by Diane Balser, Executive Director

It is understandable that most of America's Jewish community was sympathetic to Israel when its soldiers were captured by Hezbollah across its international border. As the war went on, however, American Jewish opinion was not uniform. Some American Jews found themselves in active opposition to the Israeli government's approach to resolving the crisis fearing that a heavy handed militaristic policy would prove counter-productive. We looked on anxiously at the immensity of the destruction. In the end, as we had encouraged, world leaders achieved a diplomatic breakthrough to halt the crisis. With the recent passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, we can only hope that five weeks of bloodshed in northern Israel and Lebanon is now finally over. So where do we go from here?

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, represents more than 34,000 in the American Jewish community for whom Israel's well-being is of paramount importance - and who recognize that right now, the US government must work in coordination with the international community to implement the UN ceasefire and get Israel and her neighbors back on track toward a comprehensive regional settlement. Right now this is the highest form of support for the Israeli people.

I reject and condemn all unprovoked attacks on Israel, and mourn deeply the many Israelis who have been killed to date. Yet it became clear to me that Israel's offensive in Lebanon was far too destructive to be in the country's best interests.

As the civilian death toll mounted and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese were left homeless, Hezbollah's capacity to fire missiles on northern Israel was not diminished. Hezbollah was not pounded into submission. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were internally displaced while many of those that remained lived in bomb shelters for weeks on end. Dozens of the north's residents have been killed. Meanwhile, the people of Lebanon, the Palestinians, as well as Arabs across the region, rallied in support of Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

The simple truth is that from the beginning this war was not winnable. We could have known this from the Israeli experience in the occupied territories. Forty years of militarism against the Palestinians hasn't worked there either. Neither has unilateralism.

The only option left is diplomacy.

A negotiated, two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as Brit Tzedek has been advocating since the height of the al-Aksa intifada is the only solution that will truly bring an end to the violence. It will also remove the purported rationale behind Hezbollah's hostility.

Much progress toward peace has been achieved in the past. The Geneva Accord, the Taba agreement, and the Arab League resolution of 2002 already constitute the fundamental aspects of an eventual two-state solution and the essential ingredients for a comprehensive regional settlement.

What is more, Israel is no stranger to negotiated solutions. It shares long, international borders with both Egypt and Jordan - and because the countries share bi-lateral peace treaties, these borders have been peaceful for years.

Now we need to work to make sure that UNSCR 1701 is a step in the direction of a comprehensive peace. It won't be easy, and it won't be quick, but only a genuine negotiation process will bring an end to decades of horrific carnage in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. And that, whether the US or Israeli governments choose to admit it or not, will depend on a determined and ongoing US diplomatic effort.

We in Brit Tzedek stand for Israel - for that reason, we stand 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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