Dear supporters of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and members of the American Jewish community,

Who among us has not watched in alarm and anguish as the crisis has unfolded in Gaza and southern Israel over the past two days? Close to 300 Palestinians have died and hundreds more are wounded -- both Hamas militants and ordinary citizens. More than 120 rockets have been launched into Israel, with one man killed.

Though some Israeli action is an understandable response to continued rocket fire from Hamas, and the idea of contained surgical strikes may be compelling, these airstrikes represent a huge escalation of the conflict -- a crisis that may end in a wider war in which many more Palestinians and Israelis die in the weeks to come.

The now familiar sequence of escalating mutual hostility, invasion, and withdrawal without security arrangements has never worked -- in Lebanon, the West Bank, or in Gaza itself. The United States and the entire world community must intercede to help reestablish a ceasefire, put an end to rocket attacks on Israel, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Brit Tzedek calls on President Bush to initiate an international effort aimed at negotiating an immediate ceasefire. Such a ceasefire must halt all attacks from both sides and allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Further, we call on President-elect Obama to make clear that he will, as President, urgently assert US leadership to achieve a comprehensive diplomatic resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflicts.

Today, black smoke spirals over Gaza as the hospitals fill with the wounded. Israelis stay close to bomb shelters and 7000 reservists get ready for a possible ground assault. If the international community fails to swiftly establish a durable peace, the consequences will be dire. The current hostilities in Gaza may be only the beginning.

There is no doubt that Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens. But Israel's only hope for survival as a secure and democratic Jewish homeland lies in a diplomatic -- rather than military -- solution, and in a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians.

   

Steve Masters, President, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Diane Balser, Executive Director, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom


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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