Like the views expressed in the Open Letter, the principles of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom: Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace [attached below], adopted at our founding conference in Washington DC in April 2002, have been too long placed in the margins of discussion within the American Jewish community. It is time for our voices to be raised and heard, over and over and over again, all over the country.
In the first short months since our founding, Brit Tzedek has recruited more than 800 dues-paying members in 30 states in the U.S., and has begun opening chapters in 20 cities [see partial list below]. Nearly 100 rabbis, Israeli peace activists and prominent American Jewish writers, artists and academics have joined the Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Advisory Committee [see partial list below].
Our immediate goals are to spread the word about Brit Tzedek and recruit thousands of new members, to sponsor Israeli-Palestinian speaking tours, to advocate on behalf of our views in the Jewish community and in the U.S. political arena, and to disseminate educational materials suitable for mainstream Jewish audiences.
As a signer of the Open Letter, you know how vital it is that our perspective be promoted within the American Jewish community and presented to designers of U.S. foreign policy as a mainstream Jewish position. We urge you, as violence threatens, yet again, to spiral out of control in the Middle East, to join our effort to put peacemaking at center stage.
To join, please make out your check to Am Kolel, our interim sponsor, and send it to Brit Tzedek, P.O. Box 19003, Austin TX 78760-9003. Please write "For Brit Tzedek" on the memo line of your check. Basic membership is $36, but we welcome larger contributions; membership dues and contributions are tax-deductible. I urge you to download the membership form from our Web site (www.btvshalom.org) and send it in with your check.
Becoming a member lends credibility to our cause; opportunities to play an active role within our new organization abound. To learn more about Brit Tzedek, to sign up to become a member, and to view the full roster of our Advisory Committee, please visit www.btvshalom.org.
I hope you will join me and all the rest of us in Brit Tzedek v'Shalom to become part of this nationally coordinated, sustained effort to bring peace and justice to Israel and Palestine.
Sincerely, Donna Spiegelman Professor of Epidemiologic Methods Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Harvard School of Public Health on behalf of the Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Board of Directors
Partial list of cities where we are currently organizing chapters: New York, Boston, New Haven, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Denver, Tucson, Austin, Sacramento, Amherst MA, Burlington VT, Ithaca NY, Portland OR, Louisville KY.
A partial list of our Advisory Committee includes current or former Members of Israeli Knesset Uri Avnery, Shulamit Aloni, Naomi Chazan, Tamar Gozansky, Yael Dayan, Anat Maor and Roman Bronfman; David Zonsheine, one of the leaders of the Ometz le Sarev (Courage to Refuse) movement of elite IDF officers who refuse to serve to maintain the Occupation; Gloria Steinem, Rabbi Arthur Waskow and at least 24 other rabbis; writers Grace Paley and Adrienne Rich; UC-Davis Professor of Jewish history David Biale; and Harvard international negotiations expert Herb Kelman.
Brit Tzedek V'Shalom Founding Principles
As a Jewish organization, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is deeply committed to the well-being of Israel and all of its neighbors. We are guided by the mitzvah, or obligation, to pursue peace and justice that is rooted in both secular and religious Jewish traditions.
Our educational, cultural and political projects are based upon our love for the Jewish people and our concern for the long-term interests of the State of Israel. We are also deeply committed to the values of human rights and international law, which reflect our love and concern for the well-being of all humanity.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom supports the work of Israeli and Palestinian organizations that share our principles. We believe that the following principles and action are required in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an equitable and nonviolent way:
1) A complete end to the Israeli military occupation of the territories occupied since 1967 in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem with border adjustments agreeable to both parties.
2) The establishment of a viable Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders alongside Israel with both states guaranteed the ability to maintain secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.
3) The establishment and recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of both states. Such recognition must also insure unfettered access to all religious sites in Israel and in the future Palestinian state to all Jews, Muslims and Christians, regardless of the nationality or sovereignty of the sites.
4) A just resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem that takes into account the needs and aspirations of both peoples. Such a resolution is crucial to achieving a just peace, and therefore must acknowledge Israel's share of responsibility for the plight of Palestinian refugees while also respecting the special relationship between the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
5) The termination of terrorism and state-initiated violence against all individuals with special care being taken to avoid harming civilians. We seek to build a future in which both peoples use non-violent means to resolve social and political inequities.
6) The evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. These settlements are a major obstacle to peace, a tremendous financial burden to Israel and do little, if anything, to enhance Israel's security. These settlements constantly endanger the settlers themselves and the Israeli soldiers sent to defend them, and they bring grave harm to the Palestinians living under Occupation. We call for bringing safely home to Israel the settlers from all settlements except those included as part of a negotiated and mutually agreed upon exchange of territories between Israel and Palestine in determining the final borders of both states.
7) The recognition that as Jews and U.S. citizens, we have a special responsibility to urge our government to pursue policies consistent with the requirements of a just peace for Israel and the Palestinian people.
-- last modified 17 September 2002