A Time to Choose...A Time to Act
By Diane Balser, Interim Executive Director

We have to choose change, choose peace, loudly and without hesitation, so that our leaders know that we are ready for a new future -- a future in which Israelis and Palestinians alike can live in peace and security.

voice heard!
We're constantly faced with choices: Which restaurant? Which vacation spot? Which career? Not all choices are hard.  Not all are a reflection of our deepest values. But some, unquestionably, are both.

As pro-Israel, pro-peace activists, we long ago chose to go against the grain, to insist that violence cannot be the answer to Israel's problems. We stand with Israel and want what's best for her -- and we know that sometimes, love means making the difficult choice.

If America's Jews want our government to choose policies supportive of peace in the Middle East, we must make that choice ourselves -- and then, we must act on it. Leaders can make only so much change on their own; they need to be backed by a ready population. It is our job, then, to make sure that our elected officials know: We, and the vast majority of American Jews, choose peace.

Choose peace at http://timetochoose.btvshalom.org

And so today, Brit Tzedek asks you to act on that choice: to organize pro-actively -- to build a force of activists and supporters, pro-Israel, pro-peace activists who are willing to put pressure on those in power to make bring real commitment, real engagement to the table, in order to find a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: two states for two peoples.

As activists, we "vote" for peace again and again, and we regularly find our voice against the obstacles that stand in our way. We do believe that change is possible -- and we must make sure that our elected officials know this.

Because of course it is not enough for individuals, or even large advocacy groups, to make the choice. For real change to take place, leaders, communities and nations have to choose to make the hard decisions.

As such, it's a time for our broader community to choose, for national Jewish leaders to choose, for American and Israeli elected officials to choose -- to choose not just to talk about the possibility of negotiations, under certain very limiting circumstances, but to actually set real, concrete policies, and find the tools necessary to make negotiations work.

We have become too content with a contemporary discourse. Where once it would have been unthinkable to speak openly of Palestinian negotiating partners, of ending the settlement project, of Palestinian statehood, this is now the stuff of daily conversation. Change in vocabulary is important, and often a crucial first step on the road to change on the ground.

But we have fallen into the trap of thinking that good ideas and the right words are enough. Important as they might be, they're not sufficient -- as eight years of Bush Administration policy demonstrates painfully well. The words must be given substance, the ideas must be implemented. We need to choose to act.

Act now at http://timetochoose.btvshalom.org

History shows that even the most courageous leaders must feel the support of their people before they take bold steps to make big changes. In 1988, as the first Intifada broke over Israel, then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin instructed soldiers in Israel's army to "break the bones" of Palestinian demonstrators; five years later, he was on the South Lawn of the White House as Prime Minister, shaking hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. This enormous shift could not have happened if the Israeli people had not been ready for it, if they had not publicly reconsidered the impact of the occupation, begun to turn to Palestinians as potential partners in peace, and voted in a reconciliation-oriented government.

And so while change, real change won't happen until national and communal leaders choose to make it, the truth is that the people have to make that choice first. We have to choose change, choose peace, loudly and without hesitation, so that our leaders know that we are ready for a new future -- a future in which Israelis and Palestinians alike can live in peace and security.

As Israel marks its 60th anniversary year, I can think of no better gift than to choose peace for her -- to choose real change, active policy, and an engaged leadership across the globe, dedicated to truly ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have to make it clear to any and all: Stirring words are not enough -- only action will serve.

We choose peace.

Cast your vote and pledge to take action:

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

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