April 25, 2009
American Jews for a Just Peace is now six months old and we have come a long way in a very short time. Since our organizing conference in Boston in September 2008, we have grown to 100 active members and over 1000 on our general mailing list. We have working chapters in Albuquerque, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Madison, and Seattle and members in 25 cities across the United States.
We have entered into a formal partnership with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions in Israel and have formed alliances with European Jews for a Just Peace, Independent Jewish Voices of Canada, the U.K.’s Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and Independent Australian Jewish Voices.
We were one of four national organizations that published an Open Letter to President Obama in the Inauguration edition of the Congressional Quarterly in January, and we published an Open Letter to Israeli soldiers in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Our national Call to Action in response to the Gaza incursion went out to hundreds of news outlets around the world. We participated in the international support effort for the courageous Shministim. In October, our Health and Human Rights Project led a human rights delegation to Israel/Palestine and our delegation members have spoken at scores of educational meetings around the country.
Our chapters have been active and creative. Our Philadelphia chapter has coordinated international Tu B’shvat seders to raise money to replant uprooted trees on contested land on the West Bank and engage Jews and allies in working for peace with justice. Our Chicago chapter has continued its weekly vigils for peace. Our Detroit chapter met with the Israeli embassy representative to the Midwest. Our Seattle and Albuquerque chapters played keys roles in forming coalitions for the Save Gaza campaign and have met with numerous elected officials. Our Boston chapter has been meeting with Senator Kerry, working in coalition with other local groups around Gaza as well as boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns. All of our chapters and members around the country have been active in protesting the Gaza invasion and in mobilizing Jewish voices of opposition to the brutal actions of the Israeli government in Gaza, the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. In Philadelphia last week, our members held an 18-hour vigil in remembrance of the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre and in protest of the Gaza incursion, conducting a memorial, a Passover ritual and a teach-in outside the Israeli Consulate in below freezing temperatures.
The situation in Palestine remains grim. Killings and targeted bombings in Gaza continue and the borders remain closed. Administrative detentions and arrests are rampant throughout the West Bank. An American was shot in the face during a non-violent demonstration in the West Bank protesting the construction of the Wall. The construction of 3,000 new homes in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank was announced at the end of March. And the Netanyahu government’s appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as the new Foreign Minister is but one more indicator that the current Israeli leadership has no intention of engaging in authentic negotiations toward peace with justice .
Internationally, however, there is widespread public outrage over the massacres in Gaza. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is gaining momentum on college campuses throughout the U.S. as well as internationally. There is a new level of conversation in the U.S. that is looking at Israel with a critical eye and we need to be sure there is an honest and effective Jewish voice in that discourse.
While AJJP has been successful in raising money to publish the Open Letter to Israeli Soldiers, for the Palestine Medical Relief Center and for the Trees of Reconciliation Campaign, we have not been successful in raising money for our own organization. We operate without a paid staff, entirely on the good graces of a growing team of dedicated volunteers. But we need funds to build and maintain our web site, for publications, for speaking tours, for stationery, mailings, signs and banners, and other basic organizational supplies. We need your help and support.
We are asking for two things: One, for your financial support. Please consider making a donation to AJJP in whatever amount you can spare. You can do this easily by clicking on the “Donate” button on our website at www.ajjp.org and contributing whatever amount you can afford. If you prefer, you can also send a check made out to “AJJP” to AJJP, P.O. Box 1032, Arlington, MA 02474. Second, we are asking you to join us as dues paying members by clicking on the “Join Us” button on our website. The more members we have, the more effective we can be. The suggested amount for annual dues is $60, but we urge you to join at a higher level if you can, or at whatever lower level you can afford – there are no financial barriers to becoming an active or supporting member of AJJP.
With your help, we can continue to build our national grassroots movement for a truly just peace in Israel/Palestine. Please join us.