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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Perspectives from the President
November 12, 2004
Thoughts about the Election, and After
By Marcia Freedman
Dear friends of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom,
Many of us are still feeling a sense of disbelief about the outcome of the presidential and Congressional elections. This election certainly confronted the key challenges of our times and, as a result, the election discourse was more substantive than what we have grown used to in past elections.
The 2004 campaign engaged more people in the political process than ever before. People in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida stood for hours waiting to vote. Thousands upon thousands of people volunteered in support of their candidate. The importance of this election was understood; the need to organize was acted upon; and deep and passionate caring about issues was expressed by many in this country. People throughout the world paid attention to this U.S. election because its outcome has such global consequences. One can anticipate that on the issues of war and peace, economic justice, social morality, gender equality, and parity for the under-represented, people will continue to organize and raise their voices.
In this election as in others, U.S. Jews voted in strong numbers. Much to the dismay of many within our community, both candidates agreed to keep the issue that so preoccupies us, as American Jews, off the table. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict was intentionally absented from pre-election discourse. We were asked to wait.
Now, the election is over and there is no time to waste. The President has new opportunities which are being created by dramatic political developments in Israel and in the occupied territories. These include the evacuation of Gaza, the impending crises within the Israeli government which indicate that new elections could be held within the year and the death this week of Yasser Arafat which necessitates a major reorganization of the Palestinian Authority political system. The reorganization of the Palestinian Authority is currently being led by moderates. Whether or not these moderates can consolidate and hold power at this sensitive moment will be directly affected by Israeli and U.S. cooperation in enabling open and free elections in the occupied territories in the very near future.
Given that we have the same President, but a very altered constellation of circumstances, what must we do?
We need to marshal our forces to express the depth of our caring and passion about real security and justice for both the Israelis and Palestinians, even while other pressing issues may complete for our attention and resources.
Brit Tzedek is committed to continuing our struggle to influence the U.S. government--the Bush administration and the Republican controlled Congress-- to recommit to leadership in bringing the two sides to the negotiating table and presiding over a process that seeks to honestly ensure Israel's security and national integrity and to establish a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The United States cannot continue to alienate the Arab world and fuel extremist enmity. A just solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in this context, is one of the most critical and perhaps the easiest conflict in the Middle East to resolve relatively quickly. Thus, there is reason to believe that global politics may provide some wind at our back for the first time in five years.
Building greater momentum has to involve all our efforts, at whatever level we choose to commit to the struggle for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If you have thoughts and ideas about Brit Tzedek's direction and strategies for 2005, we would very much like to hear from you.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Marcia Freedman, President
American-born Marcia Freedman is a Former Member of the Israeli Knesset and president of the American Jewish organization Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.