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April 2009 Archives

Independence Day in Israel

Israel is still dressed in blue and white. Two days after Independence Day, national flags are everywhere, even on tree trunks in West Jerusalem. I don't remember so many flags on Independence Days in Jerusalem in the past, flags of so many kinds. 

A new (link has expired) poll released yesterday by showed that most Americans oppose Israeli settlement construction and expansion, and that this majority has grown significantly since 2002.  The poll summary notes:

  • "three-quarters of Americans think that Israel should not build settlements in the Palestinian territories. This is up 23 points from when this question was last asked in 2002."
  • "Even those respondents who sympathize more with Israel feel that it should not be building settlements in the West Bank by a clear majority (64%), as do those who sympathize equally with Israel and the Palestinians (80%), and those who sympathize more with the Palestinians (96%)."
  • "Opposition to settlements is found among majorities of Republicans (65%), Democrats (83%) and independents (74%)."

Background: " is an international collaborative project whose aim is to give voice to public opinion around the world on international issues. As the world becomes increasingly integrated, problems have become increasingly global, pointing to a greater need for understanding between nations and for elucidating global norms. With the growth of democracy in the world, public opinion has come to play a greater role in the foreign policy process. seeks to reveal the values and views of publics in specific nations around the world as well as global patterns of world public opinion. was initiated by and is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland."

President Obama...set the tone for the coming four years - making clear that the United States has entered a new era
President Obama made use of his first 100 days in office to set the tone for the coming four years - making clear that the United States has entered a new era characterized by serious, committed and credible U.S. engagement and leadership in the Middle East policy arena.
A special Interior Ministry committee has recommended to annex the land between the West Bank settlement of Kedar up to Ma'aleh Adumim...

Every Flag Needs a Porch!

For Israel Independence Day, Peace Now in Israel is distributing these flags with a message of peace (click on the link to read the translation of the flyer)

April 27, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 32

Q. Following upon the recent Durban II conference in which Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad spoke on the same day as Holocaust memorial ceremonies in Israel, what are the potential ramifications of Israel comparing Ahmadinezhad to Hitler and the Iranian nuclear threat to the Holocaust? Q. What can we learn so far about the course FM Avigdor Lieberman is proposing for Israel's foreign policy?
His visit here and to the west coast is being co-sponsored by Americans for Peace Now, a Zionist group based in Washington that advocates a two-state solution.

APN Legislative Round-Up - April 24, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. FY09 Supplemental Budget Request; 3. Secretary Clinton on the Hill; 4. More Focus on Iran

AUDIO NOW: Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks to APN

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks about loss and hope with Ori Nir at an APN-sponsored forum in Washington, DC.

Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks to APN

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks about loss and hope with Ori Nir at an APN-sponsored forum in Washington, DC.

Building Bridges with a Bereaved Doctor from Gaza

When two Israeli tank shells shattered Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's Gaza home in January, killing three of his daughters and his niece, his personal tragedy turned - with the help of the Israeli and international media - into a symbol of the Gaza War. For Israelis, in particular, this disastrous incident brought home the realization of the carnage among innocent Gazan civilians.

Washington Times: "Tragedy moves Gazan toward peace"

Feature front page story on Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, "I am Palestinian, but I see with both eyes the Palestinian side and the Israeli side"
Go HERE to see the entire ad...

Ha'aretz Editorial: "Peace now"

U.S. President Barack Obama's peace plan is giving Israel and the entire region a rare chance for real change; it must not be missed.
Los Altos Hills is the location for this special program from 9:15 - 10:15 a.m.
Gazan doctor speaking throughout the U.S. is interviewed about his story and message of peace. Links to APN events with Dr. Abuelaish included.
Gazan doctor in the U.S., partly sponsored by Americans for Peace Now, is interviewed about his story and message of peace.

April 20, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 31

Q. What is behind this controversy of Mitchell & Netanyahu's recent use of the term "Jewish State"? Q. ...what are the potential issues of controversy and contention that Israel and the United States might confront?

September 9, 1993 -- the date that the PLO officially and formally recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and in return Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people -- is a day that stands out in my memory.   As a US Foreign Service officer serving in Jerusalem during that period, I will never forget the palpable feeling of hope and anticipation that was in the air.

What is entirely absent from my memory is the recollection of any Israeli narrative at the time saying: "Sorry Mr. Arafat, but this recognition isn't good enough.  What we actually need is your formal endorsement of Israel as a Jewish state.  If you can't do that, then your recognition of Israel doesn't count."

It is absent not because my memory is faulty, but because this narrative simply didn't exist.  Yitzhak Rabin did not say "thanks, but no thanks;" nor did Israelis.  Everyone understood that the demand of the Palestinians was and had always been: recognize Israel's right to exist (or some slight variation thereof).   The historic September 9th declaration achieved exactly that.  The demand that the Palestinians "recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state" - or what hereafter will be known as "recognition-plus" - came much later.

Los Angeles area program where Dr. Abuelaish well address the audience in Hebrew
Los Angeles: Hear a man of peace who recently and tragically lost three daughters to war, talk about his message of hope and reconciliation
San Francisco Bay Area (Piedmont): Hear a man of peace who recently and tragically lost three daughters to war, talk about his message of hope and reconciliation
Hear a man of peace who recently and tragically lost three daughters to war, talk about his message of hope and reconciliation
Washington, D.C.: Hear a man of peace who recently and tragically lost three daughters to war, talk about his message of hope and reconciliation

National Journal: One Nation, Irreconcilable

By James Kitfield 4/4/09

JERUSALEM-When Jewish settlers evicted an elderly Palestinian couple from the house in East Jerusalem where they had lived for more than 50 years, the evictors came in the middle of the night and were backed by the full force of the Israeli government and security forces. n As reported in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz and verified by witnesses who talked to National Journal, about 20 vehicles from the Israel Defense Forces cordoned off the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in the Arab section of the city at 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday last September.

Q. What is behind the growing tension between Egypt and Hezbollah...? Q. Jordan's King Abdullah will be visiting the White House -- what will he want?

During most of the tenure of George W. Bush in the White House, it was widely understood that a formidable obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace resided not in the region but close at hand in the National Security Council, in the form of Elliott Abrams (who served in various roles, but always with an influence over Middle East policy). Abrams was viewed by many Washington insiders as deeply sympathetic to the Israeli right and ideologically supportive of Israel's settlement enterprise. He was viewed as in large part responsible for the Bush Administration's apparent unwillingness to hold Israel to its repeated commitments to freeze settlements, as well as for President Bush's stunning pro-settlements edict of 2004 - the letter to Sharon in which Bush declared his unilateral decision that Israel would be keeping the ever-expanding, never-officially-defined settlement blocs.

Since leaving the Administration, Mr. Abrams appears to have decided to do everything he can to show just how accurate this popular wisdom about him was. He also appears to be on a mission to undermine any actions the Obama Administration might decide to take on settlements, just as he is believed to have done - from the inside - under the Bush Administration.

Obama's Turkey Speech

Yesterday President Obama delivered a speech before the Turkish parliament. In it he articulated some general outlines of his policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making clear his commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace and making explicit that his policy will be based on both the Roadmap and the commitments made at Annapolis. His words were broadly consistent with things he said previously, both during the campaign and since he was inaugurated.

Obama's comments in Turkey on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were not groundbreaking - representing little more than a reiteration of longstanding US policy - and under normal circumstances they would hardly have been especially newsworthy. Indeed, under normal circumstances they might have generated criticism over Obama's apparent embrace of the previous Administration's lackluster efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

However, these are not normal circumstances.

Bibi at odds with Israelis on 2-state formula

The latest poll by Tel Aviv University's Tami Steinmetz Center finds that clear majorities of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs support working towards a two-state solution.

April 6, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 30

Starting Out on the Wrong Foot; Nobel Recognition; Much Ado About Lieberman; Lieberman's Legal Woes; American Jews Support Peace Agenda; The Next Intifada?; Settlers Riot in Hebron; Return to Umm el-Fahm
Q's on new Netanyahu government's capacity to rule, survive, and move forward on the peace process? Also on Arab summit ending in disarray...

APN Legislative Round-Up - April 3, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. House Democratic Leaders' Letter to Obama on Iran; 3. Fortenberry & Ackerman on H. Res. 282; 4. APN on H. Res. 282; 5. Senator Kerry on Foreign Affairs Funding; 6. Rep. Lee on Injuring of Peace Activist in West Bank; 7. APN Op-Ed: Draw the Line on Israel's Settlements (Newsweek/Washington Post)

Prospect Magazine: "The return of Netanyahu"

Written by APN Executive Committee Member Jo-Ann Mort
Discussion of challenges facing current and future Jerusalem given the incoming Israeli government
Discussion of challenges facing current and future Jerusalem given the incoming Israeli government

Spring - 2009

Includes news, photos, and APN's special 2009 Haggadah insert for Passover
Peace Now's Hagit Ofran: "We are afraid that this government will build much more than all other governments, because of our experience with both Netanyahu and Barak,"
Ori Nir, APN Spokesman: "It's wrong for people to fund settlements," whether it's the U.S. government, Israeli government or private individuals,..."

Ha'aretz: ANALYSIS: "Obama is waiting on Netanyahu"

According to data collected by Peace Now, Defense Minister Barak not only defaulted on his commitment to freeze construction in the settlements and to dismantle at least 24 outposts, but 1,518 new buildings were constructed on his watch last year in the territories, 261 of them on outposts.
From the earliest days of the peace process, it was clear that Israel's settlements would be one of the most contentious issues on the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli domestic agendas.
Israeli and int'l articles that include Peace Now's response to the new government
Hagit Ofran of the Israeli Peace Now organization, which tracks settlement growth, said the Obama administration was concerned about future building plans under Netanyahu.
Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer demanded of Gidon Saar to reveal the details of the agreement. "In the past the High Court of Justice ruled that agreements must be published in full before the Knesset is sworn in," Oppenheimer said. Yisrael Beiteinu and the Likud refused to comment.