[BTvS Detroit] To Members and Supporters of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
TO MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF BRIT TZEDEK V'SHALOM -- JEWISH
ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE:
This is an absolutely crucial time in the Middle East. To end
nearly six decades of war, moderates must work for substantive
negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Brit
Tzedek's role is to encourage our congressional representatives
and the Administration to take an active role in the peace
process. You can help. Brit Tzedek is organizing a HOME DISTRICT
ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN for the 110th Congress. Our goal is to meet
with newly elected and/or re-elected Members of Congress to
introduce ourselves and present our message. We will be setting
up meetings with congressional representatives in our area
beginning the week of November 13 through mid-December. We are
preparing information packets and talking points and will
shortly be asking you to sign up to participate in these
In January and February, Brit Tzedek will be sponsoring a
national tour of members of "Combatants for Peace". This is a
group of Israeli and Palestinian individuals who were actively
involved in the cycle of violence. The Israelis served as combat
soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinians were
involved in acts of violence in the name of Palestinian
liberation. They no longer believe that the conflict can be
resolved through violence, and call for the establishment of a
Palestinian State, alongside the State of Israel.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR E-MAIL FOR THE DETAILS OF THE UPCOMING
ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN AND COMBATANTS FOR PEACE TOUR.
For those of you who are not yet members of Brit Tzedek, we urge
you to sign up now. You may do so, by going to the Brit Tzedek
web site and clicking "Join Brit Tzedek" on the left side of the
The web site: www.btvshalom.org
If you should want more information about Brit Tzedek, and would
like to become more active, please call me at
248 661 2641.
Two-state solution ASAP only chance for peace
By Steve Masters and Diane Balser
Lebanon held the world's headlines for much of the summer as
Hezbollah and Israel waged sudden, furious battle. On the
strength of the internationally brokered cease-fire that brought
a halt to the violence, Israel has now withdrawn the last of its
troops and the world is holding its breath, hoping the
cease-fire is sustainable.
But in the meantime, the Gaza Strip has continued to fester and
collapse, seemingly forgotten. The situation in Gaza has been
deplorable since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in August 2005,
its population suffering from hunger and growing desperation.
Late spring saw further deterioration and an escalation in the
During a June 25 attack on an Israeli army base, two soldiers
were killed and Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured.
Since that time, Gazans have been subjected to repeated Israeli
attempts to combat terrorism, resulting in enormous loss of life
and damage to the area's infrastructure. Newspaper readers know,
for instance, that the war in Lebanon led to the deaths of more
than 850 Lebanese and 150 Israelis, combatants and civilians.
How many know that since June 25, more than 240 Palestinians,
combatants and civilians, have been killed by the Israel Defense
Meanwhile, Qassam rockets have continued to be launched into
southern Israel -- far fewer in recent weeks, but still a source
of fear and tension for those living within the rockets' range.
Despite an iron-fisted response to the Hamas attack and reports
of a possible prisoner exchange, Shalit remains in his captors'
Most critically, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has gone
from awful to far worse. The New York Times reported earlier
this month that "it is difficult to exaggerate the economic
collapse of Gaza," and Jan Egeland, the United Nations
undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, called Gaza "a ticking
Gaza's economy, health care and social services are near
collapse, and there are growing signs of malnutrition. Sixty
percent of the population is without electricity, due to
Israel's bombing of Gaza's only power station.
Border crossings have been open for only a few days over the
past several months, leading to drastic shortages in basic human
necessities: hospital supplies, essential medicines and food.
Seventy-nine percent of households are now subsisting below the
poverty line, and the World Bank forecasts that if the current
situation persists, 2006 may be the worst year in Palestinian
As American Jews for whom Israel's well-being is of paramount
importance, we find it impossible to believe that these
circumstances will lead to Israel's security or help bring about
a lasting peace. While it is understandable that we focused our
attention on Lebanon for many weeks, we now call on the U.S.
government and international community to dedicate the resources
employed in achieving the Hezbollah-Israel cease-fire to address
the looming disaster in Gaza and work toward reviving
negotiations for a two-state resolution to the
First and foremost, the United States must work with Israel and
the international community to open the border crossings on a
regular basis to ensure receipt of desperately needed
humanitarian supplies and the establishment of a functioning
economy. Indeed, the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, reported early
this month that the U.S. Security Coordinator, Lt. Gen. Keith
Dayton, told a group of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders
that "without the restoration of commercial activity, there will
be no security in the area."
The possible formation of a Palestinian unity government may
allow for the resumption of direct aid to the Palestinian
Authority but seeing to it that more Palestinians get enough to
eat and can meet their basic medical needs will not be enough.
Ha'aretz columnist Gidon Levy said of Israeli actions: "There is
a horror taking place in Gaza, and while it might prevent a few
terror attacks in the short run, it is bound to give birth to
much more murderous terror."
The only thing that can bring a final resolution of the
conflict, creating economic stability for Palestinians and
Israelis alike, as well as the longed-for end to the violence,
is a negotiated, two-state solution.
Now that the cease-fire is in place and Israeli troops have left
Lebanon, the international community, led by the United States,
must turn its attention to Gaza. Continuing to ignore the
problem will not make it go away. On the contrary, if the crisis
is not addressed soon, Palestinians and Israelis alike will pay
dearly as the peace process is further delayed.
Steve Masters and Diane Balser are the chair and co-chair of
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's national advocacy committee. Brit Tzedek
v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, is a
national grass-roots movement more than 35,000 strong that
educates and mobilizes American Jews in support of a negotiated
two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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