To return to the new Peace Now website click here.

August 2009 Archives

August 31, 2009- Vol. 10, Issue 46

Settlement Freeze is a Means to Peace; How to Freeze Settlement; Standing with Peace Now; Calling Uncle Sam; Israeli Coalition Crisis Brewing Over Outposts; Fayyad's Positive Thinking

The Israeli security expert answers questions about rebel fighting in northern Yemen, a Syrian-proposed regional alliance, and the indictment of former Prime Minister Olmert.

JTA Blogs: "Don't believe what you read?"

By Eric Fingerhut ยท August 27, 2009

Lara Friedman at Americans for Peace Now blasts a Haaretz report today that the United States has dropped its demand for a settlement freeze in eastern Jerusalem. She notes that the writer of the story, Barak Ravid, "has repeatedly reported rumor and spin as news (including his reporting, not once but twice, that the Israeli Ambassador in Washington was 'summoned' to the State Department, when both times this is not what happened, as confirmed by other journalists)":

Peace Now says court's intervention required before buildings become 'another testament to demise of rule of law as it applies to Israeli population in West Bank'

READ Articles from Ynet & The Jerusalem Post

High-Stakes Poker and Jerusalem: Beware of the Bluff (and the spin)

Today's Haaretz features an article headlined "U.S. drops demand for Israel building freeze in East Jerusalem."  A surprisingly authoritative-sounding headline, given the leak-free approach of the Mitchell team thus far. 

Savvy consumers of the news - including members of the peace camp who may be fearful that the Obama Administration, like so many US administrations that have gone before it, will eventually give in to Israel on these key issues - would do well to remember that in this kind of high-stakes political poker, a lot of what we hear in the press is spin (and bluffing). And we would all do well to wait and see what is actually agreed before passing judgment. If the agreement is good - however it is framed - then we will praise it.  If it is bad, there will be plenty of opportunity to criticize it at that time.

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran: Criteria for A Meaningful Settlement Freeze

Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now's Settlement Watch, has an important analysis over at the Huffington Post laying out the criteria for a meaningful settlement freeze.   In a nutshell, she writes that a freeze must:

(a) have no loopholes -- (for more on loopholes, see our "5 Bogus Reasons for Opposing a Settlement Freeze),
(b) be transparent, especially with respect to any construction that Israel insists on "completing" despite the freeze;
(c) not include anything that could be interpreted as US permission or approval for any settlement construction -- now or in the future -- anywhere, and not include anything that could be interpreted as establishing new "understandings" about where Israel thinks it can build, and
(d) apply not only to construction but also planning. 

Perhaps the most important take-away from her analysis is the following:  yes, we'd prefer a freeze that includes every single structure and is permanent.  But let's remember:  a freeze is not an end in itself.  The goal here is to get a freeze that is politically significant and sufficiently credible to help launch serious negotiations that, if they succeed, will render the details of the freeze irrelevant, since a final status agreement will resolve the issue, once and for all.  A freeze that at a minimum meets the criteria laid out by Hagit, while not the perfect airtight freeze we would love to see -- for Israel's own sake -- would nonetheless be politically significant and sufficiently credible to help launch such negotiations.  For this reason, we would gladly support such a freeze.

"Israel says it is nearing agreement with the US on settlement building in the occupied West Bank, after its PM held talks with a US envoy in London."

Aug. 26, 2009

by Shimon Shiffer et al.

In the course of his meeting with Brown, Netanyahu said that he would keep his promise to allow normal life to continue for the settlers. In other words, construction would continue to expand current settlements as well as public facilities -- but no new settlements would be created.

Hagit Ofran 186x140.jpg

by Hagit Ofran, Peace Now Settlement Watch Director

Posted: August 26, 2009 04:00 PM

Following the meeting between US Senator Mitchell and Israeli PM Netanyahu, it seems that Israel and the US are getting close to some kind of agreement or understanding about a settlement freeze.

A settlement freeze is one of the key factors in order to enable a resumption of peace talks.

Unfortunately, I doubt I have to begin to look for another job. Settlement activity will always be one of the most important issues on the political agenda of our region.

APN mourns Senator Kennedy

Ted Kennedy 186x140.jpgAmericans for Peace Now today mourns the passing of a Senator Edward Kennedy, a long-time advocate of peace for Israel.

As far back as 1989, in a letter to APN, Senator Kennedy articulated a position that still rings true today:

8/25/09 (online service) by Yehoshua Breier -- On the eve of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, in which the two men will discuss a settlement construction freeze, among other issues, today the Binyamin Regional Council has scheduled a tour for construction contractors in the settlement Neriya.


By Chaim Levinson, Haaretz Correspondent

Defense Minister Ehud Barak intends to evacuate all unauthorized West Bank outposts within weeks.

"The defense minister has declared a number of times that the evacuation of illegal outposts is our obligation as a democratic state," Barak's office said in a statement released Tuesday. "This is a process which will be implemented in weeks, not years."

Ynet: "MKs, leftists tour West Bank outposts" followed by JTA: "Left-wing Israeli lawmakers visit outposts" & Ha'aretz: "Left-wing activists and MKs tour outposts, call for them to come down By Chaim Levinson, Haarez Correspondent"

What is Berman saying about settlements?

I just sent this call to action out to our activists who live in Rep. Howard Berman's district.

Dear Friend,

According to an article in Sunday's Haaretz newspaper, during a closed-door meeting with L.A. Jewish leaders on August 14th Rep. Howard Berman said that the Obama administration is "mistaken" in demanding Israel completely freeze construction in the settlements.  

US Christian Group Raising Funds to Block the Two-State Solution

Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC) - a US non-profit organization dedicated to supporting settlements, and especially settlements in the West Bank heartland - is raising funds these days using a very simple message: help us block the two-state solution.  And we are not talking small money here: according to CFOIC's tax filings, in 2008 the group sent $1.1 million in cash support for West Bank settlers (as well as for settlers removed from Gaza).

CFOIC's latest fundraising pitch (click here to view/download a copy), sent out in an email this morning, ends with the following exhortation:

"Today even many who support Israel's right to exist and to have safe and secure borders have adopted the two-state solution concept.  But even if the whole world should choose this as the answer, as all major governments have, God's children must never compromise. Our only real choice is to stand firm on the word of God!  I choose to stand with the residents of Judea and Samaria. Will you join me? Even in these tough economic times, by making a generous contribution to support the people of Judea and Samaria, the people who are standing on God's word by living on His land, you, too, are choosing to stand on His word and to be blessed!Stand with Israel and Donate Now..."

For more fun from CFOIC, check out their "Save Israel" video...

Internships at Americans for Peace Now

Americans for Peace Now is seeking interns to assist in the Washington, DC office for the Fall 2009 semester.
The Israeli security expert answers questions about a perceived disconnect between Washington and Israel on Middle East policy, and a batch of odd news items that cropped up during the August lull. 

ARTICLES from Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, AP, and Ynet appear below viedoes


Yariv Oppenheimer on IBA News - 8-24-09 186x140.jpgTwo videos embedded from Israel News (in English) about settlement construction, featuring Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer (pictured left), and Idan Goldberger.
Aug 23, 2009

Jerusalem - Israel and the Palestinians have been unable to reach a peace deal in the 16 years since the signing of the Oslo interim peace accords, and it is likely they will be not do so in the next 16 years, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday.


Ynet: "Minister Landau: Ya'alon was right - look at the Swedes"

by Roni Sofer

Government ministers slam Swedish organ harvesting report, while Yisrael Beiteinu's Landau lashes out at 'heavy damage caused to the State of Israel by Peace Now, the elites and the media.' Interior minister says won't grant work permits to Swedish newspaper's reporters
Ynet: "Peace Now: Landau inciting against Israel's Left"
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said in response to the minister of national infrastructure that "Uzi Landau is continuing a dangerous incitement campaign against Israel's Left and encouraging an atmosphere of violence".

Settlements Seen Clouding Netanyahu's Europe Trip

 JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Western demands to freeze settlement-building seem likely to dominate talks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold with the U.S. Middle East envoy and political leaders in Britain and Germany this week.
On the eve of the visit, Peace Now, an Israeli group opposed to Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory, said on Sunday that despite a government moratorium announced last week on approving new housing in the West Bank enclaves, more than 40,000 more homes could be built under plans already ratified.

Read articles from Ynet, Ha'aretz, Yedioth Achronoth, Jerusalem Post, JTA, and Reuters, Ynet.


Ya'alon hate-filled rhetoric

In a speech to Likud Party activists this week, Moshe Ya'alon -- Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs -- lashed out at Peace Now.

In order to save Israel, Ya'alon said, "we must deal with the issue of the virus that is Peace Now and, if you will, the elites. Their damage is very great. From my point of view, Jews should live in every part of the Land of Israel forever."

Some responses to Ya'alon's anti-Peace Now rhetoric

Israeli Minister Moshe Ya'alon's rhetoric equating the Israeli Peace Now movement with a virus have drawn reaction from across the political spectrum in Israel. Here's a small sample:

Posted: August 20, 2009 03:17 PM

President Obama, following his meeting with President Mubarak, said yesterday: "There has been movement in the right direction" referring to the reports in the Israeli media that the government of Israel agreed to freeze construction in the settlements and not to issue new construction-tenders until the end of 2009. On one hand, we should be happy, because such a freeze proves that even an extreme right wing government cannot ignore the White House and run wild and build in the territories without limits. But on the other hand, the tenders which the government is freezing, are only a small part of the construction in the territories. On the ground there are several projects under construction in the settlements.

By Ron Bousso (AFP) - 8/20/09

JERUSALEM -- Israel's hawkish premier on Tuesday agreed to curtail construction in the occupied West Bank in a gesture to Washington that critics said fell far short of US demands for a settlement freeze.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias agreed no new tenders for settlement construction in the West Bank should be issued until early 2010.


By Yossi Verter, Haaretz Correspondent

Why has ex-IDF chief Ya'alon allied himself to a far-rightist who Netanyahu called 'cancer' within Likud?

Had we not seen it, we would not have believed it: The vice prime minister, a senior Likud member and close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a member of the six-member diplomatic-security forum, hanging around with the man whom Netanyahu tried with all his might to oust from Likud, the man Netanyahu defines as "a cancer at the
heart of the movement."

Thu Aug 20, 2009

Obama urges Israel, Palestinians and Arab states to act

* Obama call follows conversation with Jordan's king

* Israel, Arabs disagree on who should make first move (Adds details and quotes)

By Matt Spetalnick

Pisgat Ze'ev Tenders Map 320x265.jpgIs something new happening in the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev?

Yes. According to a report in yesterday's Hebrew-language business daily "The Marker", the Israel Lands Authority has decided to accept "appeals" by contractors relating to the failed Pisgat Ze'ev tenders, and award contracts for the construction of at least 450 new units.  An image of the article from the print version of The Marker (Hebrew-only) can be viewed/downloaded here.,0,717563.story

Israel's prime minister has defended such projects in the West Bank. But officials say he is also quietly seeking a compromise that would facilitate a revival of peace talks with Palestinians.

By Richard Boudreaux
August 19, 2009

Time: "Huckabee's First 2012 Campaign Stop: Israel",8599,1917389,00.html

By Matthew Kalman / Har Bracha Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009

Har Bracha -- the Mount of Blessing -- is a windswept hilltop settlement of Jews overlooking the Palestinian city of Nablus. According to biblical tradition, it is where Joshua and the children of Israel first entered the Holy Land. And, on Aug. 18, Mike Huckabee -- a Baptist preacher, two-time governor of Arkansas and once and perhaps future Republican presidential candidate -- received a heartfelt blessing from the local Orthodox Jewish minister.

Minister of Strategic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon (Likud) is absolutely, defiantly, and unequivocally "not afraid of the Americans."  Good to know, though this does ring with a certain "the man doth protest too much" tone.  As does his I-couldn't-care-less about them indictment of Peace Now and its Settlement Watch program, which he labels "a virus." 

Apparently he is unaware that "viral" in the current day-and-age carries less the sense of something evil and hard to get rid of, and more the sense of something that is catching and spreading in popularity at an extremely rapid rate.  Like last year's Obama Girl video.  Or in this case, like the information that Peace Now's Settlement Watch has been and continues to be extraordinarily effective at getting to the public on Israel's settlement activities. 

Christians United for Israel?


Last month, members of the largest pro-Israel lobbying organization in the country gathered in Washington, DC. And no, I'm not talking about AIPAC. 4,000 evangelical Christians participated in Christians United for Israel's (CUFI) 4th annual Washington Summit on July 20-22, hearing from speakers such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), and spending a day lobbying on Capitol Hill.

August 18, 2009

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli officials reportedly have agreed to freeze construction in the West Bank until the beginning of 2010.

JTA first reported the unofficial freeze on July 6.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias have agreed to a moratorium on building in the settlements in order to give the peace process a chance to move forward, several news outlets reported this week.

Tue Aug 18, 2009

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refrained from initiating new housing projects in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, hoping to reach common ground with Washington, a government minister said on Tuesday.

"Since the government was established five months ago, no tenders have been issued for Judea and Samaria," Housing Minister Ariel Atias said, referring to government invitations for bids for new construction in West Bank settlements.

AP: "Israeli officials: New West Bank projects frozen"

Source: (link has expired)

By MATTI FRIEDMAN (AP) - 8/18/09

JERUSALEM -- Israel has quietly stopped approving new building projects in the West Bank while publicly still refusing U.S. demands for an official settlement freeze, government officials said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama's administration has pushed Israel to shelve all settlement construction to allow peace talks to go forward, a demand Israel has said it cannot accept. The issue has grown into a rare public disagreement between the two close allies.

APN Ad for August, 2009

Take what the ad says to heart (and fingers), and share your ideas by way of a comment here, and especially in response to the many posts in the Peace Now Blog and other items on the Website.


AP's Matti Friedman today report separately on a story that keeps popping up: the growing national-religious trend in the IDF and what appears to be the evangelical national-religious influence of the IDF's chief rabbi, who is a West Bank settler.  Friedman reports concerns that "that the military rabbinate and its charismatic chief, Brig.Gen. Avichai Rontzki, are infusing a militant mix of Judaism and nationalism into a traditionally secular institution that embodies the Israeli consensus."  Similar analysis was published previously in Haaretz and other Israeli papers, as well as in the New York Times, including a remarkable open letter from two reservists protesting the religious-nationalist indoctrination efforts...,7340,L-3763339,00.html


US Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's visit to disputed east Jerusalem building site at Shepherd Hotel met with demonstrations from both sides of political spectrum as some 150 right- and left-wing protestors gather outside site. MK Uri Ariel: We are building and will continue to build in Jerusalem. Peace Now: Part of larger plan to commandeer east Jerusalem
by Ronen Medzini

Today, Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann, of the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, circulated his observations on Mike Huckabee's East Jerusalem adventure (or better yet, adventurism) and what it says about Jerusalem and President Obama's peace efforts.  Read the full analysis after the jump...

Aug. 16, 2009

A Monday reception featuring former US presidential hopeful and leading Republican politician Mike Huckabee at the Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem has turned into a hotly contested venue for protests both for and against Israeli policy in the area.

Two groups - Peace Now and Im Tirtzu - have called for a protest and counter-protest, respectively, on Monday evening, to coincide with the former Arkansas governor's planned appearance at the disputed east Jerusalem landmark. The groups represent either side of the growing debate over Jewish building rights in the annexed parts of the capital.

Jo-Ann Mort, CEO of ChangeCommunications, is an Executive Committee Member of Americans for Peace Now and often writes about Israel and Palestinian issues

14TH AUGUST 2009 -- ISSUE 161

Palestine's warring leaders have long kept their own people under siege--but as Hamas's popularity wanes, there is fresh hope for the peace process

By all accounts the Fatah Party Congress earlier this month--the first in 20 years--was a big success. It showed democracy in action, the type that the White House would no doubt like to see throughout the Arab world, with real debate and clean elections. But it was as much about who was not in the meetings room in Bethlehem on 4th-6th August as it was about those in attendance. And those who were not in attendance are as critical to Fatah's success--and that of the Palestinian nationalist camp that Fatah represents--as those who were.

Jo-Ann Mort, CEO of ChangeCommunications, is an Executive Committee Member of Americans for Peace Now and often writes about Israel and Palestinian issues

August 14, 2009

Despite being imprisoned in Israel, Marwan Barghouti proved his popularity at the Fatah party congress. Here's why the politician holds promise for his party and Hamas -- as well as Palestine and Israel in general.

By all accounts, the Fatah party congress held in Bethlehem from Aug. 4 to 11 -- the first in 20 years for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' party -- was a success.

The Two-State Solution: Never About Solving Everything

Like many people I know, I spent a lot of time wrestling with how to react to the recent New York Times op-ed by Rob Malley (who I know well and admire tremendously) and Hussein Agha, entitled "The Two-State Solution Doesn't Solve Anything."  Fundamentally, while I respect the sincerity of their analysis, I think they got it wrong.  Here's why:

An unconventional missive hits Jerusalem


It is sitting right in front of me. A three-page cable from Boston to Jerusalem sent by consul-general Nadav Tamir expressing concern for Israel's international image following recent clashes with the US administration. I have read secret diplomatic cables for 30 years and I can testify that this is the kind of report professional diplomacy was created for.

Without seeing the current diplomatic correspondence (as I am no longer a government official), I can say that this is one of the most important cables sent by an Israeli diplomat this year - or maybe even this decade.

The 'West-Bankization' of Israel?

From Washington Jewish Weekly
By Ori Nir

Israelis were recently appalled by reports of sadistic hazing in the Israel Defense Forces' tank corps. Israeli newspapers uncovered routine patterns of beating, lashing, severe humiliation and other forms of brutal behavior toward new recruits.

But it seems that few were truly surprised. In the eyes of many, the story was depicted as one more expression of the growing brutalization of the IDF and of Israeli society. Hardly a day goes by without a murder, a road-rage related stabbing, a heartbreaking case of domestic violence, a Mafia-style drive-by shooting or an incident of teen violence.

Mike Huckabee *hearts* East Jerusalem Settlers

Haaretz is reporting today that former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will be the guest at a huge "in-your-face-nyah-nyah-there's-nothing-the-Palestinians-or-lefties-can-do-to-stop-use" banquet at the Shepherd's Hotel -- the recently-approved Irving Moskowitz settlement project in the heart of the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. For further details, see Maariv's take on the story, after the break (which mentions the settlers' plan for a major PR effort aimed at Americans, including bringing in movie stars!).

APN to Signers of Bayh/Risch Letter: Clarify Your Position

Bayh-Risch letter.jpg
As has been widely reported, 71 Senators signed onto the AIPAC-backed Bayh-Risch letter. APN had serious concerns about the letter, and we urged members to refuse to sign it until/unless it was first amended.  We are pleased that apparently many senators shared our concerns, forcing the letter's backers to hold the letter open 5 days longer than originally intended and requiring them to exert tremendous efforts, and expend a great deal of political capital, to achieve this number of signers.

Aug. 12, 2009

The Civil Administration has issued stop-work orders on 12 modular homes that it claims have been illegally placed at the edge of a street on a hilltop within the Kochav Ya'acov settlement.

Rumors swirled on Wednesday that the Civil Administration had issued demolition orders on the homes, of which at least two are already inhabited by newly arrived French immigrants. The Civil Administration said it had not yet done so, but planned to pursue the matter of the illegal homes.

Middle East Peace Report


August 10, 2009- Vol. 10, Issue 45

News and analysis from the Israeli and Arab press that goes beyond the American headlines:

THE FIRST IN MANY YEARS: Palestinian delegates traveled to Bethlehem from around the Arab world last week to participate in Fatah's 6th conference, the first held in 20 years, and the first ever held on Palestinian soil.


The leaked cable that Israel's Consul General in Boston, Nadav Tamir, sent to his superiors in Jerusalem last week is still reverberating in Israel and the U.S.In the confidential cable, which was leaked to the Israeli media, Tamir harshly criticized the Israeli government for escalating its disagreements with Washington's regional peace initiative.

The Tamir Affair: Kill the Messenger

I sat down to write how troubling I found the reaction of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman to the leaked cable sent by Israel's Consul General in Boston, Nadav Tamir.


I was going to write about the objectionable "kill the messenger" syndrome (see the case of the Israeli government's efforts to silence "Breaking the Silence"), about the danger to Israeli democracy and the damage to the professionalism of Israeli representatives abroad (Tamir is an outstanding professional).

Some Good News from Fatah's General Assembly

Some of the large Jewish groups were quick to cry "gevalt" at Fatah's General Assembly in Bethlehem even before the conference ended. Granted, there were inflammatory speeches and some disturbing displays of anti-Israeli sentiment.



August 10, 2009- Vol. 10, Issue 45


The Sherman Solution

Last month, the Jerusalem Post reprinted an article by APN's president and CEO, Debra DeLee, in which she explained why the Obama administration is so keen on an Israeli settlement freeze and recommended that Israel's government work with President Obama to advance peace. 

The article prompted a frothing-at-the-mouth reaction by Martin Sherman, whose tagline is the "academic director of the Jerusalem Summit and lectures in security studies at Tel Aviv University."

Disappointed with the ADL

Abraham Foxman
National Director 
Anti-Defamation League
605 3rd Ave. New York NY 10158

Dear Mr Foxman:

In response to your full page ad in the New York Times:


You know the problem isn't Arab Rejection -  it's borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.  The issue is not Arab and Palestinian rejection of Israel's right to exist - that issue was settled in Madrid, Oslo, diplomatic relations with Egypt & Jordan and the Arab Initiative.

Register for J Street Conference Here

Americans for Peace Now is a participating organization in JStreet's Conference for progressive pro-Israel, pro-peace advocates.


Fatah's sixth convention in Bethlehem has attracted considerable
attention, due to internal battles among its factions and members of the
movement's leadership. But these battles have focused on taking control
of key positions within the movement and on constitutional issues. They
skipped almost completely over Fatah's approach to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yariv Oppenheimer - JPost Blog Thumbnail 2.jpg

Posted by Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now Secretery General

Thursday Aug 06, 2009 
At its convention in Bethlehem this week, Fatah refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or adopt Hebrew as its official language, and didn't conclude with a rendition of HaTikva (Israel's national anthem). What a disappointment, what a blow to the champions of peace.

Solidarity_Rally1.jpgIsrael's Peace Now movement and Americans for Peace Now express solidarity with the gay and lesbian community in Israel, following the attack on the gay youth center in Tel Aviv, and strongly reject the intensifying violence and intolerance within Israeli society.

APN podcast with the Jordanian Foreign Minister

2009-08-05-ForeignMinisterNasserJudeh_186.jpgJordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh tells APN that he supports "sequential, reciprocal, concurent" measures to be taken by Israel and the Arab world in support of credible negotiations of a regional peace deal, but comments that no "unilateral action" should be taken, which might undermine peace efforts.

Interview with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh

Interveiw with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (12 min., 52 sec.)


Listen to the audio

Action Alert: Tell the ADL to stand for peace for Israel


On August 4, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published a full page ad in the New York Times challenging President Barack Obama's approach to bringing peace to Israel.

The ad urged the Obama administration to stop pressuring Israel over settlements. "The settlements are not the impediment," it claimed.

The ADL Should Reconsider

The ADL's ad in yesterday's New York Times (August 4, 2009) was troubling. My colleague, Ori Nir -- who has known ADL National Director Abe Foxman for years -- wrote a heartwrenching post in response, concluding that:

A powerful editorial in Haaretz on this past weekend's evictions in Sheikh Jarrah:

Excerpt:  "A democratic state that strives for peace and justice simply has no right to uproot families who became refugees in 1948. They left homes in West Jerusalem behind them, and were subsequently granted modest accommodations by the Jordanian government. The claim that the houses in Sheikh Jarrah were purchased by Jews in the early 1900s is a double-edged sword that opens a political and legal Pandora's box."

Foxman's Red Herring

Abe Foxman is a smart person, a responsible person, an honorable person with a strong moral core. I have known him for years and I respect him.


August 4, 2009

Broad condemnation of the eviction of Palestinians in east Jerusalem reflects growing international anger over settlements

by Ian Black

It isn't necessary to be unduly cynical to wonder exactly what it takes for British diplomats to be "appalled" by anything. But that was the reaction to Israel's eviction of Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah - the ugly face of ethnic cleansing and the creation of new "facts on the ground" that make nonsense of hopes for any movement in the moribund peace process.

Ma'ariv: "Outpost Vacations"

Aug 4, 2009

by Roi Sharon -- Clear air, a desert view, a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi and an ecological environment. This is not a moshav in the Arava, not even an hotel on the Dead Sea--but rather an outpost beyond the Green Line, in eastern Binyamin. After the settlements realized that they could also make money from tourism, recently even the illegal outposts have begun to offer B&Bs. In the outpost of Mitzpe Hagit in the Judean Desert, and also a few kilometers north of there in the Keda outpost, two guest cabins were put up that overlook the Jordan Valley.

A Civil War in Israel Over the Settlements?

By Robert Freedman

      In the past few weeks as rumors of a possible US-Israeli deal for a partial West Bank settlement freeze have surfaced, opposition to such an agreement  has grown in orthodox Religious Zionist and right-wing circles in Israel. This opposition has not only threatened to exacerbate tensions between orthodox and non-orthodox  Jews in Israel and in  the United States, but also to create the conditions for a civil war in Israel.

WASHINGTON -- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said Israel's evictions of Palestinian families from east Jerusalem are "deeply regrettable" and urged the close US ally to refrain from such "provocative" actions.

Obama/Mitchell to launch press offensive on peace efforts

The New York Times reported yesterday that President Obama and Special Envoy Mitchell have decided that it is time (finally) to launch some public diplomacy in support of their Middle East peace efforts.  This is great news. Until now, Obama and Mitchell have left it to Israeli officials (who appear to view leaking as a full-contact sport), skeptics/opponents of pressure on Israel in the US (especially in the Jewish community), and journalists (who are happily eating up the spin of the former two groups, in the absence of any counter-spin from US officials) to frame the public discussion of the issue.  Indeed, the NYT reports that the campaign, "amounts to a reframing of a policy that people inside and outside the administration say has become overly defined by the American pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction on the West Bank." All we can say is: Kol hakavod. 

Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst, co-founder and co-editor of the Israeli-Palestinian internet dialogue and Middle East roundtable He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and a former senior official with the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency. His views do not necessarily reflect those of Americans for Peace Now or Peace Now.

Secretary Gates' trip to Israel; a plan for US sanctions on Iran; Arab reluctance to offer normalization measures to Israel; potential revival of Israel-Lebanon peace talks

You can't have it both ways

by Leonard Fein

In the course of what was likely intended as a critique of the Obama administration's Middle East policies -- specifically, its pressure on Israel regarding West Bank settlements -- Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, last week made an astonishing admission. 

As many of his colleagues at the helm of major American Jewish organizations, Foxman has over the years by and large been a conventional apologist for Israel. Now and then, he has staked out a somewhat independent course, but last week brought a full-throated, if inadvertent, reversal.

Deterioration of Support for Democractic Values in Israel...

Sad but not surprising news today regarding the health of democratic values in Israel, as reflected in the Israel Democracy Institute just-released annual Democracy Index (full report only available in Hebrew and Russian so far).  YNet reports:

On freedom of expression:  "The Israeli public believes in freedom of expression as a general value, but for the most part refuses to allow harsh criticism to be expressed against the state. 74% support 'Freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of their opinions.' However, 58% agree that "political speech should not be permitted to express harsh criticism of the state of Israel.' This is a significant increase as compared to 48% in 2003."

Ha'aretz: "More than a theme park" by Jo-Ann Mort

Jo-Ann Mort, CEO of ChangeCommunications, is an Executive Committee Member of Americans for Peace Now and often writes about Israel and Palestinian issues

The mantra of many in the Jewish community, and especially of the current Israeli government, that Jerusalem is the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people, does nothing to resolve the current stalemate over the city's status. Nor does saying those words make Jerusalem truly undivided. Most Jews - including those who live there - never experience the full breadth and depth of Jerusalem. Rather, they stop at the imaginary line where a wall once divided west from east before 1967, as if it were still a divided city.

"...other more reliably pro-peace organisations in the Jewish American community like Americans for Peace Now and J-Street have made support of Obama's stand on the settlements a centrepiece of their increasingly successful nationwide organising."

Free Marriage Counseling

Israel and America are having one of those periodic marital spats they have had over the years, replete with "I-am-not-taking-any-more-of-your-guff" outbursts by Obama officials at American Jewish leaders, and, yes -- it wouldn't be a real Israel-U.S. dust-up without it -- Israeli accusations that Jewish Obama aides are "self-hating Jews," working out their identity crises by working over Israel. Having been to this play before, and knowing both families, I'd like to offer some free marriage counseling.

Peace Now claims that the entire outpost is built on private Palestinian land. The larger petition against the outpost, which has 17 permanent homes and 15 caravans, was filed by eight Palestinian farmers from the village of El Khader, together with Peace Now.


Mail & Guardian: "Obama's litmus test"

Yariv Oppenheimer, the secretary general of Peace Now, is not optimistic about a peace breakthrough. If the regional settlement sought by Obama was to be attained, Oppenheimer said, Israel needed a "big leader" such as Ariel Sharon.