A Message of
by Diane Balser, Outgoing Executive
It has been a real pleasure to
have served as the Executive Director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
this past year.
The struggle to achieve a just peace between
Israel and the Palestinians is one which has always been deeply
important to me, and I have been an active volunteer leader in
Brit Tzedek almost from its inception. I'm grateful to have had
this opportunity to lead the organization and play a more public
role in the effort, and look forward to continuing in a
volunteer leadership capacity in the organization, particularly
I came into this position just before the
implementation of Gaza Disengagement, and am leaving just after
the UN Ceasefire that brought a halt to the second Lebanon War.
The year between was marked by enormous upheaval for Israelis
and Palestinians alike, with barely a day of rest as Brit Tzedek
and the rest of the US peace community has continued to respond.
I have a real sense of pride in our organization and what we
have been able to build as a team together.
The goal of Brit Tzedek is, as it has always been,
to influence US foreign policy in order
to vigorously promote a negotiated, two-state settlement to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During this tumultuous year,
as in the past, we have been able to take consistently current
and principled stands around all the many crucial events that
have unfolded and to win over growing numbers to our positions.
From the struggle over disengagement, through the violence in
Gaza, and up to the recent war in Lebanon, we offered a home to
those American Jews who are pro-Israel -- but cannot believe
that continued force will solve Israel's problems.
Despite -- or possibly because of -- the
difficulties of the current situation and painful hostilities of
the summer, we continue to grow our grassroots base. A growing
number of American Jews see the importance of solving both the
larger Middle East crises and the critical Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, and are choosing to join our efforts.
There have been a number of significant
developments in our organization this year:
By creating a Washington DC office and
hiring a Washington Representative, we have firmly established
ourselves as a strong, visible presence in the nation's capital,
and along with our peace community allies, are demonstrating
with our words and deeds that the American Jewish community has
many voices, many ways to express concern for Israel and its
The effectiveness of our Washington office
is dependent on the effectiveness of our grassroots, and over
the past year we have seen growth in both the numbers and
sophistication of our chapter activists. Through their work --
organizing on a local level, writing letters to the editor of
their local papers, meeting with their legislators and staff,
and communicating Brit Tzedek's message to the local Jewish
communities -- they create the solid base necessary for building
a viable presence among the nation's policy makers.
Our media presence has increased
exponentially with the assistance of Rabinowitz-Dorf
Communicatoins, as well as the volunteer efforts of chapter
activists in writing letters to the editor and submitting op-eds
to their local papers. The importance of this cannot be
overestimated -- quite simply, these efforts provide the path
for those who are searching for a new way to express their
support for Israel.
Though we are rightly proud of our successes to
date, there is still much to do.
There are many obstacles to peace but also fresh
opportunities. The war in Lebanon and its aftermath, with the
ongoing conflict in Gaza and the West Bank, sets the context for
the present situation. Difficulties have heightened and there
has been tragic loss of life, but we must not lose sight of the
important possibilities that have emerged.
The Lebanon War effectively "regionalized" the
conflict, allowing for the possibility of a long-term,
comprehensive settlement, not only between Israel and the
Palestinians, but between Israel and the Arab nations with which
it does not yet have peace agreements. The
Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains, of course, at the crux of
these developments, and we must continue to push for its
Getting from where we are to such a settlement
won't be easy. It needs to start with simple diplomatic
initiatives backed by the United States and the international
community, and will require a change in US foreign policy. This,
however, is the only real hope we have of ending the bloodshed.
With such a settlement could come the realization of the Jewish
and Israeli dream -- a secure Israel living in peace and
cooperation with its Arab neighbors.
What we need to do:
We need to expand our base, to gain the support
and involvement of greater numbers of American Jews.
We need to develop our message and aggressively
bring it to as many people as possible, to communicate the
notion that a negotiated two-state resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only viable chance for a
We must vigorously organize our voice effectively
as American Jews, to reach decision makers and change minds --
Most importantly, we must remain true to our
mission and principles, despite any future challenges of
escalating violence or official intransigence.
I am grateful and proud to have served as your
Executive Director. Thanks to the very talented staff of Brit
Tzedek v'Shalom who I enjoyed working with
tremendously: Aliza Becker, Deputy Director; Carinne Luck,
Director of Grassroots and Chapter Development; Rob Levy,
Washington Representative; and the many other hardworking staff
and consultants. Thanks to the excellent volunteer leadership of
Brit Tzedek, particularly Marcia Freedman, our president. I look
forward to working with our new Executive Director, Diane
Cantor. I know that she will bring a lot to this
Thank you for all your efforts. One person, one
conversation, one changed mind at a time -- this is the work of
Brit Tzedek. Without you, it couldn't happen.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206
Donate:Help build on Brit Tzedek's success.
Share this message:Tell others about Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.
Receive regular updates:Click if you received this message from a
friend, and would like to get regular updates from Brit Tzedek
to see our website.
This message was sent to . Visit your subscription management page to modify your email communication preferences or update your personal profile. Click here (or reply via email with "remove" in the subject line) to remove yourself from ALL email lists maintained by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.