June National Advocacy Days, June 18-20, Washington, D.C.

Join Brit Tzedek for three days of discussions with former peace negotiators, meetings with Senators and Representatives, legislative briefings with top DC insiders and much much more!

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Upcoming Events

San Francisco Bay Area
On Monday May 15, 7:30 pm, at the Berkeley-Richmond JCC, 1414 Walnut Street ,Brit Tzedek welcomes Dan Tsahor of ‘Combatants for Peace’, a collective of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters who now work together for the end of the occupation and all forms of violence. Contact
more information.

On Thursday, May 18, 7:00pm at Beth Emet Synagogue, 1124 Dempster, Evanston, Brit Tzedek will screen “Children of Abraham” followed by a discussion with film director and certified Compassionate Listening facilitator Andrea S. Cohen.
Contact chicago@btvshalom.org for more information.

On Sunday, May 21, 6:00pm, at 3310 NW Franklin Court, Brit Tzedek will screen Segment 1 of Chaim Yavin’s “Land of the Settlers". Contact portland@btvshalom.org for more information.

Los Angeles
On Wednesday, May 24, 7:30 pm, at The Workmen’s Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Brit Tzedek will screen Segment 3 of Chaim Yavin’s “Land of the Settlers” and on Wednesday, June 14, 7:30pm, Brit Tzedek will screen Segment 4 of “Land of the Settlers” co-sponsored by The Workmen's Circle. Contact losangeles@btvshalom.org for more information.

New York City
On Thursday, May 25, 7:00pm, at the at NYU Hillel, Bronfman Center, 7 East 10th Street, Brit Tzedek welcomes Menachim Klein, who will speak on “Prospects for a Negotiated Two-State Solution in Uncertain Times.” Contact carinne@btvshalom.org for more information.

subscribe to Brit Tzedek Online News .
. . .
National News: Executive Director Briefs Senate Staffers in D.C.; Brit Tzedek Builds Rabbinic Support Nationwide; June National Advocacy Days Planned; San Francisco Regional Conference
Chapter News:  Chapters Nationwide Hold Discussions on Israeli and Palestinian Elections; Rep. Delahunt Speaks in Martha's Vineyard, Endorsing Two-State Solution; Brit Tzedek Welcomes New Chapter
Legislative Update: Brit Tzedek Helps Stall HR 4681 and S 2370: Palestinian Sanctions Legislation
Committee News: Rabbinic Cabinet Continues to Grow: Invite Your Rabbi to Join;
Membership and Outreach Committee Recruitment CampaignNew Brit Tzedek Resources: Israeli and Palestinian Elections; Humanitarian Aid; Polls
Brit Tzedek in the News
Staff News: Brit Tzedek Welcomes Ariel Chasnoff and Bids Farewell to Jessica Rosenblum; Changes in Senior Leadership Job Titles; Staff Visit Israel and the Occupied Territories
Volunteer Opportunities


Brit Tzedek Executive Director Briefs Senate Staffers in Washington, D.C.

Washington Representative Rob Levy and Executive Director Diane Balser were on Capital Hill last week for discussions with key Congressional aides. Those in attendance included several Senate foreign affairs staffers from the Senate offices of Lautenberg, Nelson, Levin, and Biden.  All were in agreement regarding the important role filled by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom as a Jewish pro-Israel grassroots group.

A briefing by Executive Director Diane Balser spoke about the role of Congress in developing policies that encourage Hamas to moderate its position towards Israel, protect US national security interests, and lead Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

The meeting also featured Brit Tzedek's recent success in stalling the Palestinian Sanctions Legislation on the House floor (H.R. 4681). The staffers in turn confirmed the belief that many Senators may have cosponsored the Senate version of the bill, S. 2370, knowing that it would be revised in the process. None of the staffers knew the exact schedule of the bill, but expected it to reach Senate discussion at some point, possibly attached to a foreign appropriations bill, and perhaps, hopefully, with further improvements. 

Brit Tzedek Builds Rabbinic Support Nationwide

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 Letter

"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, 2006.

"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, 2006.

"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, 2006.

June National Advocacy Days Planned, June 18-20, Washington D.C.

  • Opening Plenary by former peace negotiators, Rob Malley and Amjad Atallah
  • Legislative briefings with DC insiders
  • In-depth advocacy training
  • Personal meetings with your Senators, Representatives, and their staffers
  • Congressional reception with staffers and Members of Congress
  • Pre-Advocacy Days workshops on media and grassroots organizing

Read Complete Agenda and Register

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 information.

Subsidies: Stipends are available to help subsidize travel and lodging expenses. For more information, please email Carinne@btvshalom.org by June 9.

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 Palestinian Elections

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 Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Brit Tzedek 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 chapters nationwide.


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Helps Stall HR 4681: Palestinian Sanctions Legislation

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 H.R. 4681
Brit Tzedek Talking Points on S. 2370

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 grassroots base.

Read Press Coverage on Brit Tzedek's Legislative Success:

"Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Action Alert" posted by John Brown. Jewschool Blog, May 8, 2006.
"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 here).


Rabbinic Cabinet Continues to Grow: Invite Your Rabbi to Join

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.

Dear Rabbi/Cantor,
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 Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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 Palestinians.
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 conflict."
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 rabbifriedman@btvshalom.org. I look forward to hearing from you on this crucial issue.


Membership and Outreach Committee Recruitment Campaign

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.


Palestinian Humanitarian Aid: Vital to Israelis and Palestinians Alike

Palestinian Elections: Implications for the Peace Process

Q and A: 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary Elections

Israeli Polls

Palestinian Polls

Jewish American Polls


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, February 10, 2006.                  

"So Pro-Israel that It Hurts" by Daniel Levy.  Ha'aaretz, March 24, 2006.

"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.

"Approaching Zero 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.
We also 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 English student.

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 Territories

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 chapter@btvshalom.org  If you have special skills that you think may help us, please email info@btvshalom.org Thank you.

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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