Steve Masters and Rob Levy
If we support Annapolis
rather than succumb to our skepticism, if we demonstrate beyond
a shadow of a doubt to the White House, to Members of
Congress, and to the presidential candidates that American
Jews stand behind genuine peace efforts – we can change
Since our formation five and a
half years ago, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom has been calling for
active U.S. engagement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. We called for an international fund to bring the
settlers home. We called for a Mideast peace envoy. We called
for an international peace conference. The past six months
excepted, our response from the Bush Administration has had an
undeniable element of talking to a brick wall.
In response, we've sought out
other ways to build political pressure for a two-state solution
- by reaching out to more members of our community, to the
media, and to our Representatives in Washington. While the Bush
Administration was asleep at the wheel, Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace
forces have been scoring bigger and bigger successes –
most recently, with 135 Members of Congress signing the Ackerman-Boustany letter to Secretary Rice in
support of Annapolis and with nearly 500 rabbinical signers (and climbing)
to our Rabbinic Call on Annapolis and the Next
President. The political climate is changing in our
What You Can
1) Get educated – knowledge is power, and
we all feel more sure-footed when we know our opinions are
backed by solid facts. Take the time to visit the Brit Tzedek Annapolis resource page, and learn
more about all aspects of the upcoming meeting.
2) Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, members of your
synagogue. The vast majority of American Jews support strong
U.S. peace initiatives that exhort both Israelis and
Palestinians to reach a peace agreement – we must now
encourage our community to act on its convictions.
3) Help Brit Tzedek publicize our Rabbinic Call on Annapolis by making a donation. With your support we can
publish newspaper ads and appear on talk shows with the message
that a large percentage of our spiritual leadership want to see
Annapolis as a launching pad to a real peace agreement.
4) Write a letter to the editor of your local
secular or Jewish paper explaining why you support the peace
conference. Contact your Congress people, your Senators,
and/or the White House by responding to Brit Tzedek’s
timely action alerts. Reach out to your presidential
candidate of choice. And in all of these, stress that you
are an American Jew who is pro-peace because you are
Now, we find the Bush
Administration engaging in the kind of sustained, proactive
diplomacy we've been calling for. We see Secretary Rice
traveling back and forth to the region, meeting with Israeli and
Palestinian leaders in genuine shuttle diplomacy. And we await
the convening of an international "meeting" in Annapolis
intended to re-launch serious Israeli-Palestinian peace
Yet many in the Jewish community,
in particular among peace advocates, have been utterly silent on
Annapolis. Understandably, many feel a great deal of frustration
and anger with the current Administration and are frankly
doubtful that anything good can come of Annapolis.
However, if we support this latest effort rather than succumb
to our skepticism, if we demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt
to the White House, to Members of Congress, and to the
presidential candidates that American Jews stand behind genuine
peace efforts – we can change history.
Our voices need to ring out with a very clear message:
- We fully support the U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian
governments as they launch the Annapolis meeting in an attempt
to revive serious Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations towards
a viable two-state solution.
- For Annapolis to be a success, it must be followed
by genuine U.S. diplomatic engagement more intense and more
involved than anything that has preceded it in the last seven
- Tangible improvements on the ground are vital, if the
Israeli and Palestinian people are to support diplomatic
efforts, at Annapolis or after. There must be an increase in
freedom of movement and access for Palestinians, and a freeze on
settlement growth from the Israeli side; and stepped-up
security, financial, and governmental reforms on the Palestinian
side, with real efforts to put an end to the firing of Qassam
rockets out of Gaza.
- Gaza cannot be ignored. Israel must do everything it can to
achieve a ceasefire with Hamas and bring captured soldier Cpl.
Gilad Shalit home. The humanitarian situation of Palestinians
living in Gaza must be addressed, and Israel must stop
threatening invasion or the cutoff of electricity.
The Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace grassroots have no choice but to
offer one simple message: There can be no turning back.
There can be no turning back to the previous years of
diplomatic neglect. No turning back to over-simplistic rhetoric
that there is no Palestinian partner for peace. No turning back
to the idea of unilateral withdrawal from some territories,
combined with unilateral settlement expansion in others.
And if we’re really serious about there being no
turning back – we must give our full support to this
Administration’s efforts to move the peace process
forward, regardless of our disagreements with its actions up
The hard work will start the day after Annapolis. That's when
the world will be watching to see how serious all the parties -
Israeli, Palestinian, American - really are about peace. That's
when American leaders will be judging just how much support they
have from their constituencies, especially American Jews, for
continuing down this difficult path.
Because we care about Israel, we must make the peace process
that begins at Annapolis a success.
There is no turning back.
Steve Masters is the President of Brit Tzedek
v'Shalom. Rob Levy is Brit Tzedek's Washington
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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