On the Ground: A Daily Report from
Israel and the West Bank

Journal and Blog Entries: January 12—19, 2008

From Steve Masters, Anna Freedman and Rabbi Brant Rosen

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, in a pilot partnership with Meretz USA, is co-sponsoring a symposium in Israel and the West Bank this week. The delegation is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian political and grassroots leaders of the peace movement, as well as seeing first hand the effects of the occupation to gain an understanding of the realities affecting Israeli and Palestinian lives on a daily basis.

Brit Tzedek president Steve Masters and national office staffer Anna Freedman are writing regular reports on their experiences and tour participant Rabbi Brant Rosen, a member of Brit Tzedek’s Rabbinic Cabinet, is writing entries on his synagogue blog.  You can read these reports at:  http://btvshalom.org/btvshalom.org/resources/brit_tzedek_on_the_ground.shtml

Check back regularly for the latest entries from the trip!

Examples from recent posts:

An Agreement within a Year
By Steve Masters
January 13, 2008

This morning I attended the opening plenary of the Geneva Initiative's conference entitled: "An Agreement within a Year". The basic idea behind the conference is to create a road map for implementing the parties' joint declaration at Annapolis to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. I heard Yossi Beilin speak passionately as the first keynote speaker.Here's background on their campaign -


Beilin's major points were as follows:

What did Bush say? I am a friend of Israel and I am at your service. If you don't want to reach an agreement, I won't push you. If you want to reach an agreement, this is the window of opportunity. You know me, you trust me, an agreement is pretty clear cut - along the lines of what I've outlined since 2005, so I'm willing to assist. If you want me to push, propel, insist, I'll do so.  [Read More]

Life in Limbo Land
By Rabbi Brant Rosen
January 14, 2008

Our first stop today was Givat Haviva, the venerable school founded by the Kibbutz Artzi movement. GH is located in the north of Israel, in the middle of Wadi Ara (or the so-called “Little Triangle”) – one of the most densely populated Arab sections in the country. The school is a pioneering institution in the field of coexistence; its Jewish-Arab Center for Peace sponsors a variety of different educational programs including High School Youth workshops and Arabic-language/culture classes for Israeli soldiers. [Read More on Rabbi Rosen's blog]


On the Ground
By Anna Freedman
January 12, 2008

Naomi Chazan, at the opening banquet of the symposium, criticized the relative inaction of the last month since the conclusion of Annapolis. Nevertheless, Chazan was very positive about Bush’s visit as representing involvement of the international community in the peace negotiation process, which she defined as one of several critical keys to the success of the road map.

Chazan brought up several other interesting revelations about the current state of affairs of the Israeli government. She said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s main preoccupation of late is the upcoming release of the Winograd Commision on last summer’s war with Lebanon at the end of the month. The focus of the Winograd Commission is on the last 60 hours of the war, during which Olmert went against UN Res. 1701, which was essentially a call from the international community for a ceasefire, and sanctioned a strike by Israeli ground troops that resulted in the deaths of several soldiers. This event was highly traumatic to the Israeli people, and Chazan expects the aftermath of the Commission’s release to be potentially damning for Olmert, and may even result in his resignation. [Read More]

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