H. Res 1369 was passed yesterday (9/23/08) by unanimous consent in the House. It’s a fine if meaningless bill that recognizes the work of Israeli and Palestinian peacemaking organizations. On Monday, I launched a sitelet http://www.helpthepeacemakers.org to encourage its passage and maybe build some public support for our friends in the Middle East. As I was updating the site to let folks know that ‘we won’ I got an alert from Brit Tzedek, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. It arrived at 5:58 pm, more than one hour AFTER the passage of this legislation.

This is embarrassing, and well worth chuckling about. This is unfortunate, and not a reflection of the amazing work BTVS has done. BTVS was founded as the pro-peace, pro-Israel grassroots alternative to AIPAC, and it now boasts dozens of chapters and three offices. It looks like someone at BTVS got the word about this legislation quite late, and scrambled to position themselves as part of the effort to pass it at the last minute, without realizing that the last minute had actually passed. I have no idea how this could have happened, and raising the question could easily be interpreted as mean-spirited backbiting, so it’s best avoided. Friends do not criticise each other in public.

Successful online activism is a combination of three things: strongly empowered staff and volunteers, a commitment to honest messaging, and internal mechanisms for rapid decision making. At least one of these things was absent for BTVS yesterday – can anyone tell us what it was? And don’t say it was just a random thing. I’ve been following your messaging closely…is a strange science. If anyone needs help, www.epolitics.com is a great site.

And now, Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaking on behalf of H. Res 1369 yesterday:

PS: I was a founding member of BTVS, which is to say I was present at the first national conference held in DC that gave birth to it. I was a member of JUNITY, the quasi-entity from which nearly all the BTVS founders came, and part of the email discussion of a faction within JUNITY that wanted to form BTVS because we supported a two state solution. However, I was not a board member – and never tried to be one.