The president of a growing coalition of American Jews interested in advancing a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will speak at a Durham synagogue Sunday.
Steve Masters, who took the helm of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) on Thursday, will talk about the peace conference that the Bush administration is planning before the end of the year in Annapolis, Md.
The alliance has headquarters in Chicago and is supported by an estimated 37,000 American Jews who would like the U.S. to take a more active role in crafting a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. The group, which was created in 2002, has 39 chapters in the United States, including two in the Triangle.
Masters said there were grounds for both optimism and skepticism about the peace summit being planned by the Bush administration. He said he hoped that advanced, behind-the-scenes negotiations were taking place so that if a breakthrough does not occur, summit leaders could, at the very least, make some progress.
"When high-profile peace talks fail, the consequences are dire," Masters said. "It's extremely important for Americans, Israelis and Palestinians to have come far enough along so something productive comes out of it."
Masters, who was trained in law, said he was visiting the Triangle in response to an invitation by Rabbi John Friedman of Judea Reform Congregation. Friedman also leads the alliance's rabbinical committee.
The alliance represents the dovish end of Jewish American views on Israel. Its members think that Israel's well-being depends on a Palestinian state alongside it.
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