The Power of the Grassroots
By Diane Balser, Executive Director

The following is abridged from a speech given on 6/23/08 at Brit Tzedek’s National Advocacy Days 2008.

As we prepare to ascend Capitol Hill with our message -- one voice crafted from the combined efforts of many thousands -- we come face to face with our growing success and the extent to which the idea of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become mainstream opinion. Over the past six years, we have built America's largest grassroots organization with a pro-Israel/pro-peace outlook, made up of American Jews of all backgrounds, from all parts of the country, and across the denominational spectrum. We are getting closer to our goals through our decisive strategy, our dedicated organizing, and our passionate commitment to making change.

  1. Building a base of elected officials with a solid commitment to a two-state solution. Growing numbers of members of the House and the Senate are coming to understand that Brit Tzedek’s basic positions represent a truly pro-Israel policy, one that will allow a secure Israel and a viable, peaceful Palestinian state to live side by side. Such a policy represents the opinion of most U.S. Jews, as well as that of most Israelis and Palestinians.

  2. A philosophical and practical commitment to organizing the grassroots of the American Jewish public. We are building by strengthening our existing chapters and establishing new ones; by organizing effectively online; and by establishing a respected presence in the broader Jewish community from the bottom up. The Jewish community plays an important role in the public discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and by strengthening our position from within we could have a critical impact.

  3. Publicly stressing the key themes of our message, in order to reach a broader public. The positions taken by Brit Tzedek resonate with the actual situation on the ground, the context in which Israelis and Palestinians live every day. In spreading our message through the mainstream and Jewish press, we are able to amplify our position that to be pro-Israel – to be for a secure Jewish state – one must advocate for a mutually acceptable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

We can move forward from our successful Advocacy Days, leveraging our efforts and making an impact on the direction of the discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the lead-up to November elections. We can influence the incoming Congress and administration to make resolving the conflict a priority; we can make a real contribution to the future peace and security of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Such is the power of the grassroots; such is the power of all of us working together.

Diane Balser is Executive Director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and is also a professor of Women's Studies at Boston University. From 1983-1994, Balser founded, built and directed the Women's Legislative Network of Massachusetts and served as the lobbyist in the State House for the network's sister organization, the Women's Lobby.

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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