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July 2011 Archives

APN Legislative Round-up for the Week Ending July 29, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (House Markup) - the fun continues
3. State Department Authorization Bill (House) - more on the markup
4. State Department Authorization Bill (Senate) - details to follow
5. HFAC/MESA Subcommittee Hold Hearing on Syria and Iran
6 Odds and Ends

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
Palestinian_Flag_at_UN.jpgEarlier this month, APN's Board of Directors adopted principles to guide our approach on the issue of the Palestinians and efforts for international and UN recognition.  These principles underlie my recent op-ed on the topic published on, and will be the basis of forthcoming APN statements and commentary on the topic.

Lara Friedman Appears on Viewpoint with Jim Zogby


Lara Friedman, APN's Director of Policy and Government Relations, appeared Friday on Viewpoint with Jim Zogby, where she discussed congressional action on the Middle East and its impact on peace efforts.

Watch the interview here

When the first intifada hit Israel with the shock of a tidal wave, I was living in Tel Aviv.

Many of my male friends - including the young man with whom I was in love and living at the time - found themselves called to endless rounds of reserve duty to face off against stone-throwing youth.

Yossi Alpher 3.jpg
Q. Do you see any Israeli or Middle East aspects in Friday's atrocity in Norway?

A. This was an act of calculated terrorism--violence against civilians for a political end--and not, as some of the media would have it, the act of a deranged individual. Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator, should be considered no more unbalanced than Yigal Amir (Rabin's assassin) or a Hamas or Qaeda suicide bomber. The racist, anti-foreign, anti-Muslim beliefs that motivated him can be found not only elsewhere in Europe and the United States but in Israel as well, well-established on the right wing of the Knesset. 

Author J.J. Goldberg ends his posting with:

"More details on the differences between Israeli and American anti-boycott legislation, as well as certain European anti-boycott laws, are spelled in this excellent post at Huffington Post by Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now."

Hagit Ofran is Director of the Israeli Peace Now movement;s Settlement Watch Project.

(7/19/11) There is a sense of outrage within the Israeli public following the passing of "the boycott law" in the Knesset last week. The law allows any individual or institution who faces possible damage as a result of any person's call for boycott settlement products to sue that person. Evidence of actual damage will not be required. Organizations calling for such boycott could lose their legal standing as non profit organization.

APN mourns the passing of Hyman Bookbinder

America's organizational Jewish community, and Americans for Peace Now with it, is today mourning the passing of Hyman Bookbinder, a pillar of the community, an advocate for Israel, and a staunch supporter of Arab-Israeli peace.

Hyman Bookbinder was one of the longest serving Washington Representative of a Jewish organization - the American Jewish Committee - and in this capacity was considered the dean of Jewish organizational representatives on Capitol Hill.

Long after his retirement in 1986, Bookbinder served as an opinion leader and as a values-based voice of reason and conscience for the Jewish community in Washington. His wisdom, his kindness and his sense of global Arvut Hadadit (shared responsibility) will be missed.

Excerpts and link to: Ha'aretz: "Knesset votes down proposal to probe funding of leftist NGOs" follows those of the Post article.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Palestinian leadership seems determined to bring its case for statehood to the U.N. in September. The details remain unknown, but that hasn't stopped pundits and groups from staking out hard-line positions opposing the effort.

APN Legislative Round-up for the week ending July 22, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. State Department Authorization Bill - the text (HR 2583)
3. State Department Authorization Bill - the markup and amendments
4. APN Calls for Boycott of Settlements, Settlement Products
5. APN Calls on Jewish Community to Oppose Anti-Democratic Trend in Israel
6. Shameless plug for my new op-ed on Palestinians at the UN
7. CUFI on the Hill
8. From the Archives: Bouyed by Congress, Israel Won't Alter Negotiating Points (NYT, 1975)
9. Odds and Ends

Washington, DC - As the Knesset prepares for a vote on yet another anti-democratic bill, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is calling on fellow American Jewish organizations to help protect Israeli tolerance, democracy and civil rights. 
Later today Israel's Knesset is set to vote on a bill that would establish McCarthy-like "parliamentary inquiry panels" to investigate human rights and social justice groups. One of the measure's chief supporters, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, earlier this week labeled such groups "terror organizations."  This vote comes after last week's vote, in which the Knesset passed a bill that in effect outlaws calling for the boycott of products made in West Bank settlements. Many more bills targeting Israeli civil society groups, including those fighting for peace, human rights and civil rights, are awaiting Knesset approval. 

Upcoming APN Events in Los Angeles

Friday, July 29, 8:00 a.m., Factor's Deli, Los Angeles

"Loving Israel in Challenging Times" with Daniel Sokatch, CEO of New Israel Fund

This New Israel Fund event is co-sponsored by Americans for Peace Now, J Street Los Angeles and Meretz-USA

Tuesday, August 16, 8:00 a.m., Los Angeles Location TBA

Breakfast Program with Dan Simon, USC Professor of Law and Psychology; Served as a Major in the Israeli Air Force, and as a staff attorney for the Assn. for Civil Rights in Israel. Dan will have just returned from a visit to Israel and the region

TO BE RESCHEDULED - The Breakfast Program with Gregory Khalil had to unfortunately be cancelled. We will look forward to another opportunity to hear from the President and Co-Founder of The Telos Group in Washington, D.C.


Likud's Benny Begin: "It is Dark Here"

Every Tuesday, members of the Israeli Knesset get a chance to make mini-speeches, one minute addresses to the plenum, on a topic of their choice.

Today, on the eve of a Knesset vote on yet another anti-democratic bill, a bill that would establish McCarthy-like "parliamentary inquiry panels" to investigate human rights and social justice groups, Minister Binyamin Begin addressed an almost empty house. He used the short speech to warn his fellow Knesset members: "it is dark here."

Begin, a Likud hawk with a strong commitment to democratic and civil values, opened his instant-speech by recognizing the Chairman of the house, Reuven Rivlin, who last week courageously sided with the minority against the controversial Boycott Law (Begin actually supported it). "I wanted to thank you, Mr. Chairman, my good neighbor and good friend, for your longtime steadfastness, to safeguard the honor of the Knesset even against the caprices of its own members."

APN Joins Peace Now's Call for Boycotting Settlements

PeaceNowBoycott186x140.jpgWashington, DC - Today the Board of Directors of Americans for Peace Now met in a special session to discuss Israel's new anti-boycott law.  In the session the board unanimously adopted the following position:  APN's Board wholeheartedly endorses Peace Now's campaign to challenge the new law and joins in their call for a boycott of products made in settlements. 

Reading the Conflict - Palestinian Walks

What stands at the heart of both the Jewish and Palestinian national narratives? Land - the very land itself, the narrow space on the great green globe on which both peoples claim their home, and by which both define themselves. It's no accident that in Jewish culture, Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is Eretz Hakodesh (the Holy Land).

Reuven_Rivlin186x140.jpgThe Speaker of the Knesset and Likud Party Member writes: The Boycott Law is a double-edged sword that threatens to harm Israel's international standing, and to play into the hands of those criticizing the quality of the country's democracy.

Continue Reading

Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpg
Q. Last week, the Knesset passed a law criminalizing attempts to boycott settlements and their products. What are the ramifications for Israel in general and for the peace process in particular?

Q. If this law so obviously violates basic human rights, won't the Israel High Court of Justice strike it down?

Q. Where is that Likud human rights camp, and where is public opinion?

APN Legislative Round-up for the week ending July 15, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. State Department Authorization Bill - House (more details)
3. Hearing on Palestinian Aid 7/12/11: A Re-Cap
4. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission - Hearing on Human Rights in Syria
5. House Broke Its Own Rules to Pass Palestinian-bashing Resolution
6. APN op-ed: Comparing Israel's New Boycott Law to US Legislation - Like Comparing Apples and Orangutans
7. Odds and Ends

Backers of a new Israeli law penalizing anyone who targets Israel or West Bank settlements for boycotts tout it as a tool to fight back against anti-Israel campaigns, but American Jewish organizations seem remarkably united in deeming the measure an affront to freedom of expression.

Continue Reading...

American_Prospect_Logo186.jpgThe Israeli journalist and author writes:

This article is against the law. To be more precise: It includes a call for boycotting the products of West Bank settlements, a call that will be illegal in Israel as soon as legislation just approved by the Knesset is published in the official gazette and takes effect.

Continue Reading

Articles on Peace Now's Settlement Products Boycott

Peace Now's actions immediately received a massive amount of coverage in Israel and internationally.

See articles with links, plus the full English translations of Yedioth Ahronoth: "They Boycotted the Boycott" and Ma'ariv: "Peace Now: Boycott Settlement Goods"

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011 the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled "Promoting Peace? Reexamining U.S. Aid to the Palestinian Authority."  Witnesses were the Honorable Jacob Walles, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (prepared testimony); Lieutenant General Mike Moeller, United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (prepared testimony); and the Honorable George A. Laudato, Administrator's Special Assistant for the Middle East.  The hearing was chaired by subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) (opening statement); ranking member Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) also delivered a statement (here).

Boycotting Settlements

Monday will go down in history as the day that the Israeli Knesset voted to suspend democracy in Israel.  Monday was the day when the Knesset effectively outlawed peaceful protest against Israeli government policies, including settlements.  

Abe_Foxman186x140.jpgADL president (Abraham Foxman, pictured) visiting in Israel says while the league opposes boycott of Israel, law allows government to 'legally stifle calls to action', is disservice to Israel's democratic nature.


I support Israel by working for peace

This blog post was written by APN intern Jennifer Aaronson.

A few years ago I was walking down the streets of San Francisco wearing an old t-shirt that said pro-peace, pro-Israel. A man yelled back at me that I could not believe in both. I was so shocked by his outburst that I didn't know how to respond-so I chose to ignore him. I was only fifteen at the time so that was probably for the best; however, that encounter has been ingrained in my mind ever since. 

Danielle_Blumenstyk_Peace_Now_Rally_7-10-11_320x265.jpgHa'aretz: "U.S. on Israeli boycott law: Freedom to protest is a basic democratic right"

Ha'aretz: "Groups step up campaigns against Monday's anti-Israel boycott bill"

"50 left wing activists protest against 'boycott bill'"

YNET: "Knesset braces for 'Boycott bill' vote"

At a rally in Jerusalem, demonstrators say boycotting is a democratic right.

APN Deeply Concerned by New Israeli "Boycott Law"

Boycott_Law_Demonstration.jpgAPN is deeply concerned by the escalation in attacks on Israel's democracy coming from the Israeli Knesset (the parliament). 
On July 11, the Knesset passed a measure making it illegal to in any way call for boycotting Israel or West Bank settlements. This legislation, a flagrant attack on freedom of speech in Israel, comes on the heels of a series of bills - some of them already enacted - which aim to stifle dissent and restrict the rights of civil society organizations, including groups working to promote peace, human rights, and civil rights within Israel. 


Erekat: "We hope Quartet meeting will come out with serious statement that focuses on the two-state solution on basis of 1967 borders."

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

They say: The 1967 lines are indefensible. Israel would not be able to fend off military threats from the east if it withdraws to its pre-1967 lines.

Freedom of speech

Right now the Knesset is debating a law that would make it illegal to call for a boycott of West Bank settlements, economically, culturally, or academically.  The proposed law is a severe blow to the very foundations of Israeli democracy.

Peace Now in Israel has been organizing to defeat this measure. Peace Now held a demonstration yesterday in Jerusalem outside Israel's Justice Ministry. On Friday, the movement mailed every member of Knesset a letter urging them to oppose the bill. And if the bill becomes law, Peace Now is considering an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to get it overturned.

Last week the House voted to suspend the rules and pass H. Res. 268, a resolution strongly backed by AIPAC and others right-of-center Jewish organizations (and strongly opposed by APN).  H. Res. 268 slams the Palestinians for seeking international recognition, for taking their case to the UN, and for seeking national reconciliation - and threatens them with punishment if they don't desist.  I reported in my Round-Up last week that this vote was unusual, given that since taking control of the House in midterm elections, House Republican leaders have "virtually ended the longstanding practice of bringing non-binding, symbolic resolutions to the floor under suspension of the rules" (in contrast to past Congresses where the practice was rampant).  The Washington Post even reported on this change.

When I wrote about this in the Round-Up I didn't know for certain exactly how many non-binding resolutions had been brought to the floor on the suspension calendar in the 112th Congress, so I couldn't say exactly how unusual last week's vote on H. Res. 268 was. 

Now, I can say (because now I know)*.  It was not just unusual - it was an entirely unique exception.

"Boycott Bill" Background

Israel's Knesset is set to vote today on a bill that would outlaw calling for any boycott of Israeli settlements - whether economically, culturally or academically.

Israel's largest circulation daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, yesterday published the following backgrounder on the bill:

Q: What does the bill stipulate?
   The boycott bill stipulates that any individual or organization that sponsors a geographically-based boycott against Israel will be liable for damages that can be sued for in a civil court by the party injured by the call for the boycott.
Alpher discusses developments related to the 5 year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War and the official independence of South Sudan.

Yedioth Ahronoth: "The Boycott War"

"The bill will turn the Knesset into the thought police for Israeli society, and will mortally hurt the principle of the freedom of speech," said Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer.

by Zvika Brott

Reading the Conflict: Jewish Terrorism in Israel

Among the topics that Israeli Jews and supporters of the Jewish State are often uncomfortable discussing is terrorism.

Not Palestinian and/or Muslim terrorism - that gets discussed at the drop of a hat.

No, what is usually swept under the rug is the fact that the Jewish people itself has produced a fair number of terrorists, from ancient times up through the modern day. And so today, I recommend Jewish Terrorism in Israel, by Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger.

The museums who dare display works of art with a leftist political bend, the cultural institutions that stage plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the national libraries that dare offer their readers books including criticism of the occupation and its consequences must all be prepared. They are going to be the targets of the next assault.

July 3, 2011

A plan for 30 housing units in the Ras Al-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem was deposited for review last week, in the first step of the approval process for the newest east Jerusalem housing project for Jewish residents, Peace Now reported.

Peace Now sent black flags to all 120 Knesset members yesterday in protest and as a warning of the infringement on the freedom of expression.

Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were going to great lengths to legalize isolated outposts deep in the territories, even if this involves land expropriations, but "as far as evictions are concerned, the state is dragging its feet." He said this will encourage settlers to keep building illegally.

By Chaim Levinson

APN Legislative Round-up for the week ending July 8, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters 
2. More on H. Res. 268 (and APN response to passage) 
3. APN in "The Hill": Congress must re-think 'pro-Israel' (archives) 
4. New APN Policy Doc (sent to the Hill) on "Defensible Borders" Issue 
5. Odds and Ends

APN regrets irresponsible congressional resolutions

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) regrets that a resolution passed yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives, along with its companion resolution passed last week in the Senate, fails to take a balanced and comprehensive approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two resolutions urge the administration to take punitive measures against the Palestinians for pursuing national reconciliation and international recognition.
"House Resolution 268 and Senate Resolution 184 do a disservice to the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and do not serve the national security interests of either the United States or Israel," said APN's President and Executive Director Debra DeLee.
"These resolutions will only exacerbate the growing U.S. and Israeli isolation on these issues, and further undermine the chances of achieving peace and security for Israel. Israeli-Palestinian peace will not be achieved through congressional grandstanding. Heavy-handed resolutions from Congress cannot stop the Palestinians' quests for national unity, international recognition of their right to a state, and independence," DeLee added.  

"It is regrettable that Congress did not choose a more pragmatic and responsible path to support Middle East peace efforts," DeLee said.

APN is a leading American Jewish organization advocating for Middle East peace. 

New APN Publication Debunks "Indefensibility" Argument

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today unveiled a new publication debunking the claim that Israel would not be able to defend a negotiated eastern border line based on the 1967 "Green Line."



APN has unveiled a new booklet that provides a desperately-needed, honest assessment of the "defensibility" of borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps.

View it below.


Download the booklet for printing here.

Taking Israelis for a Ride

Peace Now recently discovered that the government of Israel heavily subsidizes public bus fares to, from and between West Bank settlements. Yesterday, Peace Now published a comparative table showing that bus fares from, to and between settlements cost half or less than bus rides of equivalent length inside Israel.
Alpher discusses the international dimensions of the second Gaza flotilla, and the impact the US's decision to dialogue with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has on Israel.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending July 1, 2011

APN Legislative Round-Up
       for the week ending
         July 1, 2011

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Cardin & Collins Grandstand at the Expense of Peace (on S. Res. 185)
3.  APN on the Flotilla
4.  Members of Congress Urge Admin to Ensure Safety of Amcits on the Flotilla
5.  Coats (R-IN) pitches for military action against Iran (kinda)
6.  Odds & Ends

NOTE:  H. Res. 268 - the House companion to S. Res. 185 - is on the House suspension calendar for July 6, 2011.