Monday, February 23, 2009

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom Vs. Brit Shalom.

Brit Tzedeck v'Shalom – Peace & Justice Alliance, is a contemporary far left organization of north American Jews, operating mostly outside of Israel. Its name, in Hebrew is reminiscent of the historic ‘Brit Shalom’, ‘Peace Alliance’. A far left Zionist group in Israel of the 1930’s, then under the British mandatory rule, that was willing to make painful concessions to the Arabs in exchange for peace.
I won’t be surprised if the contemporary group had chosen its name to invoke the memory of the old one. Quite frankly it seems very transparent.
But are they the same?
The answer is NO, and it is not a humble ‘no’.
Looking at the record of statements and deeds (mostly statement) of the contemporary group a picture of mediocrity arises, full of immoral and irrational shortcomings.
It starts right in the front, with their title “Peace and Justice Alliance”. The adding of the word ‘justice’ is no small change to the difference between this group and the historic ‘Brit Shalom’, it is a fundamental change, as grave as the high value of peace and justice are in our democratic civilization.
Grouping together ‘peace & justice’ is a veteran element in Palestinian propaganda. It plays on the fact that we all want peace and we all want justice.
But put together these admirable values don’t fit.
Justice is subjective Peace is objective.
Justice is something people are willing to fight and die for and that includes going to war, peace is something we make painful concessions for, painful because we believe our causes to be just.
Which is why the Palestinian slogan “No justice No peace” has no peace in it, because justice by them is the maxim Palestinian demands, the right of return and the destruction of Israel.
Whether btvs choose their title out of shared malice or gullibility is irrelevant; that title is a fraud and they are apart of it.
Btsv claim they want Israel’s best interest, security and peace and moral integrity, but more then once a forgiving over-concern to the Palestinians slips out.
Take for example their reaction to the bombing of the 'Shefild Club’ in Rishon Letzion on May 7th 2002:

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, strongly condemns the suicide bombing in Rishon Letzion that took the lives of 15 Israelis and caused many more serious injuries.

The bombing is deplorable not only because the victims were unarmed, innocent civilians, but because of the excuse it gives Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to escalate his military reprisals. "Clearly, the Palestinian extremists that carried out this horrific attack want to disrupt the momentum of international efforts to find a just resolution to the conflict. Sharon¹s promised "harsh response" will mean they¹ve succeeded," said Clare Kinberg, a member of Brit Tzedek's board.

Israel’s defending itself from such atrocities is ‘excuses’ thus the lives of the armed members of the groups that carried out such attacks are equal to that of unarmed Israelis. They had condemned the attack, and immediately contradicted themselves by denying the right of self-defense.
And from their booklet for the 40th anniversary of the occupation, this is what Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman had said

Both Israelis and Palestinians have perpetrated violence against the other, and both have endured terrible losses. But there is no parity between the two. There is no symmetry between the occupier and the occupied.
Israel has occupied Palestinian lands for 40 years. It has systematically violated international law. It has built illegal settlements, demolished homes, confiscated land, destroyed the infrastructure, shattered the economy, and engaged in widespread torture and assassinations. For this we must hold Israel accountable. And from this we must not turn away.

Saying there is no symmetry between occupied and occupier is a license for the occupied to do all sort of atrocities. Calling Israel combating armed enemy combatants assassinations, denies Israel’s the right to defend its citizens.
Thus she had demonstrated two large moral holes, magnified by unverified and exaggerated charges.
And as far as their founder and the living spirit behind the movement, Marcia Freedman, is concerned, even after the disengagement, Israel is still the occupier of Gaza.
But the most outrageous thing is their chronology of events from 1967 to 2007 in that booklet. In it are omitted the mass murder campaigns by Hamas in 1994 and 1996, as well as the one carried out by all armed Palestinian organizations during the second intifada. Netanyahu just happened to get elected in 1996, and the IDF just happened to reoccupy the WB in 2002 and 2003.
This is not anti Israel; it is anti Israelis.
And this goes on farther in their booklet and press releases.
But the main point here is not their moral shortcomings, which is just a syndrome, but their mediocrity, a mediocrity that was unable to understand the whole aspects of security in the Israeli discussion about the territories.
After all that had happened since the Oslo process begun, and the second intifiada, btvs still have no grasp as to what their asking/demanding Israelis to risk.
‘Brit shalom’ on the other hand had members and supporters who knew that very well. And were asking a lot more, since they were asking us to give up the hope of a national home in exchange of peace:
Martin Buber, a theologian and a moralist who was there at the foundation of the Zionist movement.
Arthur Ruppin who was one of leading land buyers (redeemers) for the Zionist movement, and Ernst Simon, who fled Nazi Germany, to the land of Israel, and others. They had the decency to call what they were asking peace and not justice. Unlike the members of btvs, they where a known quantity, who contributed a lot to the formation of the Zionist movement and the formation of the future state of Israel, even though their views were unpopular. Brit Shalom members and supporters had earned the right to offer the deep and painful concessions they had offered the Arab side. But what gave btvs the right to ignore us the citizens of Israel, our concerns, our debates, and our disappointments from the peace process? Our concerns for the live of our loved ones, and preach us morality behind a title that show ignorance in both peace and justice?


  1. SO many of your posts are filled with vitriol, hatred, and contempt for people who are trying to find a peaceful way forward in the Middle East. Who cares what the name of the organization is? Why spend so much time on it?
    Sometimes the anger you show pushes away the very people you might want to interest in Israel and Israeli lives behind the headlines. These emotional outbursts are poor advocacy; they are antithetical to the spirit of great Zionists like Abba Eban, who made many friends with his quiet, witty talk.
    Sometimes I think every time you post something hateful, you create more people who will avoid anything to do with Israel or Israelis.
    I will continue to look for something positive in your posts. --Wendy in Washington

  2. Dear Wendy,
    I appreciate your words and I welcome them at anytime, and I am honored that you have decided to keep visiting my blog. However, I do strongly disagree. I believe you are trusting people and ideas I long lost trust with. Since the beginning of the Oslo process I voted for peace parties or for parties that also promoted understanding between the main streams of society here in Israel but the onset of the second Intifida had taught me two bitter truths, one that the Palestinians never wanted peace, or that their idea of peace does not include us, and that the world’s peace movement was hijacked by people who share these goals, people who see the very existence of the state of Israel as the source of all evils. This hijack was facilitated by blindness and dogmatism of other people within the peace movement, people who lost the ability to differentiate between opposing the occupation and anti Zionist propaganda.
    Wendy, you may know some of these people and can testify for their good intend, and I respect that, but I can only point and highlight what I believe are the moral and logical failure of their arguments and positions. This is harsh and painful criticism, but sweeping it under the rug will help no one.

  3. Wendy,
    Perhaps it would be better if you gave some examples of the vitriol, hatred, and contempt that you claim fill Dvar Dea's posts.

    I must say that when I see a comment that starts "SO many of your posts are filled with vitriol, hatred, and contempt" it makes me think that comment is filled with vitriol, hatred and contempt, and is not very constructive.

    Names are very important in the Middle East - names and words, as I wrote at MidEastWeb. In general, names and words are a big part of who issues are perceived. And we can tell things from names. If the organization was called "Union of Rabbis for Greater Israel" you would know that it has a different purpose. Now it happens that almost every time someone is talking about "justice" in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict it is bad news for Israelis - vitriol and hate as you say. Colonialist imperialist warmongers who persecute poor Palestinian Arabs. And usually those groups with the word "justice" in the name want to kick me out of my home.

    Brit Tsedek among other things wants Israel to negotiate with the Hamas if I understand correctly. Hamas is a genocidal organization that declares it wants to murder all the Jews. Their charter is filled with vitriol and hate, but for some reason Brit Tzedek doesn't object.

    Ami Isseroff in Rehovot