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Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Seek peace...and pursue it : Psalm 34:15

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II. Seeking Peace Bulletin

Issue #17
May 16, 2002

Over 60,000 Rally for Peace

On Saturday night, May 11, over 60,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv for a peace rally run by the Peace Coalition, a group of Israeli peace organizations. The message of the rally was "Get out of the Territories, for Israel’s Sake." Speakers included writer Amos Oz and Meretz Leader Yossi Sarid. Sarid noted, "This is much bigger than expected. There is a peace camp in Israel and it is raising its voice."

Former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin also addressed the crowd, saying "The main thing that killed the peace process happened here seven years ago when Yitzhak Rabin was killed. I promise Yitzhak Rabin that we will finish the job." (Ma’ariv, 5/12/02)

New Poll-- Support for Negotiations to Combat Terror

In a new poll released last week in Israel, 63% of Israelis believe that diplomatic negotiations are necessary to address the problem of terror. Another 59% of Israelis believe that a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and a dismantling of settlements would lead to the renewal of the peace process.

59% of respondents believe they would support an American sponsored peace proposal that includes a withdrawal to 1967 borders, a compromise on Jerusalem and a Palestinian concession on the right of return. When asked if they would support a U.S. led international force for the Palestinian territories, 56% of Israelis said yes.

The Dahaf Institute conducted the poll for the Peace Coalition, an umbrella group of several Israeli peace organizations. 504 Israelis were questioned; the margin of error was 4.5%. (Ha’aretz, 05/02/02)

Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace

A group of rabbinical students from the across the religious streams have come together to voice support for Israel while criticizing Israeli retaliations against Palestinian terrorism. Calling themselves the Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace, they sent letters to over 20 American Jewish leaders, calling for peace negotiations and urging the Jewish community to refrain from labeling Jewish critics of Israel “traitors." The group currently has more than 100 members.

For a complete story, log on to http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=11294&intcategoryid=4.
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 5/13/02)

Undermining Israel, With No Alternatives

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of UAHC, in response to the Likud Party vote against a Palestinian State.

"Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Likud Party's Central Committee last Sunday and asked its members to affirm that a Palestinian state would never be established west of the Jordan River. He declared that it was not his intention to undermine Prime Minister Sharon, but he was fully aware that if the resolution passed — and it did — the result would be not only to humiliate Sharon and advance Netanyahu's own candidacy for party leadership, but also to cause significant damage to Israel's diplomatic standing. At a critical moment in Israel's history, with its citizenry reeling from continuous terrorism, Netanyahu chose opportunism over leadership and personal ambition over the well-being of the Jewish state."

"But not only Sharon has paid a price; Israel has as well. Although the decision does not change the position of Israel's government, Likud is the prime minister's party and the resolution has raised legitimate questions about the government's intentions. The Palestinian Authority has already made use of it to score propaganda points. More important, it has embarrassed the Bush administration, which is firmly committed to a two-state solution. Indeed, except for the Christian Right, all of Israel's American friends see a Palestinian state as essential to an eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu, who knows the United States well, is well aware that his resolution has the potential to distance Israel from its most important ally."

For a copy of the complete article, click on the following link: http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.05.17/oped3.html.

New Report: Settlements Control 42% of West Bank Land

B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights (http://www.btselem.org) released a report this week on Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank. The report found that 42% of the territory in the West Bank is “controlled by the settlements” even though only 1.7% of the West Bank is built-up settlements. Much of this is due to the jurisdiction over the area given to the regional councils. (Ha’aretz, 05/14/02)

Rabbis for Human Rights on the Current Crisis

Rabbis for Human Rights is an Israeli organization comprised of rabbis from all Jewish denominations dedicated to protecting the rights of all human beings. They have consistently criticized Palestinian violations of the human rights of Israeli Jews and human rights violations within the territories.

Recently, Rabbis for Human Rights issued a "Statement on the Crisis in Israel." We encourage you to read the statement. Please click to http://www.rhr.israel.net/statement.shtml

If you are interested in contacting Rabbis for Human Rights, North America, please contact:
Rabbi Brian Walt, Rabbis for Human Rights North America
Phone: 215-508-5560
Email: RHR_northamerica@yahoo.com