Diane Balser's Reflection

As a U.S. Jewish feminist and activist in the U.S. Jewish peace movement for a two state-solution, I had heard of Marcia for many years, so it was such a treat to finally attach the face with the name at the Brit Tzedek founding conference. I loved her smile, her wit, her intelligence, and uniqueness. We became very close work partners in Brit Tzedek—not without our differences—but we built a sisterhood and alliance that I cherished. As I think back, so much is coming back about what a special experience Brit Tzedek was for me and for so many others and what Marcia in particular stood for.

When I got the job of CEO and started working with Marcia when she was board president, I went to her home in Berkeley, and we spent about three days together. Marcia talked to me for a long time about everything she wanted me to know about about Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli politics, and Brit Tzedek. We should have taped it; it was such a treat. But most special was the fact that these days took place at the time of the Israeli disengagement and removal of settlers from Gaza. To share that with Marcia—you can only imagine—glued to the television while Marcia made comments. We celebrated and perhaps cried with many activists. (We did not have Zoom yet but that did not stop us).

Marcia, of course, was ahead of the game in terms of the downside of Gaza, and wrote about that very quickly. However, I recall that even she had some moments of joy.

It should not go unmentioned that Brit Tzedek’s work on the Geneva Accords, in which we worked closely with its leaders and others on a parallel path, played a significant political role in its development. I was honored to travel to Geneva, Switzerland with Marcia and Steve Masters for the October, 2003 signing ceremony.

Marcia really was a good friend to me in many ways. She was very generous and very honorable. It is unusual when someone in the limelight is willing to back someone else to also play a central role. Marcia did that for me, because she did it for Brit Tzedek, and particularly because she deeply believed In women’s leadership. She was very proud of the large numbers of women peace leaders for our cause in Israel and in the United States, many of whom came to speak to us in the United States, i.e. Naomi Chazan.

Brit Tzedek, although relatively short-lived, was a grassroots organization that made a difference and did remarkably well for its time. It thrived on community involvement and caring connection in a cause we believed in so strongly. It was very special.

It took Marcia’s death for me to remember the years many of us spent building this organization. So many people worked so hard, and so long. Marcia was central and yet we built a home for her as well. Something really worked, and yes of course it was not perfect, but perhaps it was the imperfections that made it what it was.

And for Marcia—a special thank you. I like knowing that your name and accomplishments are being remembered.
Diane Balser

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