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October 2009 Archives

Rabbi Eric Yoffie 186x140.jpgToo many American Jewish groups have their heads in the sand when it comes to the damage the settlement project has done to Israel. They embrace those on the American religious right who endorse settlement as a religious principle, without realizing that the influence of these groups is declining.

Settlements Panel from J Street

I had the honor of moderating a fantastic panel that kicked off the first day of discussions at J Street's conference last Monday. It was an honor to moderate the panel, which Americans for Peace Now sponsored and organized, because the participants were leading authorities on the settlement enterprise and on settlement politics.
1. Bills and Resolutions
2.  House Foreign Affairs Committee Marks Up Major Iran Sanctions Legislation...
3.  ...While Senate Banking Committee Marks Up Omnibus Iran Sanctions Bill
4.  APN on H. Res. 867 (the Goldstone Resolution)
5.  Judge Goldstone on H. Res. 867
6.  APN Interns' Notes from the House IRPSA Mark-Up
7.  Key quotes from the Dodd Iran Sanctions Hearing

Advice to President Obama

In this video, my colleague Lara Friedman discusses the challenges and opportunities President Barack Obama faces in pursuing peace for Israel.

APN on H. Res. 867 (the Goldstone Resolution)

Today APN issued the following statement regarding H. Res. 867, the resolution introduced in the House of Representatives "Calling on the President and Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the 'Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora:"

Haaretz Editorial: Pursue Peace with Syria

Today's editorial in Israel's Haaretz makes some important points regarding the dormant Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. Worth reading:

A Lesson from the Rabin Assassination

Rabin with flag 320x265.jpgAmerican baby-boomers will always remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Israelis, who today are marking the 14th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, will always remember where they were when Rabin was murdered by an Israeli religious-nationalist Jew, determined to undermine the peace efforts of Rabin's government.

The talk and the press reports over the last few months about settlement construction and a settlement freeze have left many confused.

If you listen to the Americans, well, you don't learn much, since they aren't leaking anything about their talks with Netanyahu, Barak, Molcho, and Herzog. So all we know for sure is that it is still the US policy to oppose all settlement activity and that the US expect Israel to stop the settlements. So far so good.
Hadar Susskind, director of policy and strategy for J Street, talks about the success of the conference here in Washington and about the ongoing cooperation between J Street and APN.
Another strategy would be to pitch peace in Israel not as a foreign policy issue but as a U.S. national-security issue. President Obama should approach peace as President Bush would approach a war. Or, as Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now puts it, as a "peace of necessity."

By Christopher Beam

Americans for Peace Now Salutes J Street Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 27, 2009 / CONTACT: Ori Nir - (202) 408-9898;

Washington, D.C.-- Americans for Peace Now (APN) today congratulated J Street, the political arm of America's pro-Israel peace movement, for its successful First National Conference.

"J Street succeeded to attract and mobilize a large number of peace activists, creating a historic moment for our movement."

APN Salutes J Street Conference

Hagit Podium J Street 09 186x140.jpgAPN congratulated J Street this week for its successful First National Conference.

APN was a participating organization for the conference and presented a session: "West Bank Settlements: Obstacles on the Road to Peace - A View From the Ground and From the Diplomatic Arena"

The attendance was standing-room-only to hear the panel which included Hagit Ofran, Peace Now Settlement Watch Director (pictured).
Alpher answers questions about the status of the Labor Party and the makeup of the Israeli governing coalition.

Jo-Ann Mort in TPM Cafe: Whose Israel is It?

For those who have not yet read it on TPM Cafe, here is a thought provoking blog posting by our Boar member, Jo-Ann Mort:

Whose Israel is It?

By Jo-Ann Mort - October 25, 2009,

I have spent the day in Washington, first at the Americans for Peace Now board meeting, where I am an officer, and later at the J Street conference, where I am a participant. I go to sleep tonight with this sentiment dancing on my brain: the promise of Israel needs to be embraced and supported, promoted and defended--fought for. That is not the case presently in much of American political discourse.

Breaking_News_2_320x265.jpgWashington D.C. APN's Board of Directors met here today and unanimously agreed to urge Israel's government to launch its own independent investigation of alleged violations of human rights and international law that may have taken place in the context of the Gaza war, including those documented in the United Nations Human Rights Council report on last winter's Gaza conflict,known as the "Goldstone Report."

Yes Mr. Ben-David, Arab Americans can work for peace.

Last week I blogged about Lenny Ben-David's outrageous personal attack on my friend Rebecca Abou-Chedid for committing an SPWBA - the terrible crime of supporting-peace-while-being-Arab.  But I should have known Rebecca does not need other people to defend her - she can explain herself eloquently, and has done so in a moving and courageous piece in Foreign Policy -- a piece in which her integrity and commitment shine through in every word.  And in doing so, with grace and respect, Rebecca shines an even brighter spotlight on the hateful pettiness of Ben-David and his ilk.  Way to go and Kol HaKavod, Rebecca!

Abbas Calls for New Elections -- A Look at the Polls

abbasvote3.jpgPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas set January 24, 2010 as the date for new elections for both the presidency and the legislature of the Palestinian Authority.

Monday's Middle East Peace Report took a look at recent polls of the Palestinian public.
Ori Nir Video Graphic 186x140.jpg
Recently, a gunman killed two young people at a Tel Aviv gay and lesbian center; a settler attacked Peace Now activists; Militants tried to assassinate Peace Now supporter Professor Zeev Sternhell.  Unfortunately, the list could go on.

APN's Ori Nir relates the increasing brutalization of Israeli society to incidents he witnessed while covering the West Bank as a reporter twenty years ago.

APN West Bank Settlement Map & Flyer

APN Map Graphic2 186x140.jpgGo HERE to see the APN-produced flyer with a map of the West Bank detailing:
  • Israeli and Palestinian areas
  • Settlements and outposts
  • Constructed and planned barrier route

Stopping the Brutalization of Israeli society

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has innumerable costs. One of them is the psychological stress on Israeli society, which is gradually becoming more violent and more brutal.

APN Events Featuring Special Guests from Israel

Yariv - Hagit - Akiva 320x265.jpgUpcoming APN events in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the S.F. Bay Area will feature:

Yariv Oppenheimer, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now, Israel) General Director (right)

Hagit Ofran, Shalom Achshav Settlement Watch Director (top left)

Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz Chief Political Columnist (bottom left)

Lenny Ben-David Plays the Race Card

Walking to work this morning I read Lenny Ben-David's anti-J Street rant on my blackberry (emailed to me on one of my right-wing listservs).  Given the author, I was not really surprised at anything I read -- disgusted, irritated, amused, but not surprised -- until I got to the paragraph attacking, by name, a dear friend of mine and a dear friend of the entire cause of Middle East peace:  the amazing, dynamic, universally liked and respected Rebecca Abou-Chedid.

And what does Ben-David attack Rebecca for?  Being of Arab descent and working for organizations that explicitly, publicly support Israeli-Palestinian peace and the two-state solution.  Outrageous. Intolerable.  I spent a good part of the day fuming.  And then I read Spencer Ackerman's response, and I felt a lot better.  I recommend it to all. 

Peace is the Answer to Israel's Increasing Isolation

Israel's deputy prime minister, Dan Meridor, spoke over the weekend in Washington about what he sees as the three chief foreign policy challenges that Israel faces today: Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Goldstone report.

Yariv Oppenheimer - 14 Years After.jpg

Alpher responds to questions on the UN Human Rights Council taking up the Goldstone Report, tension in the Turkish-Israeli relationship, and accusations that Prime Minister Abbas is a Holocaust denier.

Middle East Peace Report - October 19, 2009

Volume 11, Issue 6

Negotiations Now; Abbas' Popularity Plunges; Hamas Pushes Its Advantage; Stop with the Settlements Already; Israel-Turkey Tensions; Bringing the Holocaust to Gaza

What Arabs Think; What Arabs Do

Over the weekend, a handful of participants at the annual conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy were treated to a sneak peek of a new, large study of Arab behavior vis-à-vis the United States.
This excellent editorial speaks for itself...

Ha'aretz: "
Hilltop Double-talk"

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to battle the Goldstone report in the name of Israel's right to self-defense, and his envoys and the U.S. administration discuss terms for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians, his government is developing infrastructure in dozens of West Bank settlements. 

Winds of War at WINEP Panel on Iran

The second day of discussions at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's annual conference ended with winds of war.

There was disturbing unanimity on the opening panel of the annual conference of Washington's leading Mideast think tank Friday. The Obama administration's policy in the region is failing, all three panelists concurred.

Yariv Oppenheimer - 14 Years After.jpg

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending October 16, 2009

1.  Bills and Resolutions
2.  House passes Iran Sanctions Enabling Act
3.  IPRSA Set to Move Forward (in committee and on the floor)
4.  APN on IRPSA Developments
5.  Partisan Point-Scoring over IRPSA Continues
6.  Ros-Lehtinen Attacks Administration Over Goldstone Report
7.  Four House Republicans Launch Anti-Muslim Witch-Hunt

"The Peace Now movement last week reported that ground preparing work for the construction of 800 housing units was being carried out in 34 settlements."

By Akiva Eldar and Chaim Levinson

Human rights activists monitoring the West Bank report that despite commitments Israel made to President Barack Obama's administration last month, widespread building activity commenced three weeks ago in at least 12 settlements.

Ynet: "Carpenter in illegal outpost in Susiya"

Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said, "The outpost industry will stop at nothing in order to continue thriving."


Guard at ancient West Bank synagogue site builds illegal shed from which he carries out carpentry work defense officials believe is used for construction of caravans, outposts by settlers. Civil Administration says execution of demolition order pending authorization of political echelon

By Efrat Weiss 

Americans for Peace Now

invites you to a presentation and discussion with:

Akiva Eldar
Author and Ha'aretz journalist

Middle East Peace Report - October 13, 2009

Volume 11, Issue 5

A New Intifada?; A New Low for Israel's Regional Standing; A Nuclear Umbrella?; Extending the Olive Branch; Labor Pains; Time for Action on Iran

Washington event: United States, Israel, Settlements and Peace

Americans for Peace Now and the
Foundation for Middle East Peace

invite you to a presentation and discussion with:

Akiva Eldar
Author and Ha'aretz journalist


Hagit Ofran
Director, Settlement Watch
Peace Now (Shalom Achshav)

The United States, Israel, Settlements and Peace

October 28, 2009, 12-2:00pm
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Second Floor, Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC

Akiva Eldar is the co-author of the widely lauded Lords of the Land.  Mr. Eldar has been with the Israeli daily Ha'aretz for over thirty years, as a diplomatic correspondent, U.S. bureau chief, Washington DC correspondent and currently serves as the chief political columnist and editorial writer.

Hagit Ofran is the director of the Settlement Watch project for the Israeli Peace Now organization.  Ms. Ofran is widely recognized as the foremost Israeli expert on West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.  Ms. Ofran is responsible for monitoring and analyzing construction, planning and other settlement related developments in the occupied territories.

The highly acclaimed book, Lords of the Land by Akiva Eldar and Idith Zertal, will be sold at the event

A light lunch will be served.

Please RSVP to:

Alon Liel talks about the crisis in Israel-Turkey relations

**October 13, 2009** -Alon Liel, former director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Israeli ambassador to Turkey, talks about the crisis in Israel-Turkey relations and about the Israel's need for a credible peace process with the Palestinians in order to maintain strong relations with the international community. Listen to the audio

Don't let the spoilers decide

Moments ago I sent out the following call to action to APN's network of activists:

Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher responds to questions on the ramifications of a continuing US military presence in Afghanistan, the recent unrest in Jerusalem, and Abbas' decision not to demand UN action on the Goldstone report.

Ha'aretz: "Flirting with the apocalypse"

Co Authors Daniel Seidemann is a Jerusalem attorney and founder of Ir Amim, an Israeli nongovernmental agency, and Lara Friedman is director of policy and government relations for Americans for Peace Now.


Jerusalem has once again emerged in recent days as the focal point of dangerous tensions that threaten to erupt into violence or even a third intifada. Much of the media analysis has overlooked the fact that this situation did not arise out of a vacuum, but is the latest manifestation of tensions that have been steadily growing for months.

JTA: "Mideast peace push cited in Obama Nobel"

The first pro-Israel group to praise Obama was Americans for Peace Now.

"President Obama deserves recognition and praise for making Middle East peace a top U.S. foreign policy priority from his first moments in the Oval Office," said Ori Nir, its spokesman

By Ron Kampeas · October 9, 2009

(JTA) -- The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee cited President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world and his push for Israeli-Arab peace in explaining the shock decision.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending October 9, 2009

1.  New Bills and Resolutions
2.  Administration Officials Tell Senate Banking Committee: Not So Fast with IRPSA
3.  Israel and Iran in the Defense Authorization Bill
4.  More Partisan Point Scoring over IRPSA?

Nobel Committee Chairman with Picture of President Obama 186x140.jpgWashington, D.C - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today congratulated President Barack Obama for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and urged him to keep pushing for Middle East peace, viewing the prize as an international expression of confidence in his policy of engagement, negotiations and multilateralism, particularly in the Middle East.

Picture: Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee Thorbjorn Jagland holds a picture of President Obama.

America woke up today to a pleasant surprise: President Barack Obama is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.


I rushed the following quote to the news wires: "President Obama deserves recognition and praise for making Middle East peace a top U.S. foreign policy priority from his first moments in the Oval Office. We hope that winning the prestigious prize will further energize the President and his aides to push for peace between Israel and her neighbors."


JTA, the Jewish news service, noted that "The first pro-Israel group to praise Obama was Americans for Peace Now."


APN is on the record - in detail - explaining our concerns over proposed "crippling" sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's access to refined petroleum products (the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act - IRPSA).  Now the Obama Administration is much more clearly on the record on this issue, too, with Obama officials testifying 10/6/09 before the Senate Banking Committee over the issue of Iran and possible new sanctions (video of the hearing here; NIAC has posted broader analysis of the hearing here). 

And what Obama officials were saying about the sanctions -- including alluding to concerns that they would harm civilians rather than the government and could thus be counterproductive, and emphasizing the need for multilateral, rather than unilateral, action -- would seem to indicate that they share many of our concerns about this particular sanctions initiative. 

Key excerpts from the hearing are copied here:

Hagit Ofran is the director the Settlement Watch project of the Israeli Peace Now movement (Shalom Achshav). Read more at:


Last week, an incident that could have set the entire Middle East on fire was prevented. Netanyahu's secret plan to visit a disputed tunnel in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, at the site known as Ir David (the City of David), was canceled, probably with some international intervention. Am I exaggerating the danger? No.

Nokdim Settlement Construction 186x140.jpg

by Tovah Lazaroff , THE JERUSALEM POST

Peace Now charged Monday that settlers had accelerated the pace of construction and started work on more than 800 new homes in the last three months to thwart US demands that they stop building.


A government decision to oppose Peace Now's request for an interim injunction against the illegal construction of 15 houses in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Netafim, about 30 km. east of Tel Aviv, proved mistaken when building continued despite stop-work orders issued by the civil administration.

by Mohammed Mar'I, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Oct. 6--RAMALLAH -- The anti-settlement Israeli watchdog Peace Now on Monday said 800 housing units have been built in West Bank settlements in the last three months. The movement said in a press statement, after its activists toured a construction site in the West Bank settlement Nokdim not far from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's home,...

**October 5, 2009** -Tension in Jerusalem is high. Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem feel threatened by what they see as Israeli attempts to exclude them from the Holy Basin, surrounding the Temple Mount and al-Aksa Mosque, the third holiest site to Islam. From Jerusalem, Peace Now's Hagit Ofran analyzes the situation on the ground and comments on its political repercussions. Listen to the audio

Middle East Peace Report - October 5, 2009

Volume 11, Issue 4

Abbas Faces Domestic Fire for Pulling Punch; Winds of Intifada Blow in Jerusalem; In Reversal, High Court Freezes Settlement Construction; What Freeze?; Will Israel and Hamas Deal on Shalit?; Obama's Iran Strategy Yields Tentative Results

Jerusalem - Shuafat Friction2 10-09 320x265.jpg

CONTACT: Ori Nir (202) 408-9898

Washington, D.C - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today expressed alarm at the spiraling violence in Jerusalem and urged the Obama administration to take immediate action to help stop the deterioration.

"Recent history teaches us that clashes in Jerusalem have a tendency to ripple throughout the region..."

Clear and Present Danger in Jerusalem

Special analysis from Daniel Seidemann (Ir Amim) and Lara Friedman (Americans for Peace Now)

The recent violence on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif is only the latest indication of the rising level of tension in Jerusalem - tension that has been steadily increasing for months. The potential for a highly disruptive, violent conflagration in Jerusalem is more likely now than at any point since the visit of then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in September 2000, triggering the worst wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence since 1967. Indeed, as the world is coming to recognize, the current mix of destabilizing factors at play is hauntingly familiar - resembling the period that led to the outbreak of the second Intifada.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending October 2, 2009

1.  New Bills and Resolutions
2.  Playing Partisan Politics with Iran in the House of Representatives
3.  Non-Exhaustive List of Iran Sanctions Bills that Died in Previous Congresses
4.  Dodd Lays Out Plans for Omnibus Iran Sanctions Bill
5.  House Colloquy on Israel (and why settlements are not the issue) and Iran (and why it is just like Nazi Germany) 
Alpher responds to questions about the continuing captivity of Gilad Shalit and speculation on the development of a Middle East northern axis of power.

Letter on the impact of the occupation and in support of APN

Ori Nir 186x140.jpg

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ori Nir is the spokesman for Americans for Peace Now.  Previously, Ori worked for Haaretz Daily, Israel's leading newspaper, where he covered Palestinian affairs and Israel's Arab minority.  He also served as Washington bureau chief for Ha'aretz and the Forward, America's largest and most influential independent national Jewish weekly newspaper.

Gilad Shalit Video Released

Gilad Shalit2 from Video 9-24-09 186x140.jpgA video from September 14th of the captured Israeli St.-Srg. Gilad Shalit, held in Hamas captivity for more than 3 years, was released to the public following a deal which included Israel's release of 20 Palestinian female prisoners.  WATCH THE VIDEO that has raised hopes he can and will be freed from captivity.

Today's Talks with Iran: A Constructive Beginning

President Obama just made an important statement about the today's beginning of negotiations with Iran.

As I see it, President Obama's commitment to serious and meaningful engagement with Iran - including potential incentives for nuclear transparency - offers Teheran an opportunity that it did not have under the Bush administration for de-escalating its standoff with the international community.

Obama's statement regarding a constructive beginning of the talks with Iran should further prompt American friends of Israel to support the President's responsible strategy.

That's my view. I welcome your reactions.