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Upcoming Events

National Grassroots Leadership Training Institute and Advocacy Days, June 16-19, Washington, D.C.

Join Brit Tzedek for grassroots leadership training, meetings with Senators and Representatives, legislative briefings with top DC insiders and much, much more!

Upcoming Chapter Events

Albany
On Sunday April 22, at Magnesses, 3 Linda Lane, Schenectady, NY – off of Old Valley and Valley Roads, Discussion on current Israeli-Palestinian situation and presentation by Ethan Bloch. Contact Jack Alexander for more information.

Ann Arbor
On April 24, 7:30pm, in the Lower Level "Core" at Temple Beth Emet, 2309 Packard, Ann Arbor, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom presents a talk by Aaron Ahuvia, on "The Psychology of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." For more information contact Aaron Ahuvia.

Boston
On Thursday April 19, 7:00, at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Meeting on Lets Talk: “Building our Movement by Learning to Build Relationships in Our Community.” Talk and training by Brit Tzedek Activists Steve Vogel and Jonathan Jacoby. Contact Brit Tzedek's Boston Chapter for more information.
 
On May 10, at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA, Senior Fellow and Director of Middle East Initiatives at the Centrury Foundation and New America Foundation, Daniel Levy and Executive Director of the American Task Force on Palestine, Rafi Dajani will present: “Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Forget It, or Not Just Yet?”  Co-Sponsored by JCRC and Temple Beth Zion. For more information, contact Brit Tzedek's Boston Chapter, or 617-230-6439.
 
Chicago
On May 6, 3:00pm, at the home of board member Ivan Handler, in Evanston, IL.  A “Let’s Talk” House Party. Contact Brit Tzedek'sChicago Chapter for more information.  

Los Angeles
On May 16, 7:00pm at the Workmen’s Circle LA, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom presents a viewing of the film, the Iron Wall. Email Claire Gorfinkel for more information.  


New York
On April 27, 8:15pm at the Union Temple, 17 Eastern Parkway, New York, Brit Tzedek presents “Let’s Talk!”, a discussion on a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with chapter leader Ben Murane and Brit Tzedek Director of Chapter and Grassroots Development, Carinne Luck. Contact Ben Murane for more information.

Philadelphia
On May 15, 7:00-9:00pm, at the Friends Center, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, discussion on "The Two State Solution: Still Possible?" Discussion will feature the national chair of Brit Tzedek's Advocacy Committee, Diane Balser, Senior fellow at Institute for Palestine Studies, Nadia Hijab and writer, analyst and activist, Phyllis Bennis. Event is free and open to the public. For more information Adam Horowitz or call 215-241-7874

Rhode Island
On Tuesday April 24, 7:00pm at Temple Beth El, 70 Orchard Avenue, Providence, Israeli foreign policy expert and negotiator Daniel Levy will speak on the topic “A Personal Take on How to Be Pro-Israel.” Contact Philip Rosen for more information.
 
San Francisco – Bay Area
On Sunday April 22, 2:30 – 4:30pm at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont, Brit Tzedek presents Poetry and Music of the Middle East with poets Aurora Levins Morales and Lenore Weiss and musician Paul Kirk. Contact Brit Tzedek's Bay Area Chapter   or call 510-891-7197 for more information.
 

Seattle
On April 22, 9:30am – 12:30pm, at Sand Point Education Center, 6208 60th Avenue NE, Seattle, Brit Tzedek sponsors a Progressive Celebration of Israel with Art, Music, Food and Learning. Contact Brit Tzedek's Seattle Chapter or call 206-547-3914 ext. 2 for more information.

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 National News: 2007 National Grassroots Leadership Institute & Advocacy Days and Sponsorship Opportunities; "Let's Talk" Campaign Advances!; Combatants Tour a Resounding Success
 Chapter News:  Bloomington Chapter Organizes Panel on "The Perils of Jewish Identity"; "Lets Talk" House Parties in Full Swing
 Legislative Update: Small Success on Nelson-Ensign letter; Mideast Envoy Resolution Introduced; New Palestinian Sanctions Bill Falters; Speaker Pelosi Travels to Syria
 Committee News: Membership and Outreach Committee Brings "Let's Talk" Message to Bloggers
 New Brit Tzedek Resources: Palestinian Resources, Israeli Resources
 Brit Tzedek in the News
 Staff News: New Chapter and Grassroots Development Assistant Hired

 
NATIONAL NEWS

2007 National Grassroots Leadership Institute & Advocacy Days and Sponsorship Opportunities

Brit Tzedek is gearing up for our second National Grassroots Leadership Institute and our third National Advocacy Days, in Washington, DC, this June 16-19.  We encourage you to join us for this important opportunity to meet Brit Tzedek's leadership, network with chapter activists, and most crucially, to bring Brit Tzedek's message directly to our nation's decision-makers.

If you cannot attend but would like to be involved, we offer sponsorship opportunities providing scholarships for those members whose finances might preclude attending. Likewise, we would welcome you as a sponsor for our annual Congressional Reception.

Read the Agenda
Register
Congressional Reception Sponsorship
Scholarship Fund

"Let's Talk" Campaign Advances!

Dialogue is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. -Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), after returning from Syria.

Since the launch of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's "Let's Talk" campaign, thousands of American Jews have called on the US Administration to make Arab-Israeli peacemaking a priority. And diplomatic progress has been made:

  • Secretary Rice has re-engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, beginning the kind of shuttle diplomacy long absent from the Bush Administration.
  • The Arab League has again unanimously endorsed the Saudi Peace Initiative, offering Israel normal relations with the Arab states for a return to the '67 borders. (The Saudi Initiative was first endorsed in 2002.)
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and a bi-partisan delegation of Representatives, traveled to Syria to discuss Israeli-Syrian peace.

We cannot let these opportunities fall by the wayside. We must demand continued US diplomatic engagement to bring Israel to the negotiating table with all parties willing to discuss peace: the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and the Arab League. 

Sign the "Let's Talk" petition now.

If you've already signed the petition, consider making a campaign pledge, such as discussing the campaign with 5 friends or hosting a house party.

Combatants Tour a Resounding Success

In our organization we took a commitment to talk no matter what... It is very hard to go on talking about peace, about hope, but frankly we think there is no other way and this is why we keep going on."

- Elik Elhanan, Combatants for Peace

Brit Tzedek was pleased and proud to host a 22-city speaking tour with the Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace in Jewish communities across the United States. The tour, from January 8 to February 9, 2007, was a resounding success, bringing the voices of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation to the heart of our community. Read tour report.

CHAPTER NEWS

Bloomington Chapter Organizes Panel on "The Perils of Jewish Identity"
 
The Bloomington Chapter of Brit Tzedek sponsored a panel discussion on "The Perils of Jewish Identity: Israel, Anti-Semitism and Legitimate Dissent in Contemporary American Jewry," before a large audience on the Indiana University campus on March 20th. The speakers were Kathryn Lofton, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies and American Studies; Michael Morgan, Chancellor's Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies; Shaul Magid, Jay and Jeannie Associate Professor of Modern Judaism, Department of Religious Studies; and Robert Schneider, Professor, Department of History and Editor, American Historical Review. 

Lofton provided an overview of the long and deep pattern in American religious life of splits and schisms, reminding listeners that division among Jews is hardly unique. Morgan spoke of several notable debates over fundamental issues between Jewish intellectuals in the course of the twentieth century.  Magid noted the striking difference between the centrality of Zionism in Jewish life today, and the very different attitudes, often characterized by indifference or hostility, regarding the prospect of a Jewish homeland among Jews early in the twentieth century. Schneider addressed the issue of Jewish anti-Semitism, speculating on when it is, and when it is not, legitimate to employ such terminology. The comments from the audience were largely appreciative and searching. 

"Let's Talk" House Parties in Full Swing

Illustrating the kind of continuing impact Brit Tzedek events often have in our community, the New York City chapter held its first Let's Talk house party at the home of a couple who first learned about us during the recent "Combatants for Peace" tour. The hosts invited people in their personal network to attend the meeting, led by chapter heads Leila Forouzan and Ben Murane, thus extending the ripple effect yet further. 

The Durham/Chapel Hill chapter held a "Let's Talk" party that targeted people active in the local Jewish Federation and others interested in the subject who had not previously been active in the chapter.  Participants were sent two articles in advance of the discussion ("On Israel, America and AIPAC" by George Soros and "Our Clever Foolishness Does Israel No Good" by Leonard Fein) and visiting Israeli professors Gabi and Naomi Sheffer provided their personal views of the situation.

If you are interested in hosting or attending a "Let's Talk" house party, please contact Carinne@btvshalom.org

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Brit Tzedek Scores Victory on Nelson-Ensign Letter to Secretary Rice

On March 7, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and John Ensign (R-NV) introduced a sign-on letter to Secretary Rice that, among other things, called for banning U.S. contact with all Palestinian officials, including moderates like President Abbas and Salam Fayyad.  Over the following three weeks, hundreds of Brit Tzedek supporters and chapters contacted their senators asking them NOT to sign this letter.  

Due in part to pressure brought to bear by Brit Tzedek, Senators Nelson and Ensign modified their letter to address some of our objections.  While we greatly appreciated these changes, which permitted US contact with President Abbas, the revised letter still banned engagement with other non-Hamas Palestinian moderates in the unity government.

In the end, 79 senators signed the still-problematic letter, with 21 refraining [view non-signers here], but we must bear in mind that this apparently modest victory reflects several important levels of change: the final version of the letter incorporated Brit Tzedek recommendations; in a significant shift from past behavior, many Congressional offices waited a considerable amount of time before signing (often citing our grassroots advocacy); and the debate over the letter garnered significant media attention. These are all steps toward larger, broader change.

Jewish Member of Congress Ignites Envoy Debate

In February, Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced a powerful resolution calling on President Bush to appoint a special envoy for Middle East peace, H.Res.143.  A high-level, permanent U.S. envoy to the Middle East could help break the current impasse between Israelis and Palestinians by providing vigorous and persistent engagement to return both sides to the negotiating table.

H.Res.143 is a welcome expression of Congressional support for active U.S. engagement in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It states that "the creation of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will reduce tension in the region and help repair America's image in the international community," and that "it is directly in the national interest of the United States to reengage both sides of this dispute in an urgent manner."

Currently, the resolution has 20 cosponsors, including 4 Jewish Representatives and 3 freshmen.

New Palestinian Sanctions Bill Appears Dead on Arrival

In response to Secretary Rice's recent diplomatic engagement in the Middle East and the formation of the Palestinian unity government, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has introduced a new piece of legislation, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Acts Amendments of 2007 (H.R.1856) that amends the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (S. 2370). 

Like its predecessor S.2370 (a bill that Brit Tzedek strongly opposed in its original version and which was significantly improved after a long battle), H.R.1856 undermines US involvement in the peace process by restricting diplomacy with Palestinian moderates, placing unreasonable requirements on the PA, blocking nearly all US aid to President Abbas, and actively seeking to deteriorate UN agencies that help build Palestinian civil society.

Fortunately, the bill has received only very minimal support to date, with only 5 Republicans cosponsoring and lacking the necessary support of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Syria Visit Sparks Criticism; Demonstrates Growing Support for Diplomatic Engagement

Over Passover, a bi-partisan Congressional delegation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, traveled to the Middle East for a series of meetings with world leaders, including Syrian President Bashar Assad.  This meeting, in particular, drew the ire of the Bush Administration and others, who said that meetings with Syria were "counterproductive," and accused Speaker Pelosi of "bad behavior" and practicing her own foreign policy.

In response, Speaker Pelosi released a statement clarifying that she said nothing that deviated from current US foreign policy (though the act of making the visit was a welcome deviation in and of itself). Several Members of Congress, from both parties, defended the trip, including Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA). Overall, the trip sparked much debate and demonstrates a growing willingness in Congress to challenge the Bush Administration's myopic view of foreign policy and support a new level of diplomatic engagement in the Middle East.

COMMITTEE NEWS

Membership and Outreach Committee Brings "Let's Talk" Message to Bloggers

The Membership and Outreach Committee has initiated outreach to bloggers to and owners of personal websites to promote Brit Tzedek's "Let's Talk" Campaign. Bloggers or owners or personal website can email blogs@btvshalom.org with a link to your blog or web page and we will send you the code for our animated advertisements for our recently launched "Let's Talk!" campaign

If you would like to promote the "Let's Talk" campaign on a blog to which you often contribute or comment, email us at blogs@btvshalom.org with the names of the blog(s)to which you plan to post, and we'll provide you with sample text and all the links you'll need.

We hope you will become a part of this important effort to open all American Jewish forums to the conversation about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

NEW BRIT TZEDEK RESOURCES

Brit Tzedek has been adding to its on-line resources. Israeli Resources includes background on the US-Israel Relationship, Israeli Political Parties, Settlements, Israeli Public Opinion Polls and Surveys, and much more.

Palestinian Resources includes background on the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Public Opinion Polls and Surveys, and much more.

BRIT TZEDEK IN THE NEWS

Our Combatants for Peace tour was covered by a number of radio and television programs, as well as numerous print media outlets. A complete list of print media coverage is below.

"How Far To Go In Limiting PA Aid?" by James D. Besser, Jewish Week, March 23, 2007

"The time has come to talk" by Marcia Freedman and Diane Cantor, Washington Jewish Week, March 22, 2007

"Former enemies now on tour promoting peace" by Alexandra J. Wall, Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, February 23, 2007

"As Capitals Cautiously Greet Palestinian Deal, Israel's Allies in D.C. Push for Pressuring Hamas" by Nathan Guttman, Forward, February 16, 2007

"Former Israeli and Palestinian fighters push for peace -- together" by Peter L. Rothholz, Jewish Journal, February 9, 2007

"Who will bring peace back from the dead?" by Bradley Buston, Haaretz, February 6, 2007

"Former Israeli, Palestinian combatants to speak at PSU" by Sascha Krader, Daily Vanguard, February 6, 2007

"Ex-fighters seek Mideast peace" by Ellen Rifkin, Eugene Register Guard, February 5, 2007

"'Combatants for Peace' aims to end annihilation" by Sylvester Brown, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 1, 2007

"Ex-combatants speak at CRC event" by Mike Sherwin, St. Louis Jewish Light, February 1, 2007

"Forum on progressives' anti-Semitism hits close to home for participants" by Stacey Palevsky, Jewish News Weekly, January 30, 2007

"With P.A. in flames, Jewish leaders tell Rice it's time for new peace push" by Ron Kampeas, JTA,  January 30, 2007

"Advocates to speak on struggle for peace" by Cristi Parker, Columbia Missourian, January 29, 2007

"Ex-Soldier Argues For Aggressive Peace Push" by Michael Jacobs, Atlanta Jewish Times, January 24, 2007

"From opposite sides, paths converge for peace" by Danielle Furfaro, Albany Times Union, January 20, 2007

"Why We Can't Escape the Carter Obsession" by Michael Jacobs, Atlanta Jewish Times, January 19, 2007

"Combatants for Peace", Providence Journal, January 19, 2007 

"Israeli, Palestinian speak today on Mideast conflict" by  Mackenzie Issler, Daily Hampshire Gazette, January 18, 2007

"Brit Tzedek defends stand on peace process in difficult times" by Diane Balser & Carinne Luck, Jewish Review, January 15, 2007

"Former foes join now for peace" by Bob Dunn, Amherst Bulletin, January 12, 2007

"At a Brooklyn Temple, An Israeli Veteran Tells of His Sister's Murder by a Suicide Bomber" by Phillip Weiss, Mondo Weiss, January 11, 2007

"Ex-Israeli soldier urges dialogue instead of fighting" by Moni Basu, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 9, 2007

"The other Israel lobby" by Gregory Levey, Salon.com, December 19, 2006

STAFF NEWS

New Chapter and Grassroots Development Assistant Hired

Adam Esrig, a recent graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz, was recently hired as Brit Tzedek's Chapter and Grassroots Development Assistant. Adam holds a bachelors degree in International Relations with concentrations in Middle Eastern and Latin American Affairs. He has  been active on Israeli-Palestinian peace-related issues since college, where he founded "Voice for Peace", a campus organization which hosted speakers holding a wide range of perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since graduating, Adam has worked with the New York Hotel Trades Council to organize New York hotel workers, and developed an after-school program for students in rural Chile.


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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