The Boston Chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom presents:
"Election '08: The Presidential Candidates' Vision
of U.S. Foreign Policy" on Thursday, October 30 at
7 pm at 52 Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge, MA. read more
Organizing for Real
By Diane Balser,
Interim Executive Director
It is only by gathering all of our strength together,
acting from the ground up, that we will make our voices heard,
and change the reality in the Middle East. With a new President
about to take office, there’s never been a better time
As we approach next month's Presidential election, there can
be no doubting that there has been a real change in the climate
surrounding the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The failure of George Bush's foreign policy, in particular
with regard to the Middle East, has played a major role in
setting the tone of the discourse in the election cycle, and
both Presidential candidates have said that establishing a
two-state solution will be a priority of their Administration --
a notion that would have been unheard of in elections past.
This change in tone is a result of many factors coming
together at the same time, not least the fact that both the
outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and his apparent
successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, have committed
themselves to a two-state agreement -- indeed, on the eve of
Rosh Hashana, Olmert called his fellow citizens to recognize
that such an agreement will require the return of virtually all
But it must be remembered that we, the American Jewish peace
community, have played an enormous role in these developments,
as well. From the actions of grassroots activists, sending
letters and acting on action alerts, to the presence of Brit
Tzedek members on Capitol Hill, meeting with decision makers and
shapers, to the involvement of our Rabbinic Cabinet -- Brit
Tzedek's recent Rabbinic Letter, calling on the candidates to
commit to vigorously pursuing an Israeli-Palestinians peace,
garnered the signatures of some 700 clergy members -- our voices
have grown and multiplied, and are very clearly being heard.
We have witnessed and been a part of the emergence of a very
visible, rational force for diplomatic engagement. We are
American Jews calling for a real solution to the conflict, as
opposed to the traditional, right wing voices which were long
perceived to be representative of American Jewry. Refusing to
accept the inevitability of conflict, the more moderate,
rational voice now says that the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict can and must be resolved; that the creation of a stable
Palestinian States alongside a secure Israel is vital not only
for the Palestinian people and for Israel, for the United States
Make our Voices
Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Israel Policy
Forum and like-minded organizations and individuals have worked
hard, hand in hand, to create that force. When Brit Tzedek was
first established in 2002, there were only a few lone voices in
Congress who spoke to the need for Israeli-Palestinian peace,
but today the landscape has changed dramatically, with growing
numbers of Representatives and Senators sponsoring and signing
on to letters and resolutions, each calling for greater U. S.
involvement, real compromise, and a just two state solution.
These include the Hyde-Capps letter, the Ackerman-Boustany letter, the Davis Resolution (HR 143) , and the Feinstein-Lugar Resolution -- all
literally unthinkable just a few years ago.
All of these changes are also reflected in the establishment
this year of a new PAC: J Street. J Street's endorsements of 34
candidates makes dramatically clear the fact that within
electoral politics, there is room for a very honest, up-front
message that is pro-Israel/pro-peace.
Each of these organizations -- Brit Tzedek, J Street, APN,
IPF -- plays a critical role in shifting the discussion
surrounding the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Brit Tzedek
brings in the people.
Brit Tzedek turned to the grassroots of the American Jewish
community as a basic formulating principle, from day one. Our
people are on the ground, making sure that in a myriad of ways,
each of our representatives gets the message: There is a rising
call for real peace from the American Jewish community.
Our members and activists bring information and apply
pressure through action alerts, letters to the editor and to our
elected representatives, home district meetings, and annual
meetings on Capitol Hill. We have organized consistently and
constantly for five years, and our base is solid and
In organizing, there can really be no substitute to reaching
the people on the ground and encouraging them to make their
voices heard at the highest levels. Brit Tzedek reaches out to
Jews in the community, in Jewish organizations, on campuses and
in synagogues, in cyberspace.
And these are the contacts, this is the organizing, that must
take place if we are to take the change in discourse and create
a real, lasting change on the ground. If we want to see the
words of the candidates translated in to action, we will have to
continue to amplify our message, explain our positions, and work
toward their realization. We will have to make abundantly clear
to all those running for office that if they work to place
Israeli-Palestinian peace at the top of the American foreign
policy agenda, they will have solid backing from within the
American Jewish community.
That is why Brit Tzedek, and you, are so important. It is
only by gathering all of our strength together, acting from the
ground up, that we will make our voices heard, and change the
reality in the Middle East. With a new President about to take
office, there's never been a better time than now.
Diane Balser is
Interim Executive Director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and is also a
professor of Women's Studies at Boston University. From
1983-1994, Balser founded, built and directed the Women's
Legislative Network of Massachusetts and served as the lobbyist
in the State House for the network's sister organization, the
The Boston Chapter of Brit Tzedek
v'Shalom presents: "Election '08: The Presidential
Candidates' Vision of U.S. Foreign Policy" a forum featuring
Kerry Healey as surrogate for Senator John McCain and Steve
Grossman as surrogate for Senator Barack Obama. Thursday,
October 30 at 7 pm at 52 Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge, MA.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsors: Harvard Hillel; Brit Tzedek v'Shalom; Harvard
College Progressive Jewish Alliance, and Harvard Students
Co-Sponsors: Temple Beth Israel (Waltham), Temple Beth
Shalom(Cambridge), Beth El Temple Center (Belmont), and the
Union for Progressive Zionists.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for
Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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