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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Cambridge rabbis urge Obama to focus on resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Cambridge Chronicle

November 12, 2008

Cambridge - Three Cambridge rabbis joined 92 rabbis, cantors and rabbinical students in the Boston area, and almost 750 from across the country in calling on President-Elect Barack Obama to make vigilant U.S. leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of his administration, reversing eight years of diplomatic neglect.

Rabbis Greg M. Epstein, Norman Janis, and Elizabeth Weiss Stern—joined other signers of a rabbinic open letter in pledging to mobilize support within the American Jewish community to the principle that "an American President who dedicates himself to the establishment of a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace acts in the best interests of Israel and the United States." The Rabbinic Letter was initiated by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the country's largest grassroots Jewish grassroots peace movement, and was sent initially to both presidential candidates.

For the text of the letter and a full list of signers, go to www.obamaletter.org.

Brit Tzedek released the letter, entitled "Time to Choose Peace" as part of a larger election-focused campaign to build political and popular support in this country for advancing several actions key to the tenable resolution of the conflict in the Middle East, including a freeze on settlement expansion, a ceasefire and an end to the blockade on Gaza, the sharing of Jerusalem, and sustained U.S diplomatic engagement in ending the conflict.

The letter asserts that while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is but one in a long list of challenges that the next president will inherit, ignoring it will only exacerbate the instability and tension in the Middle East, by increasing the influence of terrorist organizations of Hezbollah and Hamas and other extremists groups. The letter states: "It is difficult to calculate the damage that a downward spiral into fresh waves of violence could hold."

To demonstrate his commitment to using American leadership to facilitate a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the letter's signers are calling on the president-elect to take several immediate and concrete steps upon assuming office, including:

* Call unequivocally for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state before the end of his first term
* Appoint ,within his first 100 days in office, a high-level, well-respected envoy to the region, dedicated to the resolution of the conflict
* Establish mechanisms of enforcement to ensure compliance on both sides with commitments made in the course of negotiations.

The Boston chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom includes over 3,300 supporters. Nationally, Brit Tzedek, at more than 39,000 strong, mobilizes American Jews in support of a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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