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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Perspectives from the President
August 24, 2003
With sorrow, but not despair...Dear members and supporters,
We at Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, extend our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones and who suffered terrible injuries in the recent horrific bus bombing in Jerusalem. We are enormously saddened by this senseless loss.
We are saddened, too, by the breakdown of the peace process during these past weeks, including the renunciation of the ceasefire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the targeted assassinations that have been carried out by Israel, both before and after the Jerusalem suicide bombing.
It is now clearer than ever before that both sides to this bloody conflict are unable to control the impulse to respond to every provocation and to renounce the belief that violence is necessary to 'teach the other side a lesson.'
It is now clearer than ever before that firmer and stronger international engagement, led by the United States, is the only way to move the Palestinians and the Israelis toward a peaceful resolution that recognizes the rights and needs of both sides.
Though the U.S.-led Road Map to Peace was a good start, it was not carried out as promised in the weeks after its signing. The promise of a formal monitoring mechanism to oversee the implementation of the steps each side was to take was never realized. The promised steps to be taken by the Palestinians to begin dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, to consolidate all security forces under one command and to implement comprehensive political reforms, were never taken. The promised steps to be taken by the Israelis to remove the settlement outposts, freeze settlement expansion, and ease the restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement were never taken. In addition, as the U.S. government has recognized, the continued construction of the security barrier cutting into wide swathes of Palestinian land has further aggravated the situation.
We must continue to demand that the United States, along with the U.N., the European Union, and Russia (the International Quartet) recommit themselves to achieving peace in the Middle East. For this to happen, all of what was called for in the Road Map to Peace needs to be implemented.
Moreover, although the infusion of $20 million into rebuilding of infrastructure in the Gaza Strip was a positive step, a much greater infusion of aid is needed < both to rebuild the security forces and to rebuild the institutions of civil society. These measures would go a long way in gaining the trust of the Palestinian people for the peace process.
The majority of Israelis can be expected to support Prime Minister Sharon's moves to control the settler militants in the context of taking steps toward peace. Polls have shown again and again that this is so. The Israeli leadership must be held responsible for carrying out the steps it agreed to in accepting the Road Map. The advantage to Israel was made abundantly clear during the six weeks the ceasefire lasted. Anything less than full U.S. involvement will spell the end of the peace process and, as Secretary Colin Powell has recently said, "both sides will then fall over the edge of the cliff."
The tragic loss of life that this conflict has inflicted, the toll in human suffering it has entailed, and the senseless repetition of loss and suffering with neither side gaining anything in the process must be stopped. We mourn for all these losses. As American Jews, we must also renew our commitment to work actively and effectively to promote a peaceful resolution under the active, committed and appropriate involvement of our government.
As we enter the month of Elul, a time of healing and renewal, we fervently hope that those who have suffered as a result of this conflict find comfort and healing, and that we all find the strength to continue to work for a just resolution to the Middle East conflict.
For peace with justice,
Marcia Freedman, President
For the Board of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom