5 Years Of Keeping Our Eyes
On The Prize
By Steve Masters,
In his first piece as Brit Tzedek’s
new president, Steve Masters, former National Advocacy
Chair and a founding board member, reflects on five years
of organizational growth and closes with thoughts on the 12th
Anniversary of the assassination of Former Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin z"l.
One my favorite Civil Rights Era anthems has the refrain:
“keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.” As we look
back on our impressive accomplishments from our first five
years, it is abundantly clear that we've held on and kept
our eyes on the prize. It is Founding President Marcia
Freedman’s focused leadership that has made all this
Marcia was able to take an idea carried in the hearts of a
group of 16 well-meaning people, and whip us into shape, forge a
budget and fundraising plan, hire a staff and grow us into a
major, national organization whose influence is felt throughout
the halls of Congress and throughout the Jewish community.
I celebrate and applaud Marcia's leadership and her
legacy in this organization. Together, I hope we can build
on her many accomplishments and always count on Marcia’s
wise counsel. I also encourage you to honor her work though a
contribution to the recently established Marcia
Freedman Scholarship Fund.
I also want to acknowledge and thank our dedicated staff,
those who have served on the Executive Committee and the Board,
and of course our chapter leaders and activists across the
This is our first leadership transition, and as we keep our
eyes focused on the prize going forward, let’s remember
the prizes we’ve won so far.
The Prize of Increasing Our Influence in
From our first National Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill in
2005, when just 60 of us introduced Brit Tzedek to 39 members of
Congress, to 2007, when over 120 of us brought our message to
over 100 members of Congress, to the amazing work of our
Washington office, Brit Tzedek has grown to be a well respected
presence on the Washington scene.
The Prize of Changing the Way the American Jewish
Community Publicly Talks About Israel
Back in 2002, we received both nodding heads and curious
looks when we unveiled our message, “there is more than
one way to be Pro-Israel,” at the 2002 General Assembly of
United Jewish Communities. A mere five years later, after
hundreds of successful events in synagogues and Jewish Community
Centers across the country, our slogan has become conventional
wisdom. This was evident at a recent meeting with key Middle
East policy advisors to a leading Presidential candidate, when
one of the advisors uttered our slogan to us when
explaining their candidate’s appreciation for the
diversity of views on Israel amongst American Jews.
As we look to the future, with our “Let’s Talk to
the Candidates” campaign and our efforts to promote a
successful outcome for the U.S.-backed peace conference in
Annapolis, we’ll be holding onto our founding vision and
keeping our eyes on the prize.
These are exciting days for Brit Tzedek and I welcome you to
be in touch with me with your ideas and suggestions. I have set
up a special email address for you to use: email@example.com.
Marking the 12th Anniversary of the
assassination of Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Before I close, I want to include some words in memory of a
truly great hero of peace – former Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin z”l - who was assassinated at the conclusion of a
giant peace rally in what is now known as Kikar Rabin,
Rabin Square, on the evening of November 4, 1995.
Yitzhak Rabin was not always a man of peace. One of
Israel’s legendary war heroes, he was a career soldier,
beginning in the pre-state Haganah, where he rose to chief
operations officer during the War of Independence and continuing
in the IDF, which he led as Chief of Staff during the Six-Day
As Defense Minister during the first intifada, it was Yitzhak
Rabin who created the policy of "force, might and
beatings” in response to the stone-throwing Palestinian
youth confronting Israeli troops in the occupied territories.
From those very dark days, he underwent a radical
transformation in his thinking and, I believe, in his heart. I
think of him as one of the forerunners of Combatants for Peace
and have always understood his profound change in terms of
teshuvah, the inward-turning and repentance that we are
called upon to undertake around the High Holidays.
For me, his transformation into a peacemaker continues to
fill me with great hope.
His legacy refutes the lie that peace is only for the weak,
that peace is only for those too timid to fight. He showed
Israelis and Palestinians that a great man of war, a man whose
life's work demanded that he dehumanize his enemy in order to
achieve his objectives, could transform himself into a fighter
Our work for peace will always draw strength and courage from
the life and legacy of Yitzhak Rabin. So I will close with the
traditional salutation - Hazak v’Amatz
– for the sake of Israel, may we all have the
“strength and courage" to carry on, keeping our eyes on
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance
for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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