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October 2010 Archives

Moderates in Miami

When it comes to radical discourse on Middle East policy, American university campuses are a fertile breeding ground. Zealots from both sides typically dominate the discourse.

But it is not unusual for moderate pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students to coalesce in constructive dialogue or to co-sponsor events on campus. In fact, as much as you find vociferous divisive, conflict-ridden discourse on American university campuses, you find constructive dialogue between young people who are trying to make sense and to infuse some sense into the discussion of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Earlier this week, I spoke at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, together with Ghaith al-Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine. Ghaith and I often talk to students to underscore the notion that relations between Israelis and Palestinians should not be - and are not - a zero-sum game, and that a two-state peace deal between Israel and a future Palestinian state is a win-win for all.
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We found a lovely group of Jewish and Arab students, who for several years have been meeting regularly, exploring each other's national, cultural and religious narratives, and finding common ground.

We are proud to be playing a role in the creation of a new, moderate, peace-seeking discourse on the Middle East on American campuses. 

Both Israelis and Palestinians want peace; both deserve it

The absurd argument that "the Palestinians" don't want peace and don't even need it is gradually infiltrating into the collective narrative of the Israeli status-quo camp and its supporters in the United States. Last week, columnist Stephen Kramer, who publishes a weekly Israel column in the New Jersey Jewish Times, contended that "the Palestinians don't want or need peace."

This week, APN publishes a rebuttal to Kramer's rant. Here it is:

We need more NPR, not less

radio.jpgThe crisis in the media industry has been most acutely felt in the decline of international coverage. Major newspapers and TV networks have closed foreign bureaus, major news media are relying solely on wire reports for international coverage, and airtime devoted to global affairs has declined significantly. Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, with two wars that the US is fighting overseas, America's news organizations have diminished rather than enhanced their international reporting infrastructure.

Kahane Supporters Celebrate the Triumph of Kahane's Ideas

This week Israeli/Jewish right-wing racism was on full, unapologetic display in Israel, as extremists (not all necessarily Israeli) gathered first in Jerusalem (Tuesday) and then held a deliberately provocative march through the Arab town of Umm al Fahm (Wednesday) - all to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of the 20th century's most influential Jewish extremist, Rabbi Meir Kahane. 

They also celebrated, triumphantly, their belief in the growing popularity and influence of Kahane's world-view in Israel.   Commenting on the event, longtime Kahane supporter and former Kach spokesman  Baruch Marzel (born in the US) said: "You can see a true awakening to Rav Kahane, because every year it's growing, every year more and more people are joining us."

At a time when Israel's democracy is being challenged by a (link has expired) stream of undemocratic legislative initiatives - from efforts to require loyalty oaths, to efforts to undermine progressive non-governmental organizations, to efforts to legalize discrimination in housing - the Kahanists' celebrations should give anyone who cares about Israel's democracy reason to worry.

See excerpts and links to:

Construction in Kiryat Arba 10-17-10 186x140.jpgCanadian Press: "Settler official confirms work has begun on up to 600 new homes in West Bank settlements"
VOA: "UN Envoy Condemns New West Bank Settlements"
MSNBC (Reuters): "Fearing new freeze, West Bank settlers rush to build"
NY Times: "In West Bank, Israeli Settler Building Rapidly Resumes";

Plus from The Christian Science Monitor, Democracy Now, AFP, Ha'aretz, BBC, CNN, and

Business Week: "Netanyahu in 'Close Contact' With U.S. on Peace Talks"

Questions are related to the ceremonies commemorating Yitzhak Rabin on the 15 year anniversary of his assassination; How Israelis relate to the latest Wikileaks revelations regarding violence in Iraq; and The effect of US midterm elections on the Israel-Arab peace process.

NPR Logo 138x46.gifIncludes coverage of Peace Now's report on post freeze settlement construction, and comments for Hagit Ofran, Peace Now Settlement Watch Director, including "...It seems that the settlers are building wherever they can and as much as they can." Click here to listen.

Please make your plans to join us for the Americans for Peace Now Co-Sponsored Breakfast Program on October 25th and hear from the special guest from Israel, who you've no doubt been reading (or will be now):

Bradley Burston
Senior Editor of and
uthor of the column "A Special Place in Hell"
Bradley Burston
Pro-Mideast in America: Getting Past
'Pro-Israel' and 'Pro-Palestine'
Monday, October 25, 2010, 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Factor's Famous Deli
9420 West Pico Boulevard, L.A.
Bagel Breakfast w/ Fish Platter: $15 (pay at door)
RSVP to: or 323-934-3480

Burston is a leading voice in the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement to Los Angeles, and will present his perspective on the current situation in Israel.

Sponsor: J Street; Co-Sponsors: APN, Meretz USA, Arbeter Ring, and Ameinu

Washington D.C. Screening of Budrus & Panel Discussion

Monday, November 1 ยท 7:00pm - 9:00pm
West End Cinema
2301 M Street NW Washington, DC

Just Vision, New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now and the American Task Force on Palestine are happy to invite you to a screening of the critically acclaimed film Budrus, at the newly reopened West End Cinema in Washington, DC.

The screening will be followed by an impressive panel including:

Ronit Avni, Founder and Executive Director of Just Vision and the Executive Producer of Budrus

Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy

Ori Nir
, Spokesperson, Americans for Peace Now, and former West Bank correspondent of Haaretz Daily

We hope to see you all on November 1st! 

Budrus is a documentary that tells the story of a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites his community members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women's contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Together, they unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat.

Theatrical trailer can be found HERE

NY Times: "Just Knock It Off" by Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman 186x140.jpg"...I know this is a crazy, radical idea -- when America asks Israel to do something that in no way touches on its vital security but would actually enhance it, there is only one right answer: "Yes." It is a measure of how spoiled Israel has become...Israel feels no compunction about spurning an American request for a longer settlement freeze -- the only purpose of which is to help the United States help Israel reach a secure peace with the Palestinians...

Read the entire article HERE
Pisgat Zeev Map 186x140.jpg The Jerusalem Settlement Pisgat Zeev (in blue) already walls in Palestinian Beit Hanina and Shuafat Refugee Camp (in gold).

Provided are excerpts from and links to these related articles:

AFP: "Israel plans 238 new settler homes in east Jerusalem"
Jerusalem Post: "State Department condemns east Jerusalem building" & "'Israel killing every opportunity to resume talks'"

YNET: "Thousands protest loyalty oath bill"

Loyalty Oath Protest 10-19-10 186px.jpgMasses gather in Tel Aviv to demonstrate against amendment to Citizenship Act.

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer was among those leading the procession, and he told YNET: "We are here to protest with the entire street against the dangerous policy of the government, which Labor ministers also support."

Go HERE for the entire article

Outpost Court Order w Caption.jpgHigh Court of Justice judges including Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, Justice Uzi Fogelman and Justice Neal Hendel leveled criticism at government policy ignoring illegal construction in outposts which have been served with warrants.
Also included are excerpts from and links to the Ha'aretz articles:
"Netanyahu still wary of razing six West Bank outposts slated for demolition in 2004" & "Border Control / Minister of contempt" by Akiva Eldar

Hebron 186x140.jpgIf peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians break down completely, the sticking point is likely to be expanded Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Indeed, settlements have for the past two years been the focus of attention from U.S. negotiators. That's a contrast to past peace efforts, when the dominant issues were Palestinian violence and terrorism or Israeli security.

Strategic ramifications of the visit to Lebanon last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad; Significance of PLO Executive Committee Secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo agreeing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in return for an Israeli commitment to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders; Growing speculation that we are approaching the beginning of the end of PM Netanyahu's right-wing coalition.

Watch David Grossman on the Charlie Rose Show

One of the clearest Israeli voices in support of peace is also one of the most tragic - and optimistic. David Grossman, a literary giant, voices and personally embodies both the tragedy and the hope. He does it brilliantly in his new novel, To the End of the Land, which he is now promoting on a US tour. If you haven't had a chance to see Grossman at your JCC or synagogue - and even if you have - you should watch his interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, here. A longtime activist with Israel's Peace Now movement, Grossman talks not just about his book and about the power of literature, but also about the Israeli psyche and the importance of peace for Israel future. I found this interview deeply moving. What do you think? 

Rabbis for Human Rights-North America Annual Conference

"Human Rights Under Fire: A Jewish Call to Action"
December 5-7, 2010
New York, New York

Americans for Peace Now is pleased to co-sponsor Rabbis for Human Rights' upcoming conference in New York City. Featured speakers will include journalist Peter Beinart, Dr. Naomi Chazan of the New Israel Fund, Iain Levine of Human Rights Watch, and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. (link has expired) Click here for more information and to register.

This essential gathering will take place at the UJA-Federation conference facility at 130 East 59th Street, New York, NY, and will bring together leading activists, human rights advocates, scholars, journalists and Jewish community leaders. Together, we will wrestle with human rights in the age of Obama and Netanyahu, strengthen our skills as leaders and help train us to further educate and activate more of the Jewish community.

The conference, which is open to all, will include a special pre-conference for rabbinic and cantorial students and will also include a special presentation of the 2010 Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Awards. Both of these events, held on Sunday, December 5th, will be held at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun (86th Street between Broadway and West End Avenues). 
Alpher answers questions about the status of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the aftermath of the expiration of the West Bank settlement construction freeze.

The Derailer
Yedioth Ahronoth 10/12/10 (p. 3)
by Shimon Shiffer
(Translation by Israel News Today)

I have a question for President Shimon Peres, who attended the opening meeting of the Knesset's winter session and listened to Netanyahu's speech with closed eyes: Mr. Peres, when you signed the declaration of principles with Abu Mazen on the White House lawn in the autumn of 1993, why didn't you demand of him, your partner to the secret negotiations in Oslo, to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people?

Wanted: Conspiracy Theories

While Israelis and their friends abroad are preparing commemorative events to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's 1995 assassination, the settlers' chief news site, Arutz Sheva (Channel 7) has come up with its own way of commemorating Rabin. The right wing site is launching a bizarre contest of conspiracy theories regarding the assassination. Readers are urged to send in their wildest theories about who is responsible for Rabin's murder. Arutz Sheva promises to publish the "most interesting" theories.

Parsing Today's Cynical "Offer" by Bibi for a Settlement Moratorium

The news broke earlier today that Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to re-impose the moratorium on new settlement starts in exchange for Palestinian official recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Why isn't this the kind of offer that the Palestinians would jump at, assuming they actually want peace?  For some very good reasons, that's why.

APN & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been posting on the APN website over the past few days, nor have I been sending out links via Twitter.  The reason is that I have been busy with another cause that is close to my heart: the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.  One of my best friends in the world - a vibrant young woman - is fighting this terrible disease.  She and the millions of other women around the world fighting breast cancer - wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, partners and friends - know that this disease doesn't care about religion, race, borders, or nationality. 

I am proud and honored to have joined with more than 2000 other people this past weekend (Oct 8-10) to walk 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen walk to raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer (and yes, I walked every inch of it - and have the blisters to prove it!). 

I am grateful that my colleagues at APN supported me in my effort and that APN generously let me take off October 8th to participate.  It was an incredible, empowering experience that I will treasure and, when my feet heal, I look forward to doing again.  

Time to End the Silence, by Talia Sasson

Sasson Collage.jpg
Talia Sasson is a member of the Yesh Din public committee and drafted the government report on West Bank outposts in 2005 as legal advisor to Prime Minister Sharon

The talk in the media about the freeze that is no longer, and the one yet to come, Abbas' decision to end-or-not-to-end the talks, the window of opportunity that may disappear at any moment, complex Israeli interests, urgent US interests, a US president who exerts pressure, and a world that holds its breath - is all just background noise.

AUDIO: What's happening with the settlements?

Americans for Peace Now held a briefing call yesterday (Tuesday, Oct. 5th) to report on developments on the ground since the settlement moratorium ended last week.

The call was led by APN's Policy and Government Relations Director Lara Friedman. It featured Jerusalem attorney Danny Seidemann and Peace Now Settlement Watch chief Hagit Ofran. Nobody watches what takes place in the settlements more closely than these two.

While much of the media attention has (for good reason) been focused on the American effort to renew negotiations, Danny and Hagit have been carefully watching the situation on the ground.

Click here to listen to the conversation.

What's happening with the settlements?

Briefing Call Audio 10-5-10.jpgRecording of a briefing call led by APN Policy and Government Director Lara Friedman, featuring Peace Now Settlement Watch Director Hagit Ofran, and Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann. Nobody watches what takes place in the settlements more closely than these two.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending October 1, 2010

1. Bills & Resolutions
2. House Letter on Jonathan Pollard
3. Another Incoherent Rant from Rep. Gohmert

Note: The House is now in recess until November 15th.