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August 2011 Archives

Israel's Image Won't Improve Without Policy Changes

By Gary Wexler 

The thousands of scantily clothed bikers, skateboarders, walkers, hawkers, gawkers and performers were simply taking advantage of another breezy, crystal clear Southern California day. They had fought their way valiantly through relentless freeway traffic to participate in the year-round weekend ritual of parading down Los Angeles' bohemian thoroughfare, the Venice Beach boardwalk.

Palestinian_Protest_near_Kadumim186.jpgHagit Ofran, of Peace Now, an Israeli organisation which monitors settlement activity, said: "We hope the army is making clear that non-violent protest is legitimate and no settlers should use any violence against unarmed demonstrators."

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APN's 'News Nosh' - Sneak Peak Video


APN's new service to be launched on September 12 will feature American-born, Israeli journalist Orly Halpern, who has written extensively about Israel and the Arab world, including an upcoming book on her one-year experience in Baghdad. Subscribe to News Nosh

Watch intro video:

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses events that continue to unfold following the southern Israel terrorist attack, the differences between Syria and Libya, and the developing relationship between Israel and China.

Anti-Beck_Rally186x140.jpg"This is a person who seems to support Israel, but he is a fanatic..." Etai Mizrav of Peace Now said.

Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now Secretary General: "We came to protest against this show of Glenn Beck, I think he tried to use the tension in this city for his career...We need friends who come from abroad to support the idea of two states, of sharing Jerusalem a capital for two states, for the Palestinians and the Israelis, and not people who come here just to provoke."

Peace Now activists tell Glenn Beck to go home!

Peace Now activists challenged Glenn Beck's rally in Jerusalem's Old City yesterday, and shamed the Israeli officials who permitted him to hold such a provocative event at one of the world's most sensitive sites. 

Peace Now's demonstrators carried signs saying "Glenn, take your hate back," "We have enough fanatics here," "With such friends, who needs enemies?" and "Bibi, have you run out of friends?" 

Peace Now protests Glenn Beck's Jerusalem Rally


When Glenn Beck and his followers come to Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday for their provocative "Restore Courage" rally they will get an earful from Peace Now activists. They will demand that Beck and his supporters stay away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and from one of the most sensitive sites on earth. Peace Now supporters will meet on Wednesday at the Dung Gate in the Old City to tell him that he is no friend of Israel and is doing it a disservice by fanning the religious flames of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the building of 277 apartments the West Bank settlement of Ariel, defying U.S. criticism of continued settlement construction

By Chaim Levinson, Reuters and The Associated Press

Yariv Oppenheimer, a spokesman for Peace Now, an anti-settlement Israeli advocacy group, called the Ariel project "a very negative move that shows the Israeli government has no intention to speak to the Palestinians but wants to confront them and the international community."

Read the entire article:

Americans for Peace Now urged "all parties to the conflict to do their utmost to curb violence and to prevent further escalation."

By Douglas Bloomfield

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Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher discusses last week's terror attacks in southern Israel, the advancement of rebel troops into Tripoli, and Shimon Peres' peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas.

APN Strongly Condemns Terror Attacks in Southern Israel

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the coordinated series of terrorist attacks in southern Israel today. APN sends its condolences to the families of the attacks' victims, and wishes fast and full recovery to those who were injured. APN stands with the people of Israel. 

Barbara_Green2_186x140.jpgBarbara Green is an activist and volunteer with Americans for Peace Now out of the national office in Washington, D.C. Earlier in 2011, she coordinated APN's Study Tour to Israel.

In a piece published last week in Commentary, Jonathan Tobin confidently asserts that:

"While no American government has ever recognized Israeli sovereignty over any part of the ancient capital, it is equally true never before had an American president made an issue of the building of homes in the existing Jewish neighborhoods begun in the immediate aftermath of the reunification of the city in 1967. Though settlement building in the West Bank has been a constant source of tension, and projects such as the one at Har Homa outside these Jewish sections of the city (although it was on vacant, Jewish-owned land) were disputed by Washington, housing in places like Ramat Sharon had never been a bone of contention."(emphasis added)

You'd think before anyone would make such a categorical assertion in print (or even online), he'd first bother to check the facts.  Because the facts are easy to check.

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now today joined Peace Now in criticizing the Netanyahu government for its cynical effort to use the ongoing protests in Israel as cover for expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. APN called on the Obama administration to strongly challenge this effort, recognizing it for what it is: further evidence that while Netanyahu talks about wanting peace and avoiding a confrontation at the UN next month, the actions of his government demonstrate the opposite.

Has enough happened in the last two months to warrant a new assessment regarding the Arab spring...? Where is Israel in all this? Where is money for the social and economic programs and incentives demanded by the (Israeli 'social justice') demonstrators likely to be taken from...?


Peace Now: MKs should boycott Beck's planned J'lem rally, condemn comments made on show entitled "Radical leftists protest in Israel."

Peace Now on Monday called upon Knesset members to boycott Glenn Beck's August 24 Jerusalem rally after Beck compared the reported 200,000 people who attended the August 6 housing rally in Tel Aviv to Communists.

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APN's Lara Friedman on KCRW's (NPR) "To The Point"

Lara_Friedman85px.jpgLara participates in the discussion on the social and economic protests in Israel as the Palestinians ready their case for the UN.

Play audio by going HERE, selecting "listen" and choosing the tab in the timeline that begins with "Israel"

Michael_Walzer186x140.jpg"This is a protest against what Israel has become, in the name of what it once was. It is an effort by the youngest Israelis to recapture an older, more egalitarian, more idealistic, country that their parents lost."

Michael Walzer is a contributing editor for The New Republic, professor emeritus of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study, and a board member of Americans for Peace Now.

Mann_JPost2_186x140.jpg"...supporters of Peace Now understand all too well that resources have been invested in the settlement enterprise at the expense of providing housing in Israel proper. We understand that maintaining the settlement enterprise costs Israel civilians an estimated NIS 8 billion annually."

APN's Lara Friedman on Voice of America's "Encounter"

Thumbnail image for Lara_Friedman85px.jpgPanelists Friedman and David Makovsky spoke about the implications of the Palestinians seeking statehood at the United Nations and a potential confrontation with Washington, Israel, and others.

Go HERE to listen; scroll down to "Topic: Showdown at the UN: Unilateral Palestinian Declaration?"
The United States does not recognize the sovereignty of any party in any part of Jerusalem (East or West).   This is not a new policy imposed by the Obama Administration, as some seem to believe or want others to believe.  It is a policy that dates back to pre-1948, and has been followed by every U.S. Administration since, regardless of the President or party in the White House.  Across this entire period, the policy has applied equally to Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian claims in the city.  What follows are representative examples across this entire period illustrating the consistency of this policy.

Ha'aretz: "In his father's name" by Michael Sfard

"Israel Harel defends the crime, not the criminal, and in his effort to help his son, he justified an immoral, illegal and un-Jewish act."

Thumbnail image for Michael Sfard at Podium 186x140.jpgAttorney Michael Sfard represented the petitioners on behalf of Peace Now in the Migron case both at the High Court of Justice and at the Magistrate's Court.


Har_Homa_Construction186x140.jpgYNET: "930 Har Homa housing units okayed"
Interior Ministry authorizes major Jerusalem construction plan beyond Green Line on backdrop of housing protest

Jerusalem Post: "Interior Ministry approves 930 new units in Har Homa"

AFP: "Israel approves 900 E.Jerusalem settlement homes"

Ha'aretz Cartoon -- Bibi has a 'Migraine'!

Migron_Cartoon_withCaption2_320x265.jpg With all the protests about housing and other social justice issues, Prime Minister Netanyahu is drawn suffering from a Migraine, which in Hebrew sounds very much like the name of the illegal Israeli West Bank outpost that the court has ordered to be removed!

Palestinians and the UN- New York Times Editorial

In little more than a month, the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations to recognize their state. We have sympathy for their yearning and their frustration. For years, they have been promised a negotiated solution -- President Obama called for a peace deal by September -- and they are still empty-handed. But the consequences could be profoundly damaging for all involved.

Letter from APN Volunteer Barbara Green

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Dear Friend,

I am writing to you from a tiny office on M and 21st Streets in Washington, DC--an office which I share with two interns here at Americans for Peace Now (APN). One of them comes from L.A. and goes to school at U.C.-Santa Cruz. The other hails from Gaza and has won a scholarship to Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. I'm probably 50 years older than either of the two interns but we gladly share this space once a week in order to promote the work of Peace Now. As a long-time volunteer here, I'm committed to the task until a peace agreement has been signed and we can close down the office.

Alpher answers questions about the trial of Egypt's former President Mubarak, the resignation of Turkish military officials, and the Israeli Supreme Court's order to evacuation the Migron outpost.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the Week Ending August 5, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Senate Version of the State Department Authorization Bill
3. Confirmation hearing for US Ambassadors to Syria and Turkey
4. Odds and Ends

Earlier this week I observed: "while many Israelis living inside the Green Line are protesting the painful costs of unrestrained free market capitalism that has left them behind, Israelis living in the West Bank are enjoying an economic model that resembles nothing so much as state-led socialism - a model that ensures that even the richest settler enjoys benefits that the poorest Israeli can only dream of."

Now longtime Israeli politician Haim Ramon is saying pretty much the same thing in an August 4th interview published in Maariv:

Get your "I Boycott Settlement Products" twibbon!

Twibbon Sample.jpgBack on July 19th APN joined Peace Now (Israel) in calling for a boycott of settlement products.  We did so in response to the flagrantly anti-democratic anti-boycott law passed recently by the Knesset - the clear goal of which is to stifle protest against settlements and the Israeli government's continued support of settlements and settlement expansion. 

Since then I've received a deluge of responses from people applauding this move by APN and Peace Now, and expressing their own intent to boycott settlement products.  Many said they actually have been boycotting settlement products for years (as I have done) but now will do so even more proudly, knowing that the act represents not only a statement of protest against settlements, but defiant support for the democratic values that American Jews believe must remain a central part of Israel's character. 

Now anyone who shares these sentiments with APN (and has a twitter and/or facebook account) can show their solidarity by adding the "I Boycott Settlement Products" button (a "twibbon" for those familiar with this sort of thing) to their profile photos.  You can get this new APN twibbon here.

Migron_Illegal_Outpost_Aeriel186x140.jpgIn response to a petition filed by the Peace Now movement, Israel's Supreme Court issued an unprecedented ruling ordering the state to dismantle the largest illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank by April 2012.

See links to articles in the Israeli, U.S., and International press.

Fall 2011 Internships at Americans for Peace Now

Are you passionate about achieving Middle East peace? Are you ready to take your activism to the next level? Are you a college student who is looking to get some work experience? Maybe you should apply for an internship at Americans for Peace Now. 

APN is seeking interns to work in our Washington, DC office for the Fall 2011 semester.

At least three liberal US Jewish groups have expressed support for burgeoning social justice protests in Israel. The New Israel Fund is helping to fund tent camp protests in major cities.

Ameinu, a progressive Zionist group, wrote an open letter to the various protest groups. "The nationwide protests in which you are engaging are an inspiration to those of us who strive for social justice and freedom of economic opportunity in the United States and around the world," the letter said.

In a front-page blog post on its website, Americans for Peace Now linked the housing protests to government subsidies for West Bank settlements.

Q. Last week you discussed the emerging wave of socio-economic protest and strikes in Israel and its possible broader political significance. In the ensuing days, the protests have expanded radically. Why? Where are they headed?

Q. PM Netanyahu's national security advisor, Yaakov Amidror, is reportedly looking into the possibility of Israel unilaterally cancelling the Oslo accords in response to UN recognition of a Palestinian state in September. What would this mean?

Q. So reassessing Oslo can only end up badly?

Ha'aretz: "We are brethren" by Amos Oz

The resources required for establishing social justice in Israel are located in three places:

First, the billions Israel has invested in the settlements, which are the greatest mistake in the state's history, as well as its greatest injustice...

Read the entire article on the housing protests in Israel

Reading the Conflict - The Oslo Accords

The Oslo Accords were much in the news this past week - Israel has floated the notion that it might "cancel" the Accords if the Palestinians go to the UN to ask for state recognition in September, and it occurred to me: Who the heck remembers the Accords anymore?

Housing and the Settlements: The Dilemma of the Encampments

By former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin 

The housing problem in Israel is not new.  It will also not be solved now.  It has no magic solution, and this is not the sort of thing that changes dramatically following a cabinet resolution or a Knesset law, unless somebody decides to build social housing on an unprecedented scale.  There is no such person, and if there were, I would suggest that he beware of such a move.

Bibi_Housing_Poster186x140.jpgThousands of Israelis are in the streets protesting high housing costs.  It is an amazing, indeed, stunning development.  Israelis from all walks of life are fed up with Israel's wealth gap as it continues to widen.

These protests are not about Netanyahu's policies regarding the Palestinians or the settlements. But let no one be confused: these protests shine a bright spotlight on policies of the Netanyahu government regarding settlements.