May 2011 Archives
What the holiday and official Israeli pronouncements gloss over is the fact that the city is, in fact, very divided -- and always has been.
By Ehud Olmert
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appearance at congress was impressive and stirred a sense of justified pride among many Israelis who are not subjugated to political rivalries and hatreds. Netanyahu is a talented orator and is particularly lucid in English. He knows how to speak to the Americans in heart-warming "American" they can understand. It was no coincidence that he received a very warm, sympathetic welcome in Congress. It was no wonder that his speech, which was aired live in Israel, elicited a similar response among the Israeli public. It was a moment of pleasure that every Israeli was entitled to enjoy and take pride in.
Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization, but simply asserting that fact is not a policy.
[Disclaimers: (1) The annotations in this piece are not derived from any direct access to the Prime Minister's inner thoughts, bur reflect realistic assessments of the Prime Minister's intent; (2) This is satire, but satire is of course funny because it is true.]
Vice President Biden, Speaker Boehner, distinguished senators, members of the House, honored guests, I'm deeply moved by this warm welcome, and I'm deeply honored that you've given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time. Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time that we were the new kids in town? (Laughter, applause.) And I do see a lot of old friends here, and I see a lot of new friends of Israel here as well -- Democrats and Republicans alike. (Applause.)
Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel [and don't you let Obama forget it]. (Applause.) We stand together to defend democracy [except when, like with Egypt, we have mixed feelings about it]. We stand together to advance peace [except when your president asks me to do things I don't want to do]. We stand together to fight terrorism [and anyone who suggests that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in any way provides a rallying cry for extremism, well, they are anti-Semites trying to delegitimize of Israel].
"Prime Minister Netanyahu was today granted a podium that few world leaders receive. He had the chance to demonstrate to the world that, contrary to many people's expectations, he grasps the urgency of the moment. Unfortunately for Israel, he did not rise to the occasion.
To address these and other questions, APN is preparing for a discussion with author, historian and journalist James Carroll of the Boston Globe, whose new book, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" explores the multiple dualities of this fascinating city.
'Tis the season. The season when members of Congress are lobbied hard to support positions presented to them as the epitome of "pro-Israel" - but that in fact are anything but.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Proposal drafted following Itamar terror attack would cost NIS 1 billion over coming year; Peace Now says plan is proof PM not interested in real peace.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer slammed the approval of a hearing on Har Homa construction.
"The prime minister is sacrificing relations with the US for the benefit of his loyalty to settlers and rightists in Jerusalem. This is not just miserable timing, but a miserable policy which endangers Israel's status in the world," he said. (Ronen Medzini)
APN Spokesman Ori Nir was interviewed as part of the program "Expert Q&A: Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace"
Read the transcript.
Op-ed: Radical leftists, rightists both hurting two-state vision; Israel's mainstream must unite
Yariv Oppenheimer is the Secretary General of Peace Now
Jerusalem Post: "PM pledges to work with Obama to renew peace talks"
Jewish Journal: "Americans for Peace Now to AIPAC: Support Obama's Two-State Push"
Arab News: "Palestine should have '67 border, says Obama"
Jewish Journal: "Obama's Middle East speech draws ire and support"
Although the approval was granted at the end of April, it was first publicized in the last few days - including by Peace Now on Sunday - as part of an overall report on settlement activity.
According to Peace Now, that 390 included: 200 in Modi'in Illit, 100 in Ariel, 40 in Ma'aleh Adumim and 50 in Kfar Eldad.
These resolutions will no doubt be sold as the "pro-Israel" thing for Congress to do. But, rather than promote Israel's interests or peace, the resolutions seem to be primarily about casting blame. That's no way to support Israel.
We need your help to tell Congress not to score political points at the expense of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
"President Obama again demonstrated that he is a staunch friend of Israel, deeply concerned about Israel's future as a democracy and a secure Jewish state," said APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee. "The President enumerated, to great applause, the many concrete steps that his administration took to bolster Israel's security and its standing worldwide."
To my mind, one of the most powerful take-aways from the President's now famous/infamous Middle East speech is to be found in the long list of countries he talked about well before he got to the Israel/Palestine part.
The fact is, as important as Israel/Palestine is, it is part of a much larger region, and the United States acts all across that region. Indeed, the United States is currently trying very hard to get on the right side of history as that region changes before our very eyes. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, whether we like it or not, part of a bigger picture.
May 18, 2011
What Obama should tell Israeli Netanyahu when they meet in the White House Friday
by Ori Nir, Spokesperson, Americans for Peace Now
(...) Anyway, Bibi, in the past several weeks I've been working with my staff on Mideast policy speeches. So, the Middle East has been on my mind. And I've actually reached conclusions and made decisions. Now, please, hear me out. You know that this is coming from a friend and ally.
"Today, President Obama signaled to the world that he is still serious about Israeli-Palestinian peace and that he is a true friend of Israel. We welcome his clear statement that the U.S. position is that a permanent status peace agreement will be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed on land swaps, and that the outcome must be secure and recognized borders, with a sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state and robust security arrangements for Israel. We also welcome his statement that such an agreement must find a way to resolve the issues of Jerusalem and refugees that is just and fair and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.
"By proceeding with settlement approvals in East Jerusalem today - precisely when Prime Minister Netanyahu is headed to Washington to meet with President Obama and address Congress, and when President Obama is about to make a major Middle East speech - Netanyahu is sending an unmistakable message: he values settlements more than peace.
The coming days are a final chance to stop or, at the very least to slow down, Israel's political setback. From the day that Arafat died and the Palestinian Authority desisted from terrorism, its standing in the world has only strengthened. The demand for independence, for a demilitarized state within the 1967 borders (with agreed border revisions) with East Jerusalem as its capital, is accepted by nearly all the countries of the world, and it will almost certainly win sweeping recognition by the UN General Assembly in September.
"...history will show that the most pro-Israel U.S. president was not the one who provided the most weapons to Israel and vetoed the most UN Security Council resolutions, but the one who brought peace, and with it, real security, to Israel, and independence to the Palestinian people."
People around the world -- and particularly in the Middle East -- will be listening closely and critically.
THE FATAL shooting Sunday of at least a dozen Palestinians who crossed into Israel from Syria and southern Lebanon reflected failures of intelligence, crowd control, and diplomacy by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
Americans for Peace Now seems to think it could be a game changer, and is concerned that Obama will miss a big opportunity if he ignores the issue in his upcoming address.
"The time has come for the President to grab the bull by the horns and take dramatic action..." Debra DeLee, APN's president, said today in a statement.
by ADAM KREDO
APN is referred to in the following:
The Nation: "George Mitchell Quits as ME Envoy" by Robert Dreyfuss
Jerusalem Post: "US Mideast envoy Mitchell quits after 2 years" by Hilary Leila Krieger
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The news follows reports of a dispute within the administration over how aggressively President Obama should push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Mitchell was said to be pressing for a more hands-on approach. No doubt, some will say that Mitchell's departure means that the administration is backing off the issue. But this doesn't have to be true. A shake up in the president's Mideast team could open the door for the direct personal engagement of the president himself.
Today, we need your help to show the president that Americans want him to reassert U.S. leadership.
APN Legislative Round-Up
for the week ending
May 13, 2011
1. Bills & Resolutions
2. Cantor/Hoyer Resolution Blasting the Palestinians (just in time for AIPAC conference)
3. Kirk on Egypt
4. Berkley-Engel Letter Opposing Palestinian Unity
5. APN Warns President Obama: Don't Leave Mideast Peace Out of Your Mideast Speech
6. As Sen. Mitchell Resigns, APN Urges Obama to Personally Lead Mideast Peace Efforts
7. Odds & Ends
There's a method to my madness, though. I find it's easier to take in theory and analysis after first grappling with the facts, figures, and humanity of history - The Palestinian People is heavy on the latter; Palestinian Identity is heavy on the former. Both, however, are irreplaceable contributions to the literature on Israel/Palestine.
By Ori Nir, APN Spokesman
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Israel's Independence Day is a good time to revel in what such a small country has achieved in such a short time and under such trying circumstances. But it is also a time to resolve to do more.
On Israel's Independence Day, APN's Ori Nir looks ahead to real independence for Israel, noting that "Israel is not truly independent as long as it denies the Palestinians their independence."
Israel's Independence Day, May 10th, is a good time to revel in what such a small country has achieved in such a short time and under such trying circumstances. It's also a time to resolve to do more.
"The decision by CUNY's trustees is troubling. Tony Kushner is a talented playwright who has contributed tremendously to American literature. He has been willing to use his enormous talent to speak out on some of the most important and painful issues of our times.
"Americans need and deserve an open, honest debate about Israel. Too often, self-proclaimed guardians of acceptable discourse on Israel try to enforce their skewed political correctness through intimidation. Such efforts are simply wrong. Worse yet, they threaten to needlessly divide Americans who are largely supportive of Israel and want to see it achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on a territorial compromise."
I think this is the very fact that stands in the way of peace activism for many - I think there comes a moment when some feel they must choose between their own joy and someone else's sorrow, and it can feel more right to focus solely on our own people's joy. I think I understand that - but I also think it gets in the way of resolving the conflict.
But I also think it gets in the way of resolving the conflict, of finding more joy.
APN Legislative Round-Up
for the week ending
May 6, 2011
1. Bills & Resolutions
2. Quick Review: Current Law on Aid to Palestinian Power-Sharing Govt
3. Congressional Reaction to Hamas-Fatah Agreement
4. Menendez-led Senate (Democrats) letter on Fatah-Hamas deal
5. Granger/Lowey Letter to Abbas on UN Action on Palestinian State & on Unity Govt
6. APN on Palestinian Unity
7. AIPAC on Palestinian Unity
8. Ros-Lehtinen-Engel Letter on Syria
9. Israel-Cole Turkey/Flotilla Letter
10. Berkley-Led House letter on Goldstone (to Ban Ki-moon)
11. Hill Briefing by Jewish Groups: "Palestinian efforts to declare unilateral independence - and what Congress can do to avert it"
12. Get Ready: AIPAC Policy Conference, May 22-24
13. Odds & Ends
Note: On 5/4/11 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met to consider the nomination of Dan Shapiro as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Dan's prepared testimony is available here. The committee has not yet voted on the issue.
Also, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Obama May 20. (King Abdullah of Jordan is also expected in Washington that week). Netanyahu will also give a speech during the AIPAC policy conference, and is expected to address a joint meeting (not a joint session) of Congress, at the invitation of House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) on May 24.
Peace is Security
Six months is a long time in the Middle East. Since my arrival in September as Britain's ambassador to Israel, there have been some enormous upheavals in this region. Recent weeks have seen a return of horrendous violence, including a shower of rocket attacks in southern Israel, and horrific attacks in Itamar and Jerusalem.
May 2, 2011
Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today denounced Gaza Strip Hamas leader Ismail Haniya's statements condemning the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and lauding Bin Laden as an Arab holy warrior.
APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated: "Haniya's embrace of Bin Laden is detestable. His decision to align Hamas with a man who has the blood of literally thousands of innocent people on his hands is an affront to every American. It is also an insult to every Palestinian, whose struggle for self-determination and peace will in the eyes of many be sullied by this revolting action. President Abbas' swift move to applaud the elimination of Bin Laden is thus all the more important and commendable.
"Last week APN welcomed news of Palestinian reconciliation. We did so because we recognize that a united Palestinian polity is vital to peace, and we recognize that, no matter how much we wish it were not so, Hamas is an important player in this polity that cannot be wished, or sanctioned, into irrelevance. This remains true today, even as we deplore Haniya's decision to embrace Bin Laden."
Oops, We've Been Dragged Again
Look at these Palestinians: they don't miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to coordinate their steps with Binyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. It's important to them to reach the finish line of recognition of the Palestinian state united, at least outwardly. Go understand them.
It should at least be said to their credit that they had someone to learn from. Binyamin Zeev Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, to name a few examples. In that sense, to use a common historic phrase, Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad are "standing on the shoulders of giants."