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February 2009 Archives

32 U.S. Senators led by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before her upcoming Mideast visit...

Rules of Engagement (with Congress)

Earlier this week blogger Philip Weiss posted a letter sent to me by an activist named Ira Glunts.  I don't know Mr. Glunts and have never heard from him before, but since he has elected to make his letter public, it seems appropriate for me to respond in kind.

Glunts' letter (which you can read on Weiss' blog) expresses his outrage at APN for our recent statement and Action Alert supporting a statement made February 12th by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

APN Legislative Round-Up - February 27, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Senate Letter to Clinton re: MidEast Trip; 3. FY09 ForOps in the Omnibus Approps

Politico: "Israeli nationalist, charm offensive"

The group Peace Now has taken out ads in Jewish newspapers, asking, "Where is the outrage?"
For the first time in years, there is an American administration that puts action behind its rhetoric.
APN's Friedman & Peace Now's Ofran write the Obama administration "must establish a policy of zero tolerance for settlement expansion before it is too late"
Americans for Peace Now, for one, putting out a statement praising "the president's commitment to work for secure and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors"

Forward: "Wiesenthal Center Fights With L.A. Neighbors"

"...a protest letter (re: Jerusalem Museum site) from Americans for Peace Now, signed by such prominent American Jews as author Michael Chabon and feminist writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin."

Jerusalem Post: "Security fence grew a mere 12 km. in '08"

Peace Now on Tuesday said the IDF has taken some dangerous shortcuts in the last few months as it maps out the remainder of the structure's route.

APN: "First reactions - APN gets the prize"

Americans for Peace Now is first out of the box with a reaction to the Israel-peace reference in President Obama's non-state of the union state of the union.

New WJW op-ed: U.S. peace pursuits - finally - look serious

The following article was published today in the Washington Jewish Week.
In part, I was trying to find a way to express my outrage at Elliott Abrams' matter-of-fact comments (in his recent Weekly Standard article and in his interview with the Jerusalem Post) that throughout his term in Bush's White House, holding the Israel-Palestine portfolio and entrusted by President Bush with implementing the two-state "Bush vision," he never believed that it was either viable or desirable. He was the point-man but he never believed in his mission and admittedly was a naysayer, an obstructionist. It takes a lot of chutzpah for the person who was the chief implementer of the President's policy on this issue to admit to have poo-pooed  it all along, and then depict himself as "the resident skeptic," a "little black cloud." How cynical!
So far, at least, the Obama team seems like it really means it, like it really is trying.

JTA: "Jewish banker sets heartfelt tone for Obama speech"

"Friends of Israel should support the president's commitment to work for secure and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors," said Ori Nir, the APN spokesman.
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has drafted a letter in advance of Secretary Clinton's trip to the Mideast

Senatorial letter to Secretary Clinton

Text of letter drafted by Senator Feinstein in anticipation of Clinton's trip to the Middle East.

APN Sarasota Luncheon Gala - March 18, 2009

Featured speaker will be Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.

February 2009 APN Ad

On February 10, the Yisrael Beiteinu party, led by serial provocateur Avigdor Lieberman, won 12% of the Israeli vote...
Avigdor Leiberman
APN warned Jewish leaders not to "legitimize him and what he stands for."
Peace Now sees these seizure of orders as an attempt to establish quick facts on the ground and to bypass High Court provisions.

February 23, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 25


Avigdor Lieberman: a national security liability for Israel

Here is my new blog posting on (link has expired)
Israel's Lieberman: Regional fear-factor by Ori Nir

Very few people in Israel posses more influence and have a broader global strategic perspective than Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security bureau. Gilad enjoys so much clout and influence that last December he was depicted by Israel's leading Haaretz Daily as "the man who is running the country."

Last week, frustrated by what he argued is the erratic way in which Israeli politicians are negotiating with Hamas through Egypt over a ceasefire agreement and over the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad lashed out. Extensive quotes, carried by Maariv daily on February 18, indicate the Israeli security establishment's concern over Israel's alienating existing and potential regional allies.

Q's re: Netanyahu empowered to form a government, what will emerge? Effectiveness of a Likud-Kadima coalition? Palestinian unity government?

APN Commends Chairman Kerry for his Middle East Trip

As has been widely reported in the press, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) is currently in the middle of a trip to the Middle East, including visits to Israel, Gaza, and Syria.  He is one of many members of Congress traveling to the Middle East during this recess - travel that we hope is an indication that the 111th Congress is going to deal seriously with this region.  Sen. Kerry's travel is especially important, given his role as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and earlier today APN sent him a letter (copied below) applauding his travel. 

Jerusalem Post: "Mitchell could support PA unity gov't"

"It's a breath of fresh air to have a briefing with a broad spectrum of pro-Israel organizations that is on the record," said Ori Nir, spokesman for the dovish Americans for Peace Now.

Tell Congress - Ackerman is right on settlements, peace.

Please write your Representative that you want them to follow Chairman Ackerman's example.
APN's Ori Nir: "exposing young Palestinians to American society is the right thing to do."
APN's Ori Nir: "Mitchell's positive, hope-driven attitude must be commended."

NEW ITEMS: They Say, We Say

Are settlements legal? On "state" land, private Jewish land, private Palestinian land? What's the objection to Jews living in Judea & Samaria (aka West Bank)?

Wither Israel's Arab allies?

Today's Ma'ariv includes a report with extensive comments by Amos Gilad, Israel's lead negotiator with Hamas (through Egyptian mediation). Gilad is clearly frustrated by Olmert's decision to condition the cease-fire on the release of Shalit. And he speaks plainly about that. Just as remarkable are the comments he makes about the dwindling number of allies that Israel has in the Arab world, and the need not to alienate Egypt.

Jerusalem Post: "Right blasts plan to open Hebron road"

Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer: "Opening the road will prove to Palestinians that quiet and security bring both nations toward a solution..."

Jerusalem Post: "Lieberman weakens Israel's cause in US"

"His provocative image has ramifications that go beyond Jewish-Arab issues in Israel," said Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir
The long-time Peace Now leader elected to the Knesset for the Meretz Party discusses "Pushing for Peace after the Elections"
Mossi Raz - Peace Now leader & incoming Knesset Member
Raz, a long-time Peace Now leader elected to the Knesset as a representative of the Meretz Party discusses "Pushing for Peace after the Elections"
Q's on Coalition likely to emerge from Israeli elections; Fate of the Palestinian issue; Arab reaction; Israel-Hamas ceasefire and a prisoner exchange

February 16, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 24


APN Warns Against Legitimizing Lieberman's Bigotry

some in Israel and in America are trying to sugar-coat and otherwise obscure what it is that Lieberman and his Israel Beitenu ("Israel Our Home") party stand for. This is tantamount to tolerating these views and must not go unchallenged.

Bush's Resident Mideast Skeptic Talks

If you're reading this blog, you probably seldom read the Jerusalem Post, which is why you may have missed the Post's interview with Elliott Abrams, the Bush White House Mideast policy czar - his first interview since he left his position as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy.

The Post got the scoop because its reporter Ruthie Blum Leibowitz is Abrams' sister-in-law. That probably has something to do with why I find the interview so satisfying and so frustrating at the same time.

APN Legislative Round-Up - February 13, 2009

...for the week ending February 13, 20091. Bills and Resolutions 2. Ackerman on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Today 1. BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS (UN REFORM) HR 557: Introduced 1/15/09 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and currently having 38 cosponsors, "To promote transparency, accountability, and reform within the United Nations system, and for other purposes." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This bill was mentioned 1/16/09 edition of the Round-Up. At that point the bill text ...

JTA: "Lieberman loyalty proposal finds support in U.S."

Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, said that expressions of solidarity by Israeli Arabs with the enemies of Israel should be considered protected political speech, and that asking Israeli Arabs to sign a loyalty oath only would alienate them further.
APN's Ori Nir: "The efforts of the next few days and weeks to form a government coalition will hopefully make this night a victory for the path of negotiations and peace..."

AFP: "Israel vote bad omen for Obama peace plans"

But Americans for Peace Now -- a Washington-based group -- warned that the results bode ill for the peace process.
Ori Nir, Americans For Peace Now's spokesman, said moments after the results were announced. "Neither America nor Israeli voters will tolerate stalling tactics on the road to peace. There is simply too much at stake."

PBS Frontline Blog: "In the News Israel's Enemy Within"

"...the settler population during that same period grew by 35,000 to 285,000 in the West Bank, according to a new Peace Now report."

Campaign Politics Aside, It's Time for Pragmatism, Says APN

"For Israel's sake, the next government must demonstrate pragmatism and moderation and work closely with President Obama in pursuit of Israeli-Arab peace"

And the Loser is...Israel, Again

I am now a regular contributor to

My first contribution was an analysis of yesterday's Israeli elections. Here it is:

APN Briefing for the 111th Congress

Summary of APN's positions and recommendations on all relevant issues updated for the Congress that began in 2009...
The Ha'aretz Chief Political Columnist discusses the exit polling and its implications after the conclusion of the Israeli Knesset Elections
The Ha'aretz Chief Political Columnist discusses the exit polling and its implications after the conclusion of the Israeli Knesset Elections

JTA: "Does `When Bibi met Barack' have a happy ending?"

APN's Ori Nir: "What every Israeli government finds when it takes the reins is the same reality: the same West Bank, the same Iran, the same Gaza, the same Arab world..."
Nir highlights Yossi Alpher's APN column on possible election scenarios...

Washington Post: "One Region, Two States" by Shimon Perer

I believe that a two-state solution is not only the best resolution to this age-old conflict but one within our reach.
Listen to Seidemann at the 2-6-09 event sponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Middle East Institute, and APN in Washington D.C.

Ynet poll: Kadima wins; Labor crashes

Tzipi Livni big winner of 2009 elections, according to Rafi Smith poll commissioned by Ynet; Kadima wins 28 Knesset seats, Likud comes in second with 26, Lieberman third with 16, Labor crashes to 14

Israeli Election Outcome (according to first exit poll)

I could not find this in English online, and so here are the results of the exit poll published by Israel Radio:

Washington Jewish Week: "Israel's dangerous dark horse"

Debra DeLee, head of Americans for Peace Now, has called Lieberman's "ultra-hawkish" views "potentially disastrous to peace efforts."

APN Legislative Round-Up - February 6, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Resolution Supporting Mitchell Appointment

February 9, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 23

Q's re: Knesset election prospects; apparent pendulum swing in Israeli public opinion; 30 years after the Islamic revolution in Iran; Dealing with Iran today...

On Israeli policy, settlement construction, growth, etc. during 2008

APN's Action Center will automatically generate the appropriate sample letter based on the current co-sponsors of the resolution.
Attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, who petitioned the High Court on the evacuation two years ago on the behalf of Peace Now...

APN Welcomes Congressional Support of Mideast Envoy Mitchell

APN) warmly welcomes the congressional resolution introduced today in support of former Senator George Mitchell's appointment as Middle East Peace Envoy
The Defense Ministry is poised to authorize one of the largest West Bank construction projects in recent years...according to Peace Now.

IPS: "MIDEAST: Settlement Expansion Cutting Into Peace"

Peace Now published a report with the title 'Settlers do not need to wait for Bibi', referring to the right-wing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu

Text of Resolution Welcoming Mitchell Appointment

On Feb. 4, 30 Members of Congress introduced a resolution supporting the appointment of former Senator George Mitchell as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

"No Right Turn" Stickers

Peace Now activists distributed special stickers in advance of the February 10 Israeli elections
Reuters, Guardian, Democracy Now, Forward, LA Times, Ha'aretz, Foreign Policy Magazine, Israel Army Radio, CBS News
Ofra settlement expansion in red - December 2008

Time: "Mitchell Is Ready to Listen, but Is Israel?"

Includes mention of Peace Now's new settlement report

APN Sarasota Luncheon Gala

Featured speaker will be Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr.

February 2, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 22


Washington Post: "Mr. Mitchell in the Mideast"

"The Israeli group Peace Now reported that settlement growth in 2008 was 69 percent greater than the previous year..."

Washington Jewish Week Editorial: "Off to a good start"

On Obama's appointment of George Mitchell as Middle East envoy (mentions APN's support of this choice)
...shooting in and around Gaza? Palestinians' hope from Mitchell's long-term efforts...Israel's elections take place in barely a week's time...?

APN's Briefing for the 111th Congress

Summary of APN's positions and recommendations on all relevant issues...