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May 2009 Archives

Responding to readers' comments

Wow! So many comments!

I would like to thank all of those who took the time to comment.

Let me briefly address some of the comments and questions.

New op-ed: Netanyahu faces stark choice

Check out my new op-ed on Prime Minister Netanyahu's coices following his meeting with President Obama, published in today's edition of the Washington Jewish Week.

Reactions are welcome

Pictures from 2009 APN Fact-Finding Trip to Israel

APN leaders and L.A. residents Sandy Weiner and Irwin Levin participated in this special trip in May, 2009

Abbas Starts Washington Visit on a Positive Note

Coming to Washington on the heels of a thorny, sour visit by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seemed determined today to show that he and his Palestinian Authority are not a problem but a part of the solution.

Abbas briefed a small group of Middle East policy shapers at a Washington area hotel. Attending were analysts at Washington think tanks, a couple of representatives of Arab-American groups and representatives of three pro-Israel organizations, including Americans for Peace Now.

The Peace Now anti-settlement group, however, says that more than 50 outposts have been erected since March 2001 and that at present the West Bank has more than 100 outposts.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said it was about time the council heads were held accountable for the unauthorized outposts in their regions.

AP: "Israel scrambles to avoid showdown with Obama"

"...the Israeli settlement monitor Peace Now says 6,000 more units are in various stages of planning."

May 26, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 35


NEW: They Say, We Say

What APN says about questioning the two-state solution option, alternative options, and Netanyahu's economic "plan" for the Palestinians
Assessment of Netanyahu meeting last week and its aftermath; Israel-Syria peace process; Gaza and Hamas...

APN Legislative Round-Up - May 22, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Update on FY09 Supplemental Appropriations Bill; 3. HCFA Marks Up FY10-FY11 Foreign Relations Authorization Act; 4. Pro-Peace Letters Circulating in the House; 5 Update on "Peace Principles" letters
Israeli authorities demolished an illegal Jewish settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank days after President Obama appealed for a halt to settlement expansion

L.A. Times: "Pain and hope"

Edited transcript of an interview with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who was brought to the L.A. Times by APN
The move came after a petition filed by Peace Now earlier this month, calling on the state to issue stop-work orders and demolish the homes...
Peace Now responded to the settlers' accusations with similar accusations: "The Settlers Council is deceiving the defense minister and the public, and trying to give false information."
There are 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank erected between 1995 and 2005. According to Peace Now, in the past two years 309 new caravans have been placed in these outposts.

NPR: "West Bank Settlers Vow To Continue Building"

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran: "There was never a real settlement freeze. And unfortunately in the last year, starting in the end of 2007, there's been an increase in settlement expansion,..."
Yariv Oppenheimer of the Peace Now movement said the evacuation was "just a public relations stunt" and added that "if they really want to deal with the problem of illegal outposts they should deal with the significant outposts."
Americans for Peace Now praised President Obama for saying he would "aggressively" pursue peace and calling for a stop to settlements...


Sidebar to Washington Post feature on Israeli Settlements

Washington Post: "U.S. Urges Israel to End Expansion"

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth -- any kind of settlement activity. That is what the president has called for."
Public opinion polls published over the weekend clearly indicate that a majority of the Israeli public continue to support a solution of two states for two peoples.
Malley served as a member of President Bill Clinton's National Security Council, including as Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs.
Debra DeLee, APN President and CEO: "It's hugely significant that Netanyahu heard the same message from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue: Settlements must stop..."

Obama and Bibi: Disagreements in the Oval Office

Benjamin Netanyahu is known (and often mocked) for his blunt depiction of how he saw Israel's relationship with the Palestinians in the post-Oslo years of the late 1990's. "If they give, they will receive. If they don't give, they won't receive," Prime Minister Netanyahu said back then (1998), suggesting that the burden of delivery was on the Palestinians and that Israel will act on its commitments under the Oslo agreements only once the Palestinians fulfill theirs.

In the Oval Office Monday, the comeback prime minister experienced some giving and receiving Obama style. After weeks of preparations, having leaked to the media that he was bringing to Washington a new plan for Mideast peace, Netanyahu ended up giving President Obama very little with which the U.S. could work to advance peace in the Middle East. And he received very little in return.

YNET: "Peace Now: Settlers 'upgraded' 2 outposts"

Peace Now alleged Tuesday that over the past few months West Bank settlers have "expanded two existing outposts, and that the government has done nothing to stop them.
5/17/09By Akiva EldarFigures released recently by the Central Bureau of Statistics cast doubt on government officials' claims of housing shortages for young couples living in West Bank settlements - the central argument Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to present to U.S. President Barack Obama against freezing settlement construction. Figures for 2006-07 reveal that the housing shortage in settlements stems largely from "migration" from Israel proper to communities beyond the Green ...
APN posted an analysis maintaining that the recently-elected Bibi is "susceptible to pressure."

APN Ad for May 2009

The ad was placed at the time of Prime Minister Netanyahu's meeting with President Obama in the White House

APN Legislative Round-Up - May 15, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Update on FY09 Supplemental Appropriations Bill; 3. Details of Senate Version of FY09 Supplemental; 4. Pro-Peace Letter in the House; 5. FY10-FY11 Department of State Authorization Bill
Americans for Peace Now in an open letter to the President: "As you face the opposition, please keep in mind that our support for your Mideast agenda represents a majority view both in Israel and among Israel's friends in the United States.
APN's Debra DeLee: "By working with the Obama administration and by engaging with Palestinian and Arab interlocutors, Netanyahu ought to be able to rise to the challenge and take the necessary steps needed to bring peace and security to his people..."
Phone in on Thursday, May 21st, 3:00 p.m. (Eastern) to hear from a top Middle East expert
APN's Ori Nir: "...the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a US national security interest and one must always remember that Israel's top national security asset is its relationship with the United States..."
Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer, said the High Court had given the government a "yellow card," as well as an opportunity to prove it was serious in its intention to evacuate the outposts.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said the move was an expression of Netanyahu's plan to thwart any efforts to establish a Palestinian state.
What awaits PM Netanyahu and President Obama's meeting? Why opposition to Mahmoud Abbas holding the sixth Fateh conference in the West Bank and reappointment of Salam Fayyad?

APN Slams Construction of New West Bank Settlement

APN criticized the construction of a new West Bank settlement revealed as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to meet with President Barack Obama.

Danny Seidemann in the Forward: Loving Jerusalem, With Maturity

Danny Seidemann, the preeminent expert on all things related to Jerusalem and the quest for peace, has an extraordinary op-ed in the current issue of the Forward.   His central thesis?  "American Jews are singularly unprepared to engage in sober, rational discourse on the city's political future. But it is now imperative that the Jewish community replace sloganeering about Jerusalem with a more nuanced approach, rooted in a familiarity with the complexities of the city and the genuine Israeli and Jewish interests embedded in it. In reacting to the prospect of an engaged White House and progress toward a final-status agreement, American Jews should not abandon their love and devotion to Jerusalem, but they must undergo a process that many Israelis have already undergone: transforming devotion to Jerusalem from a teenage infatuation into a mature, adult love."

Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive politically bruised in Washington Sunday.

His first fifty days in office have not been successful. The media criticized the manner in which he constructed his government and depicted it as too large, wasteful and poorly staffed. Then Netanyahu flip-flopped on the budget and now he is perceived as putting at risk Israel's relations with the United States - its chief national security asset.

It is unsurprising, therefore, that most Israelis are unhappy with Netanyahu's performance: 52% disapprove of his performance as prime minister according to a Friday Haaretz poll. Only 28% of those polled said they were satisfied with Netanyahu. Only 27% said they think Netanyahu is a better prime minister than his disgraced predecessor, Ehud Olmert.

Most Israelis and American friends of Israel support the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. APN calls on Obama not to waver or hesitate in the face of pushback.
President Barack Obama is set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Send a message of support to President Obama.
Wednesday's hearing was in response to a petition filed by the Israeli organization Peace Now.

Congressional letter to Obama

Representatives Steve Cohen, Charles Boustany, and Russ Carnahan are circulating this timely statement of support for President Obama and his efforts to achieve Middle East peace.
Any Israeli or American Jew who believes the two-state solution is the only solution for Israel and the Palestinians should do the same, and any such Israeli or American Jew who doesn't root for Obama against Netanyahu is either deluded, fainthearted or hypocritical.
Peace Now demands that the planned route of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train be altered so as not to cut into privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Peace Now, another Israeli group, released similar information about the plan, based on a government budget document, saying it feared the proposal was "possibly preventing the ability to reach a two-state solution".

May 11, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 34

As revealed by Peace Now the article reports on a little-known Israeli cabinet decision as one part of a dangerous plan to change the character of Jerusalem's historic core.
Post your question or comment and Ofran, author of Peace Now's Jerusalem report, and Seidemann, expert quoted in the NY Times article will respond.
A little-known Israeli cabinet decision is one part of a dangerous plan to change the character of Jerusalem's historic core.
If implemented, the plan would severely hinder efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Q and A on Dangerous Jerusalem Plan Exposed by Peace Now, NYT

As revealed in a report by the Israeli Peace Now movement and reported on the front page of the New York Times Sunday, a little-known Israeli cabinet decision is one part of a dangerous plan to change the character of Jerusalem's historic core.

Hagit Ofran, the author of the Peace Now report, and Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann (who was also quoted in the NYT article), will be answering questions about this breaking story here.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now...contended that the plan aimed to create "an ideological tourist park that will determine Jewish dominance in the area."
The study found that the collective memory of Israeli Jews in general is significantly critical of Israel's role in the conflict, and that they have somewhat rejected the "Zionist narrative" of the conflict which holds the Arabs/Palestinians primarily responsible for the conflict.

APN Legislative Round-Up - May 8, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. House Approps Committee Marks Up FY09 Supplemental; 3. APN on FY09 Supplemental; 4. AIPAC on the Hill; 5. Shameless Plug for APN Blog
Americans for Peace Now encouraged activists to call lawmakers...
Read Peace Now's statement on the new illegal neighborhood in Halmish settlement, plus related articles from YNET and AFP
Special APN 40% discount during National Poetry Month. Anthology features: Yehuda Amichai, Aharan Shabtai, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Meir Wieseltier, Natan Zach & more...

Tomorrow at 10am the House Appropriations Committee will be marking up legislation to fund President Obama's (link has expired) FY09 Supplemental Budget request (the mark-up will be webcast).  In advance of that mark-up, APN today sent talking points to all members of the Appropriations Committee urging them to support the Middle East-related provisions in the bill.  Also in advance of the mark-up, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey released a (link has expired) summary of the bill and a (link has expired) statement about the bill (both of which deal with some details on Middle East funding)

APN's talking points to Committee members stated:

NPR Radio: To The Point with APN's Ori Nir

NPR's "To The Point" hosted by Warren Olney

The APN Spokesman is interviewed as part of the program "What's Next for the Two-State Solution?"

JTA Blog: "Left-wing groups try to counter AIPAC"

Americans for Peace Now sent out an alert Monday stating that "thousands of 'pro-Israel' activists will be on the Hill claiming to speak for all Americans...

Visit APN's Blog

Read Ori Nir's postings from Israel, the most recent from a difficult visit to Hebron; and Lara Friedman's response to Prime Minister Netanyahu and VP Biden and Sen. Kerry's speeches at AIPAC

I already weighed in with concerns about Bibi's speech last night at AIPAC.  On the happier news front, two great speeches were delivered at AIPAC today, one by (link has expired) Vice President Biden, the other by (link has expired) Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry.   Both made clear that they are friends of AIPAC and friends of Israel, and that the US-Israel relationship - like the US commitment to Israel's security - is unshakeable.  But both said a lot more that was probably a lot harder for some people to hear...

Go to Hebron

Go to Hebron. Observe how several hundreds of ultra-national Israeli settlers, a minority in a Palestinian town of 160,000 - have turned the lives of its Palestinians residents into a living hell.

Go to Hebron. Look at how a small Jewish minority rules over an oppressed Arab majority and you will see why Israel needs a two-state solution in order to survive in the future as a democratic Jewish state.

Still Skeptical about Bibi

In his speech to AIPAC last night, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described his approach to Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace.  The speech left all of us at APN skeptical about the sincerity of the Prime Minister's commitment to peace - a commitment that will be judged not by Netanyahu's skill in laying out his own "peace paradigm" but by his policies and actions.  Specifically,

Bibi's Triple Track

Reading Netanyahu's (link has expired) speech at AIPAC in which he promised to pursue a "triple track" towards peace, I was reminded of an op-ed that Yossi Beilin penned in February.

L.A. Jewish Journal: "The Good Doctor"

Editor Rob Eshman's column is devoted to his meeting with Dr. Abuelaish, arranged by Americans for Peace Now

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

His speech at Kehilla was sponsored by the synagogue, Americans for Peace Now and the Bay Area chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

ACTION ALERT: Speak up for Peace

This is an important week. Phone your Representative and Senators to say that the real pro-Israel agenda is one that promotes peace.
Kick-off event was a seminar in April for youth ages 15-17 from across Israel. See photo.
Write your Representative and Senators! Support needed on Capitol Hill for the Middle East-related provisions of President Obama's budget request...

IPS: "AIPAC Conference Comes Amid Turmoil"

The Jewish group Americans for Peace Now, which is opposing the legislation, stated that it "risks weakening, rather than strengthening, the President's hand as he begins engagement with Iran".

May 4, 2009 - Vol. 10, Issue 33

Q's: US-backed Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, and Israel reciprocity; Elections in Iran and Lebanon; Withdraw of Israeli forces from the village of Ghajar...
An evening of film, discussion and learning about Jerusalem and the layers of this holy, ancient and capital city and diverse metropolis
Abuelaish...was brought to Piedmont by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and Americans for Peace Now,...and Kehilla.

JTA: "Turn `Jewish State' into a `Jewish Joke'"

The next time Benjamin Netanyahu or anyone else makes "recognizing Israel as a Jewish state" a prerequisite to negotiations or anything else: Make fun of him.
David Pine, West Coast regional director of Americans for Peace Now, said that Abuelaish felt energized by the discussion.
The Israeli watchdog groups Peace Now and Ir Amim urged President Barack Obama to step in quickly and pressure Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to halt further settlement expansion...
Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now said that "this kind of rational approach toward Palestinian governance and Hamas partaking in it is long overdue."

APN Legislative Round-Up - May 1, 2009

1. Bills and Resolutions; 2. Secretaries Clinton and Gates on the Hill; 3. Dodd-Isakson Dear Colleague on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process; 4. APN on Iran Sanctions Bills; 5. Berman on the Record on HR 2194; 6. AIPAC on New Iran Sanctions Bills

Heavy Heart and Hope in Tel Aviv

In the next two weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu will try to do the impossible: to devise a peace initiative that is substantial enough to avert a major conflict with the Obama administration, yet conservative enough to avoid the breakup of his government coalition.

Always Longing for the Proposal Recently Rejected

Jetlagged, over the weekend in Jerusalem, I had time to scan the dailies' special Independence Day supplements. There was quite a lot to read, including a retrospective re-evaluation of Israel's Declaration of Independence in Yedioth Ahronoth and a charming reportage in Maariv that focused on beautiful places and people across the country. I was especially moved by Yair Lapid's essay in Yedioth, headlined "I Have Another Dream."

This week saw the introduction of new major Iran sanctions legislation in the form of HR 2194 and S. 908, "the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act."  The bill is likely to be the main focus of AIPAC lobbying efforts during their Policy Conference next week.  Indeed, AIPAC has already published a (link has expired) FAQ sheet in support of the bill.  In introducing the House version of the bill, Chairman Berman (D-CA) (link has expired) made clear that he did not intend to move the bill in the near future.

APN strongly opposes this legislation and sent a message to all Hill offices this morning laying out our concerns.  That message stated:

Next week a major lobbying effort will get underway in support of new Iran sanctions legislation in both houses of Congress - HR 2194 and S. 908.  I want to make sure you know that Americans for Peace Now (APN) opposes these bills.  We urge members to refrain from cosponsoring them and to urge their leaderships to make a public commitment that these bills will be kept off the legislative agenda.