwide Hold Discussions on Israeli and
Early in 2006, chapters across the country led the way in
providing educational events regarding Palestinian and Israeli
elections: St. Louis, Ann Arbor, Kansas City, and western
Massachusetts hosted Ha'aretz columnist Akiva Eldar at house
parties; Seattle, Boston, New York, and Chicago brought in
speakers, including former Barak advisor Menachem Klein, Israeli
academic and essayist Bernard Avishai, and Professors Shai
Feldman, Joel Migdal, and Khalil Shikaki. Portland and Austin
hosted local Israeli, Jewish, and Palestinian activists.
Rep. Delahunt Speaks in Martha's Vineyard,
Endorsing Two-State Solution
Members of the Martha's Vineyard chapter attended a panel
discussion at which Congressman William Delahunt, member of the
House International Relations Committee, endorsed a US role in
facilitating a negotiated two-state solution to the
Welcomes New Chapter
Brit Tzedek supporters in Santa Cruz, CA, eager to create an
alternative Jewish voice in their community, have formed an
important new chapter, increasing Brit Tzedek's network to 34
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Helps Stall HR 4681: Palestinian
The good news is in from Washington! The hard work of Brit
Tzedek activists and staff has successfully stalled HR 4681:
Palestinian Sanctions Legislation. Brit Tzedek's star is rising
and has been widely covered in the national and international
Jewish media. Our Washington activities will continue to make
news as we speak out against legislation and policies that we
oppose as a vibrant Pro- Israel organization.
As of now, HR 4681 is officially NOT on the calendar for next
week. That means we have at least another two weeks to keep
putting pressure on our Members of Congress so they know where
we stand if and when the legislation returns to the floor.
The original version of House Bill 4681 contained extremely
restrictive regulations that would have cut all funding to the
Palestinian people and sever all US diplomatic relations with
the Palestinian government, including moderate Palestinians like
President Mahmoud Abbas.
Brit Tzedek's active opposition also played a significant
role in achieving moderation. Our activists let Congress know
that the American Jewish community doesn't monolithically
support legislation which places obstacles in the path to peace,
despite our collective horror at the election of Hamas.
Brit Tzedek Talking Points on
Brit Tzedek Talking Points on S.
By now we have established ourselves in the media and in D.C.
as the prominent Jewish grassroots peace organization, alongside
Americans for Peace Now, and Israel Policy Forum. What
gives us our credibility and our very unique niche is our
Read Press Coverage on Brit Tzedek's Legislative
"Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Action
Alert" posted by John Brown. Jewschool Blog, May 8,
"On Eve of Olmert Visit, Mixed
Signals on Palestinian Aid Confuse Congress" by Ron
Kampeas. JTA, May 9, 2006
"AIPAC Fights Jewish Groups Over
anti-Hamas Legislation" by Nathan Guttman. Jerusalem
Post, May 10, 2006.
"Vote 'No' on Palestinian
Anti-Terrorism Act" by Richard Silverstein. TPM
Café, May 11, 2006,
With your help, Brit Tzedek will continue to oppose HR 4681
and S 2370. If you haven't done so through our online Action
Alert, please contact your
Representative and urge them not to support H.R.
4681. (view list of
cosponsors) Please mention that you are a constituent
and an American Jew. (Find contact information
Rabbinic Cabinet Continues to Grow: Invite Your Rabbi
Under the leadership of Rabbi John Friedman, Brit Tzedek's
Rabbinic Cabinet has continued to grow, now exceeding 100
members nationwide. If you want to invite your Rabbi or Cantor
to join the cabinet, link here to a sample letter giving you
some ideas as to how to approach your community's leaders.
I'm writing today to tell you
about a national Jewish grassroots organization of which I am a
member. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice
and Peace, works to rally support within our community and the
U.S. government for a negotiated two-state solution to the
Brit Tzedek is the
largest grassroots peace organization of American Jews, with a
network of 34,000 supporters and more than 34 active chapters in
cities nationwide. They have provided us with a channel to
convey to our representatives that there is more than one way to
be pro-Israel, and that it is in Israel's best interest to reach
a permanent, mutually acceptable settlement with the
The public support of religious
leaders like you is crucial to spreading this message throughout
the Jewish community. Peace and justice have always been core
principles of our tradition; I know these principles hold a deep
meaning for you. This is why 400 American rabbis recently signed
a letter launched by Brit Tzedek urging President Bush "to
maintain determination in the face of those who deny Israel's
right to exist and, at the same time, to leave open the door for
those Palestinians who are committed to working for a
negotiated, two-state resolution of this
I hope you might consider serving on
Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet. I feel this mission to be an
urgent one -- too many Israelis and Palestinians are living in
fear and despair.
If this appeals to you, visit www.btvshalom.org for more
information. You can direct questions to the Rabbinic
Council Chair John Friedman at email@example.com. I look
forward to hearing from you on this crucial issue.
Membership and Outreach Committee Recruitment
The Membership and Outreach Committee has continued its
efforts to bring American Jews into our network of local and
electronic activism. In addition to our regular electronic
outreach on www.haaretz.com, we advertised more
intensively around the Palestinian elections and on Israeli
election day, we sent an email to 100,000 U.S. subscribers to
the Jerusalem Post listserv and 46,000 subscribers to the Shalom
Center listserv. These efforts culminated in a Pesach email that
went out to another 100,000 U.S. subscribers on the Jpost
listserv, 100,000 on the Ha'aretz listserv and 40,000 on the
Forward listserv. Two thousand new supporters joined our network
as a result.
NEW BRIT TZEDEK
Palestinian Humanitarian Aid:
Vital to Israelis and Palestinians Alike
Implications for the Peace Process
Q and A: 2006 Palestinian
BRIT TZEDEK IN
In addition to press coverage on the letter from American
Rabbis, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom was widely featured in newspapers
from around the US and in Israel.
"The Israel Divestment
Debate" by Hasdai Westbrook. The Nation, May 8, 2006.
"Doing the Math: Hamas' Dilemma in
Context" by David Albert. Jewish Outlook, 2006.
"Spectator - Anchorman in a
Foreign Land" by Avner Hofstein. Los Angeles
Jewish Journal, February 24, 2006.
"CAMERA calls for Brandeis to
investigate professor" by Shayndi Raice. The Jewish
Advocate, February 17, 2006.
"Doing the Math: The Hamas Dilemma
in Context" by Allan Abrams. Jewish Chronicle,
"So Pro-Israel that It
Hurts" by Daniel Levy. Ha'aaretz, March 24,
"Doing the Math on
Hamas" by Gloria Gordon and Diane Balser. The
St. Louis Jewish Light, March 22, 2006.
"Brit Tzedek Goes to Washington:
Grassroots Group Seeking Peace in Israel Opens D.C.
Office" by Eric Fingerhut. Washington Jewish
Week, January 25, 2006.
"Worry Over Lobby
Reform" by James D. Besser. Jewish Week,
January 20, 2006.
Tolerance" by Nathan Guttman. Jerusalem Post,
January 19, 2006.
Brit Tzedek welcomes Ariel Chasnoff, our new Coordinator of
Media and Communications. Ariel has a BA in Communications from
Boston University and is currently completing his Master's
thesis on Syrian Foreign Policy at Tel Aviv University. He
previously worked as a staff reporter for the Jerusalem Post and
as an organizer for Democrats in Israel.
bid farewell to Jessica Rosenblum, former Director of Media and
Communications. Over nearly three years at Brit Tzedek, Jessica
played an important role in developing and delivering our public
message; many of our 34,000 supporters came to first hear of
Brit Tzedek because of the fine work that Jessica did. Brit
Tzedek continues to work with Jessica in her new capacity as
Senior Associate at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications.
Brit Tzedek welcomes part-time office assistants Esperanza
Walczak and Claudia Manischali. Esperanza also works
at the Immigration Services office of the Heartland Alliance for
Human Needs & Human Rights and Claudia is a NYU music and
Changes in Senior Leadership Job Titles
Diane Balser's job title has changed from CEO to Executive
Director. Aliza Becker's job title has changed from
Executive Director to Deputy Director.
Staff Visit Israel and the Occupied
National Grassroots and Chapter Organizer Carinne Luck went
to Israel in January. She spent part of her trip visiting
with Israeli activists, including: Dr. Dan Bar-On, Co-Director
of PRIME (Peace Research Institute in the Middle East);
Gil Shamy, Executive Director of OneVoice-Israel; and Gidon
Bromberg, Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME).
During her stay, she also traced the route of the separation
barrier through Abu Dis with Daniel Seideman, the Executive
Director of Ir Amim.
Brit Tzedek Executive Director Diane Balser and Washington
Representative Rob Levy spent time in Israel and the Palestinian
territories just prior to the March Israeli elections. They met
with many Israeli and Palestinian peace advocates, including:
Akiva Eldar, diplomatic affairs analyst for Ha'aretz; Hagai
Alon, former campaign manager for Amir Peretz; Labor MK Colette
Avital; and Yasser Abed Rabbo, Director of the Palestinian Peace
Coalition, PLO Executive Committee member, and a key negotiator
of the Geneva Accords. Their discussions focused on
Hamas's continued rejection of Israel, Olmert's planned
uncoordinated withdrawal, and the consequences for a a
sustainable, two-state solution.
Brit Tzedek has many opportunities for volunteers.
On the local level, we are always looking for people to become
active in our chapters or to start a new chapter. If you
are interested in learning more about your chapter, email firstname.lastname@example.org If you have
special skills that you think may help us, please email email@example.com Thank