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Upcoming Events

Chicago

On Monday, August 28, 7:30 pm, at Kam Isaiah Israel Congregation, 1100 E Hyde Park Blvd, Brit Tzedek Executive Director (ED) Diane Balser will give a talk on

“Is Peace Possible?” preceded by a chapter dinner at 6 pm. Please RSVP for dinner (Middle Eastern vegetarian food) to aliza@btvshalom.org.

New York City

Jewzapalooza!! On September 17, the NYC chapter of Brit Tzedek and the NYC chapter Young Adults program will host an information table at the Jewish Music and Heritage Festival from 10:00 am-8:00 pm. The day will include Jewish food, clothes, music, and much more. To help with the table or with our concession stand, contact nyc@btvshalom.org

San Francisco Bay Area

On September 10, 2006, join the SF Bay chapter at an information table at the Solano Stroll Street Festival in Berkeley.  This large street fair usually draws tens of thousands from the Jewish community. Contact sf-bayarea@btvshalom.org to sign up for a time slot between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.

On September 25, 2006, 4:30 pm, at Grand Lake Theatre, 3200 Grand Ave, Oakland, join the SF Bay chapter for a screening of “Encounter Point”, the true story about the everyday leaders who refuse to sit back as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates. Event sponsored by Just Vision.

Los Angeles

On September 23, October 11 & November 8, 2006, at The Workmen’s Circle - 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles – join the LA chapter for a screening of the film “Encounter Point,” the true story about the everyday leaders who refuse to sit back as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates. This event will be co-sponsored with The Workmen’s Circle. A $5 donation is requested; refreshments will be served. For more information please call 310-552-2007.

Upcoming National Tour:

This fall Brit Tzedek will be sponsoring the nation-wide tour of ‘Combatants for Peace’.  Stay tuned for more details.

More Chapter Info

Chapters across the country continue to meet and act locally. For information on chapter activity in your community, contact chapter@btvshalom.org  If you would like to organize a chapter in your area, contact Carinne Luck, Director of Grassroots and Chapter Development: carinne@btvshalom.org; 212-366-1670.
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 National News: Brit Tzedek Responds to Mideast Crisis; Second Annual National Advocacy Days Convenes in D.C.; Bush-Olmert Letter Delivered in-Person
 Chapter News:  Nationwide Dialogue on Mideast Crisis; Chapters Tell Bush: Ceasefire Now; Rallying For Israel, Spreading Our Message
 Legislative Update: Congressional Resolutions on Mideast Crisis and Update on Palestinian Sanctions Bill
 Committee News: Membership and Outreach Committee Recruitment Campaign
 New Brit Tzedek Resources: Mideast Crisis Resource Page; Townhall Conference Calls; Suggested Activities in Israel
 Brit Tzedek in the News
 Staff News: New Executive Director is Hired
 Volunteer Opportunities
 Paid Opportunity: National office seeks Office Manager

NATIONAL NEWS

Brit Tzedek Responds to Crisis in Middle East

Since the outbreak and escalation of hostilities first in Gaza, and then on the Israel-Lebanon border, Brit Tzedek consistently called on the US government to respond with more aggressive diplomacy to end the crisis.  On August 1, a letter from Brit Tzedek's grassroots base urged President Bush to pursue an immediate ceasefire, intelligent diplomacy that addresses all outstanding issues between the warring parties, and renewed support for the democratic Lebanese government. 

Efforts to provide timely analysis and information on the crisis have been continuous as well.  Brit Tzedek's townhall conference calls with top policy makers, analysts, and activists, including Daniel Levy, James Zogby, Stephen Cohen, Arik Ascherman, Naomi Chazan, and Yossi Beilin, have been a source of invaluable insight and in-depth understanding into the evolving US role in the Middle East. 

Brit Tzedek hopes that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 is a first step in returning to a diplomatic track for the resolution of all outstanding issues and the achievement of a comprehensive Middle East peace.  We continue to advocate for the US government to remain dedicated to the implementation of the ceasefire and all its provisions, and to serve as a broker for a wider Middle East settlement.

Second Annual National Advocacy Days Held in Washington, D.C.

For three days in June 100 activists from all across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to take part in Brit Tzedek's second annual National Advocacy Days.  From June 18-20, 100 participants heard from experts, mingled with D.C. insiders, trained to be effective advocates, and conveyed the Brit Tzedek message to 65 Congressional offices.

National Advocacy Days was an important opportunity for Brit Tzedek's grassroots to converge on our nation's capital and shape the conversation on Capital Hill regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Our pro-Israel, pro-Peace message was acknowledged by scores of Congressional representatives, and won outspoken praise from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR), Rep. Betty McCollum (MI), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) at the Brit Tzedek Congressional reception.  Additionally, National Advocacy Days generated much attention in local and national media.  For the full Report on National Advocacy Days 2006 please visit our website.  For press coverage please see below.

Press Coverage of National Advocacy Days

"Peace Prospects May Look Bleak, but Dovish Group Still Pushes Talks" by David Silverman, JTA, June 27, 2006

"Urging New Talks" by Eric Fingerhut, Washington Jewish Week, June 22, 2006

"Taking a Poke at AIPAC" by James D. Besser, The Jewish Week, June 23, 2006

Executive Director Hand Delivers Bush-Olmert Letter

On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to President Bush on May 23, Brit Tzedek Executive Director Diane Balser hand delivered an open letter addressed to both leaders at a meeting between Administration officials and American Jewish leaders.  The letter encouraged the President and Prime Minister Olmert to return to the path of negotiations with Palestinian moderates such as Mahmoud Abbas for the sake of a two-state solution.

"A negotiated, two-state solution is still ultimately the only path to reaching a complete end to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict," stated the letter. "Only negotiated borders will be respected by all parties and lead to security and a lasting peace."

Leaders in the American Jewish community, including Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Susannah Heschel, and former White House chief of staff Abner Mikva. signed on to the letter, which was handed by Balser in person to Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Elliot Abrams, Hadley's deputy. 

Press Coverage of Bush-Olmert Letter

"Olmert Seen Not Seeking Aid" James D. Besser, New York Jewish Week, May 19, 2006

"Jewish Alliance appeals for negotiations" JTA Breaking News

"US Jewish Group Appeals for Israel-PA Talks" Ynetnews, May 15, 2006

CHAPTER NEWS

Chapters Nationwide Facilitate Dialogue on Mideast Crisis

As violence escalated in Israel, Lebanon, and the occupied territories, Brit Tzedek's grassroots members acted to provide their communities with open-dialogue and comprehensive resources on the developing crisis. Many members across the country opened their homes as a forum where community members could learn about the situation and share their thoughts and feelings in a safe and respectful environment.

Several members of our Rabbinic Cabinet and Brit Tzedek leaders have given talks and facilitated open discussions about "the situation" in their synagogues.  The Brit Tzedek Los Angeles chapter co-sponsored a public forum with Americans for Peace Now (APN) and Progressive Jewish Alliance that brought out over 300 attendees.  Speakers included Brit Tzedek President Marcia Freedman, alongside APN's Arthur Stern, and Prof. David Meyers, Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.

Many chapters have organized gatherings to listen to Brit Tzedek townhall conference calls, followed by discussion and local program planning.  In those areas without chapters, Brit Tzedek has been supporting the creation of networks for people to come together and discuss the current Mideast crisis.
  
Brit Tzedek Chapters Urge Bush to Seek Ceasefire

In response to a Brit Tzedek Action Alert, members and supporters throughout the country appealed directly to President Bush to seek an immediate ceasefire to the Middle East crisis.  In a campaign that began August 1, activists wrote that, "Now is the time for the US government, in concert with the international community, to achieve a real and immediate multi-lateral ceasefire - followed by intense diplomacy to return the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, stop the rocket attacks on Israel, end the Israeli air strikes and ground incursions in Lebanon and Gaza, and install an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon."

The recent passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 has brought hostilities between Israel and Lebanon to a tense halt.  This UN ceasefire embodies many of the most important points advocated by Brit Tzedek, and constitutes an important step forward.  Thank you to all those who joined us in bringing about this long-overdue ceasefire!  

Local Chapters Rally in Support of Israel, Spread Brit Tzedek Message

Brit Tzedek chapters from Rhode Island to Los Angeles and from Western Massachusetts to Seattle participated in Jewish community rallies.  Wearing Brit Tzedek t-shirts and carrying signs with our message, our chapters were seen as an alternative pro-Israel voice at the height of the Mideast crisis.

Brit Tzedek chapters were covered in the local and national media across the country. Our Philadelphia chapter was filmed by Fox News during a local Jewish community rally.  Leadership of our Boston, Washington, DC and Seattle chapters were quoted during their community rallies. The Boston chapter was also on the New England Cable News Network.

Many of our activists have also taken up the call to write Letters to the Editor, in both the Jewish and national press, engaging readers with our message for an immediate ceasefire in papers across the country.  See below for a list of articles and television segments highlighting Brit Tzedek chapter activity.

Media Coverage of Brit Tzedek's Grassroots Activity and Letters to the Editor

"Seattle-Area Jews Rally in Solidarity with Israel" by Daniel Levisohn, JT News, August 4, 2006

Fox News covers Brit Tzedek's message at the Philadelphia Israel solidarity rally -Video,
Fox News July 24, 2006

New England Cable News Interview with Beth Wasserman of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Boston News Night - Video, July 2006 (Use your browser's search function and search for "Beth Wasserman.")

"Israel Crisis Prompts Cry from Boston Community" by Jacob Sugerman, Boston Jewish Advocate, July 20, 2006

"Israel Gets Some Local Backing" by Charles A. Radin, Boston Globe, July 19, 2006

"Lonely Voices: A few dissenting Jews question Israel's actions" by Paula Amann, Washington Jewish Week, July 27, 2006

"Deep-Seated Problems Continue to Defy Solutions" by Allan Abrams, Kansas City Star, August 7, 2006

"Rallying for Peace" by Beth Wasserman, Boston Jewish Advocate, July 27, 2006

"A Voice for Peace" by Joel Glick, Jewish Review, July 15, 2006

"It Takes Two" by Allan Abrams, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, July 7, 2006

"Hopes for Bush-Olmert Summit" by Rebecca Budner, Jewish Review, June 1, 2006

"Peace Must Be Negotiated" by Joel Glick, The Oregonian, May 30, 2006

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Before adjourning for recess at the beginning of August, Congress was very active around the Mideast crisis.  Both the House and Senate passed nearly identical resolutions condemning Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran and unconditionally supporting Israel's right to self-defense. The senate resolution, S.Res.534, passed by unanimous consent, and the House resolution, H.Res.921, passed by a vote of 410-8 (with 4 voting present and 10 not voting).  You can see the roll call vote here.

In the House, several positive resolutions were introduced just before recess, but not voted on, that call for increased US engagement towards resolving the crisis.  H. Con. Res. 450, introduced by Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) calls for a cease-fire and multi-party negotiations, H. Res. 955, introduced by Rep. Farr (D-CA) calls for "sustainable peace in the Middle East" and H. Res. 954, introduced by Rep. Leach (R-IA) urges the President to appoint a special Middle East envoy.

In the Senate, Senators Dodd (D-CT), Levin (D-MI), and Sununu (R-NH) introduced S.Res.548, a significantly more comprehensive resolution than the earlier S.Res.534.  The bill, which passed by unanimous consent on August 3, condemned Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, but also urged the US and the international community to work towards a "cessation of hostilities" based on the return of Israeli soldiers, the disarming of Hezbollah, and the installation of an international stabilization force in southern Lebanon.  It further included a call for an international donors conference to solicit funds for the rebuilding of Lebanon and urged the US to remain actively engaged to promote peace and security in the Middle East.

Several Members also wrote excellent letters to President Bush urging greater leadership to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, including one letter written by Rep. David Price (D-NC), in consultation with Brit Tzedek, and signed by Reps. Filner (D-CA), Capps (D-CA) and Leach (R- IA).  Their letter concluded, "We urge you to act now to prevent the unnecessary loss of additional lives by committing to a long-term U.S. diplomatic engagement in the region, beginning with a call for an immediate ceasefire." 

Finally, the Palestinian sanctions bill, (H.R.4681/S.2370), which passed at the beginning of the summer, has yet to go to conference committee, where the significant differences between the House and Senate versions still need to be ironed out.  It is unclear whether the recent crisis in Lebanon will put new pressure to move the legislation forward once Congress returns after Labor Day or render the bill completely irrelevant.

COMMITTEE NEWS

National Membership and Outreach Committee Conducts Internet Campaign

In order to maximize the impact of Brit Tzedek's "Ceasefire Now! Return the Israeli Soldiers" campaign, which included two action alerts directed to President Bush, the membership and outreach committee launched a complementary internet campaign that ran on the Ha'aretz English language and the New York Times websites.  This was made possible, in part, by the generosity of Arnold Hiatt of the Stride Rite Foundation. 

As a result of this effort, several hundred new supporters sent messages to the President asking for an immediate multilateral ceasefire, and many of these respondents asked to become more active in their chapter, leading to the formation of new hubs of activity in San Diego, Fort Worth, TX and Ames, IA.

These mass outreach efforts have been supplemented by more personal one-on-one efforts in the many local communities where Brit Tzedek has a presence. Through the many activities of our chapters, hundreds of additional new supporters have been brought into our midst.

To volunteer on the National Membership and Outreach Committee, please contact chair, Donna Spiegelman at donna@btvshalom.org


NEW BRIT TZEDEK RESOURCES

The Brit Tzedek website has become an important asset for those seeking a comprehensive source of information. Our "Mideast crisis action steps" includes tips for educating others, advocating for a peaceful resolution to the current violence, and standing up for peace in the Jewish community.  Our regularly updated resource page provides up-to-date news, organizational statements, opinions and commentary on the continuing crisis, and links to our recent townhall conference calls.  Finally, a list has been compiled for those seeking peace-building related activities while visiting Israel.

Summer 2006 Mideast Crisis Resources

Town Hall Conference Calls with Mideast Experts
 
Mideast Crisis Action Steps

Activities Sponsored by Israeli Peace and Coexistence Organizations

BRIT TZEDEK IN THE NEWS

In addition to press coverage on our National Advocacy Days and grassroots activity, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom was widely featured in newspapers from around the US and in Israel.   

"West Coast Murder Puts Boston Jews on High Alert" by Jacob Sugerman, The Jewish Advocate, August 3, 2006

"Some Liberal Jews Break Ranks on Israel" by Jonathan Tilove, Newhouse News, August 3, 2006

"For Local Jews, Strong Support for Israel but Questions Remain" by Irene Sege, The Boston Globe, August 2, 2006

"The Liberals' Dilemma" by James D. Besser, New York Jewish Week, July 28, 2006

"Marshalling The Pro-Israel Forces" by James D. Besser, New York Jewish Week, July 21, 2006

"Peace Movement Urges Cease-Fire" JTA News, July 21, 2006

"From "Crisis in Israel 2006: Take action"" by Barbara Bayer, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, July 21, 2006

"A Beautiful Friendship?" by Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, July 16, 2006

"Senate Approves Hamas Bill" by Nathan Guttman, Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2006

"Frank Purdue School of Foreign Affairs" by David Twersky, New York Sun, June 2, 2006

"Effort to Limit Aid to Palestinians Exposes Rifts in Congress, Community" by Ron Kampeas, JTA News, May 30, 2006

"Olmert, Cheered in D.C., Bows to U.S. Call for Talks Opponents Move To Sink Unilateral Plan" by Ori Nir, The Forward, May 26, 2006

"Seattleites Exposed to Two Views of Israeli Politics" by Manny Frishberg, JT News, May 26, 2006

"Bush Backs Olmert on Pullout Plan" by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, May 24, 2006

"Mideast under Lens Olmert, Bush to Grapple with "Convergence"" by Ron Kampeas, Washington Jewish Week, May 19, 2006

"In Initial Meeting, Olmert and Bush To Look at the Big Picture, not Details" by Ron Kampeas, JTA News, May 16, 2006

"AIPAC fights Jews groups over anti-Hamas legislation" by Nathan Guttman, Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2006

"On eve of Olmert visit, mixed signals on Palestinian aid confuse Congress" by Ron Kampeas, JTA News, May 9, 2006

STAFF NEWS

New Executive Director Joins Brit Tzedek in August

Diane Cantor feels immeasurably honored to be selected as executive director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom after a national search involving many candidates.  "Without knowing it," she says, "I think I have been preparing for this job throughout my life."  For over twenty-five years, Cantor has worked in direct service and advocacy in organizations, first as a staffer and then in progressively more responsible roles in non-profit management.  Her most recent positions include nine years as executive director of Savannah's Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity and four years as elected president of the Savannah Chatham County Board of Education, serving 35,000 students.

Cantor is a native Atlantan who has also lived in New York City and is never long without a dog.  Her children are sixteen and twenty-one, and she has been married to Tom Echols for almost twenty-eight years.  Her favorite quote is "Justice, justice, only justice shalt thou pursue..." which she looks at every day walking out her front door.   Diane believes these words are intrinsic to the hopes and mission of Brit Tzedek.  She looks forward to getting to know and working in partnership with the organization's talented and dedicated volunteers, board and staff.     

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

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.

PAID OPPORTUNITY

Brit Tzedek's national office is seeking a full-time Office Manager to oversee daily office operations.  Responsibilities will include overseeing the administrative and technology functions of Brit Tzedek's national office, including the maintaining of the member management/fundraising and advocacy databases, daily office communications, mailings and purchases for Brit Tzdek's national office in Chicago. 

Please see the job announcement on our website for more information.


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
info@btvshalom.org
www.btvshalom.org


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