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November 2011 Archives

Tolerance, please!

Our intern Benjamin Kasdan wrote the following piece about a disturbing experience, after helping us organize an event in Washington:

As I was leaving an event on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sponsored by Americans for Peace Now earlier this month, an elderly man who noticed that I was carrying an APN sign approached me and asked me if I worked with APN. When I responded that I did, he called me a self-hating Jew, and told me that I should be ashamed of myself.

The encounter shocked me and has been troubling me ever since. Has our community really become that intolerant?

APN Legislative Round-up: November 12-30, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Iran, Israel in FY12 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1867)
3. Odds and Ends

Due to a combination of visitors, travel, and holidays, the Round-Up is once again off schedule (and will not be coming out this Friday). We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.

Man wrote hate e-mails to numerous Peace Now activists including director Yariv Oppenheimer.

A 21-year-old man who has already been indicted for various "price-tag" attacks, including several against activists and employees of Peace Now, was arrested again on Sunday night in connection with death threats he sent via e-mail to members of the organization yesterday.

Police suspect 21-year-old linked to previous price-tag attacks; Peace now dir.-gen. says he received death threat.

Peace Now filed a complaint with police Sunday evening over a series of so-called "price-tag" attacks, which were carried out against the organization's activists.

A number of the organization's leading activists, including Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer, were sent death threats to their personal e-mail accounts on Sunday evening.

Alpher186x140.jpgIn light of recent developments in Egypt, Alpher assesses the wisdom of the Netanyahu government's decision to instruct Israeli diplomats to lobby for maintaining the status of Egypt's military rulers. 

Rabbi_Alana_Suskin186x140.jpgAmericans for Peace Now is pleased to announce the hiring of Rabbi Alana Suskin as its new director of strategic communications.

Rabbi Suskin will join our team in Washington, DC on December 5th.

An experienced pulpit rabbi and a progressive political activist, Rabbi Suskin has for years leveraged Jewish values and ethics to advance causes of peace and justice.

WaPo_Hagit_Collage320x265.jpgThe Washington Post's Sunday edition featured Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now's Settlements Watch project, in a story about the attacks on Israel's democracy and civil society. 

In the face of repeated death threats, she is not intimidated and determined to continue her work, educating the Israeli public about the threat that West Bank settlements pose to Israel's future, Hagit told the Post.  

Shortly after the article was published, Hagit and six of her colleagues at Peace Now again received death threats yesterday, this time by email. 

Giving Thanks for Hagit

Hagit Ofran, Peace Now's Settlements Watch director, has repeatedly been targeted by Jewish terrorists. Just two weeks ago, they painted death threats on her home. But Hagit refuses to give up on Yitzhak Rabin's dream of Israeli-Palestinian peace. In response to the attacks, she delivered the keynote address at the annual rally marking the anniversary of Prime Minister Rabin's tragic assassination.

Last week Commentary published a piece by Evelyn Gordon entitled "If Settlements Are Only 1.1 Percent of West Bank, How Are They an Obstacle to Peace?"  Does the author have a point?  Only in the through-the-looking-glass world of those who will cynically seize on any argument -- even one they almost certainly know has no merit -- to defend, excuse, or justify continued settlement expansion.

Jerusalem Post: "Israel: The beautiful and the ugly"


There can never be social justice in a country with restrictive and anti-democratic laws that strengthen antagonism.

I love Hayarkon Park. It's very close to my home, so I was pleased to accept an invitation last Friday to a Peace Now meeting held in the park's Council for a Beautiful Israel Center.

Jerusalem Post Editorial: "A slippery slope"

Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer said that "Israeli democracy has been surrendered to right-wing extremists and is in a state of bankruptcy."

Read the entire article

Peace Now responds to attacks


In recent days, Peace Now has been facing attacks from many corners. Peace Now's Settlement Watch director received death threats, and a bomb threat was called in at their Jerusalem office. They have also been targeted by an onslaught of anti-democratic bills in the Knesset. But Peace Now refuses to be silenced.

Yariv Oppenhiemer responds to the anti-democratic Knesset measures, saying "we are the real patriots."

In the face of death threats, Hagit Ofran says "she who believes does not fear."

NPR / AP: "Israel Shuts Down Dovish Radio Station"

All_For_Peace_Radio186x140.jpgBy Amichai Atali

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel has ordered the shutdown of a dovish Israeli-Palestinian radio station, officials and the station's operators said on Sunday.

(NOTE: The station's director Mossi Raz is a former director of Peace Now in Israel)

Washington_Post_Editorial186x140.jpg" is shocking to see Israel's democratic government propose measures that could silence its own critics."

Thumbnail image for Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher gives an update on the status of anti-democratic Knesset efforts to stifle civil society in Israel, and expounds on the rising influence of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities in the IDF.

We are the real patriots

Thumbnail image for Yariv Maariv.jpg(Interview with Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer; Maariv, 11/20/11, by Amichai Atali - Translation by Israel News Today)

If the series of bills whose purpose is to place restrictions on left-wing organizations in Israel is approved by the Knesset in the near future, one of the organizations that can be expected to be hit hardest is Peace Now.

APN Interview with Mossi Raz

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Mossi_Raz_All_For_Peace186x140.jpgNovember 21, 2011 Radio All for Peace was ordered to cease broadcasting by the Israeli ministry of communications, the latest target of the Israeli government's campaign to silence dissent. Mossi Raz, a former Knesset member (Meretz) and former Secretary General of Peace Now, jointly owns the radio station. Raz talks to APN about the attempt to silence a radio station that strives to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"She who believes does not fear"

(Yedioth Ahronoth, 11/18/11, by Uri Misgav, p. B18 - Translation by Israel News)

Last Tuesday, Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now's Settlement Watch project, received a surprising visit.  Six settlers, members of the small "Eretz Shalom" [Land of Peace] movement, wished to express regret for the events of the day.  They were headed by Rabbi Menahem Froman, who despite his severe illness, insisted on holding the visit.

An anti-democratic onslaught

Peace Now is again under attack. 

Today's attackers are not rightwing terrorists but rather members of the Israeli Knesset, the very people  entrusted with protecting Israeli democracy 

The latest in an onslaught of anti-democratic bills presented to the Knesset is directed chiefly at Peace Now's litigation efforts regarding West Bank settlement construction. The bill, made public yesterday, would disallow petitions against the Israeli government to Israel's High Court by "public petitioners" such as Peace Now, unless they petition alongside a private individual who is harmed by government policies. 

What started as a trickle of anti-democratic Knesset legislation, is turning into a stream and may soon become a flood. Here is a partial list of such legislative initiatives, prepared by our intern Brian Reeves. Most of the following bills were submitted by members of Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud Party.
  • 16 November 2011 - Bill to curtail left-wing groups' ability to represent victims in the High Court.  "Public petitioners" who are not a direct victim will not be permitted to file petitions for individual victims.  
  • 9 November 2011 - Two bills to limit foreign funding to Israeli NGOs.  The first would limit the funds Israeli organizations could receive from foreign government entities to NIS 20,000, while the second would place a 45% tax on these funds.  

APN Briefing Call with Peace Now's Hagit Ofran

Hagit_Rabin_Rally_Closeup85x90.jpgHagit Ofran talks about recent attacks on Peace Now, as well as about government- and Knesset-led attempts to silence Peace Now and other components of Israel's civil society.

The outpost, Derekh Ha'avot, established early 2001 and is home to about 35 families; according to report 60 percent of the community is on Palestinian farmland.

By Chaim Levinson

Hagit_w_Rabin_Background320x265.jpgRecently targeted by right-wing Israeli extremists because of her work as the director of Peace Now's Settlements Watch project, Ofran was the keynote speaker at the annual Tel Aviv rally commemorating the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Watch a video of the speech (English subtitles) 

APN Denounces Anti-Democratic Legislation in Israel

Bibi_at_Podium186x140.jpgYesterday an Israeli Ministerial committee voted to support two new bills that directly target Israeli democracy. See relates articles from the Washington & Jerusalem Posts.

The purpose of these bills is to quash Israeli civil society groups, including those fighting for peace, human rights and civil rights, by fatally curtailing their ability to raise funds.

"Today the government made it clear that it is not the law that rules in Israel, but the law breakers" (Michael Sfard, attorney for Peace Now and Yesh Din)

Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer: "The government is trying to stifle the law and does not care about the position of the attorney-general, who determined that the proposed law is unconstitutional," said Oppenheimer. "Israeli democracy has been surrendered to right-wing extremists and is in a state of bankruptcy."

By Trudy Rubin

JERUSALEM - When Hagit Ofran woke up Tuesday - within days of the 16th anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - she found death threats spray-painted on her door.

"You are dead. Ofran, Rabin is waiting for you," was the message scrawled in red against the white walls of her stairwell.

Smearing Israel's 'Peace Now' Movement

By Ted Lieverman

During the Vietnam War, many Americans held the notion that all antiwar activists were naïve pacifists, draft-dodgers or ungrateful traitors. That was largely a myth that allowed members of the public to ignore the content of the activists' messages about the war.

There may be a similarly mistaken notion about the peace movement in Israel, as the Israeli right-wing repeatedly castigates those who favor a two-state solution that would create a viable Palestine as an independent nation. In the last two months, criticism has moved to more dangerous attacks against Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), the oldest and most active peace organization in Israel.

Rabin_Rally1_2011_186x140.jpgHa'aretz: "Peace Now activist Ofran: 'We must not fear. We are here, and we are many'"

Jerusalem Post: "16 years on: Annual Tel Aviv rally remembers Rabin"

Prominent speakers included Hagit Ofran, director of Peace Now's Settlement Watch project: "The graffiti was sprayed in my home, but the taunts are in all of our stairwells. The tag may have marked me, but we all pay the price. We must not fear. We are here, and we are many.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher tackles many regional developments, including new Knesset legislation that targets human rights and peace groups, the departure of Dennis Ross, and Syria's ouster from the Arab League.

Hagit_on_Apartment_Steps320x265.jpgby Trudy Rubin, Inquirer Opinion Columnist

JERUSALEM - When Hagit Ofran woke up Tuesday - within days of the 16th anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - she found death threats spray-painted on her door.

(Ofran is pictured on her stairwell amidst the graffiti-ed death threats)

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending November 11, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Syria Hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
3. Some additional aid to the Palestinians released by Ros-Lehtinen
4. Odds and Ends

Our American-Jewish Stake in Israeli Democracy

This blog post was written by APN intern Brian Reeves.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's support for two upcoming bills aimed at preventing progressive Israeli non-governmental organizations from receiving anything more than token funding represents only the most recent in a string of anti-democratic measures that the current governing coalition has instigated against Israel's democratic character.

Terrorism Won't Win

action_alert2.jpgTake action now.  This is not about right or left; it is about right or wrong.

The terrorism of radical settlers and their supporters is clearly escalating. Recent months have seen repeated attacks by these Jewish terrorists against peace activists, Palestinians, the IDF and police, and against a mosque and a Muslim and a Christian cemetery inside Israel. 

Articles on latest violent threats against Peace Now

Why We Have Taken a Stand with the Supreme Court

On November 7, Israel's Haaretz newspaper published an article in Hebrew by APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee explaining why we chose to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the authority of the Executive Branch to determine policy on sensitive foreign policy issues such as the status of Jerusalem.

Following is an English translation of the article:

Urge Other Jewish Organizations to Speak Out

Ask other Jewish groups to raise their voice in support of tolerance and political pluralism in Israel. Below is sample text of a letter to use when contacting these groups. Use this text or write a letter of your own.

Urge Your Rabbi to Take this Issue to the Congregation

Ask your Rabbi to talk about rising intolerance in Israel and threats to Israeli democracy and free speech: 

Write to Israeli Ambassador Oren

Below is sample text for a letter to Israel's ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. Use this text or write a letter of your own. Email all letters here, and we will collect and send them to the embassy.

Dear Ambassador Oren:

Over the weekend a terrorist called in a bomb threat to Peace Now's Jerusalem office and left "Price Tag" graffiti at the site.  On Monday night, terrorists sprayed-painted death threats on Hagit Ofran's Jerusalem home, writing:  "Hagit Ofran, Rabin awaits you" and "Hagit Ofran, z'l".

Take Action Now

As people who support a democratic, pluralistic Israel, consistent with our core values as Jews and Americans, we must refuse to be silent in the face of these attacks by radical settlers and their supporters. 

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now calls on pro-Israel US organizations to take a stand, publicly and vociferously, against Israeli political violence and in support of democracy, tolerance and political pluralism in the Jewish State.
APN especially calls on fellow American Jewish organizations to condemn the attacks on Israel's Peace Now movement, which include repeated death threats, vandalizing and harassment.

Rabin Awaits You

HagitVandalism320x265.jpgIdo (Sany) Arazi is a Tel Aviv graphic artist who designs posters for Israeli Peace organizations. Last week he was working on a poster for Yitzhak Rabin's Memorial Day, which will be marked tomorrow in Israel. Sany prepared a sketch saying "Israel Awaits Murder - 16 years after Rabin's murder and a little before the next murder." He put it aside because he thought it may be too alarmist. 

Today, on his Facebook page, Sany wrote that it obviously is not. The terrorists who sprayed death threats at Hagit Ofran's Jerusalem home today left no room for doubt when they wrote:  "Hagit Ofran, Rabin awaits you." 
Price_Tag_Car_Graffiti_Death_to_Traitors320x265.jpg"Hagit Ofran, Rabin is waiting for you" was one of the spray-painted slogans, the second time in months that Ofran has been targeted, allegedly by right-wing extremists angry over dismantling of illegal West Bank settlements.

Read the article

Pictured: Jerusalem car with Peace stickers tagged with "Death to Traitors"

APN Condemns Attacks on Israel's Peace Now Movement

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the continued threats and attacks on members of its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now.
Last night, someone pushed the intercom button at the Jerusalem building that houses Peace Now's office. A neighbor was told: "This building will explode in five minutes." The frightened residents and a Peace Now staff member immediately evacuated the building. Outside they found "Price Tag" graffiti. "Price Tag" is what the extremist settlers call their campaign to intimidate and silence Israelis and Palestinians who support a two-state solution to the conflict.

Why We Have Taken a Stand with the US Supreme Court

Supreme_Court_w_APNlines_186x140.jpgBy Debra DeLee

An important case, Zivotofsky v. Clinton, is about to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It relates to U.S. policy on Jerusalem, but isn't really about Jerusalem.  Rather, it is about longstanding efforts by the U.S. Congress to wrest foreign policy-making authority away from the executive branch.  How this case is decided will have far-reaching ramifications for America's policy, far beyond Jerusalem.

This building will blow up in five minutes!

JerusalemBombThreat186x140.jpgLast night, someone pushed the intercom button at the Jerusalem building that houses Peace Now's office. A neighbor was told: "This building will explode in five minutes." The frightened residents and a Peace Now staff member immediately evacuated the building. Outside they found "Price Tag" graffiti. "Price Tag" is what the extreme settlers call their campaign to intimidate and silence Israelis and Palestinians who support a two-state solution to the conflict. 

Q. The wave of publicity over a potential Israeli attack against Iran appears to have become almost hysterical. Can you put it into proportion?

Q. Last week, the state of Palestine was awarded full membership by UNESCO. Israel and the US have responded by "punishing" the PA. Can you put this issue, too, into proportion?

Spring 2012 Internships at Americans for Peace Now

Intern Event Group 186x140.jpgAre 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 Spring 2012 semester.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending November 4, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. HFAC Mark-Up Further Ratchets Up the Pressure on Iran
4. Odds and Ends

Hijacked by Legislative Anachronisms

As everybody who cares about foreign policy (and hasn't been living under a rock) knows by now, earlier this week the PLO was admitted as a full member by UNESCO, triggering pre-existing U.S. laws that mandate an immediate and 100% cut-off in U.S. funding to UNESCO.  These laws likewise mandate such a cut-off of funding to the UN, any specialized agency of the UN, or any affiliated organization of the UN who follows suit.  With the Palestinians reportedly planning to apply for membership in at least 16 more agencies, the specter of a far-reaching U.S. withdrawal from international agencies - including from agencies like the IAEA and WIPO, looms large.  And with it looms the specter of far-reaching consequences for U.S. international influence, leverage, and engagement, and for the U.S ability to protect and promote its interests across the whole spectrum of issues around the globe.

Absent from the reporting and debate around this issue is any real notice of the fact that the rationale that existed for passage of these laws in 1990 and 1994 no longer exists.  Objectively speaking, what we are seeing today is U.S. policy at the UN being hijacked by a pair of legislative anachronisms.

Earlier this week, members of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), voted to admit the PLO as "the state of Palestine," with full member-state status in that organization.

This action triggers an existing U.S. law, first passed in 1991 and then strengthened in 1994, that compels the U.S. to cut off all funding to UNESCO.  With the Palestinians reportedly poised to seek membership in as many as 16 other UN member organizations, this law could mean the U.S. effective withdrawal from a wide range of international bodies. 

Settlements in Focus (Nov. 1, 2011): Settlements Back on the Agenda

OutpostLieverman186x140.jpgVol. 7, Issue 1

Talk about settlement construction and a possible new settlement freeze is again in the news. In this edition of Settlements in Focus, we will highlight a number of post-moratorium trends, analyze the current talk about a new settlement freeze, and suggest what would actually be required to make a freeze sufficiently credible to restart, or continue for more than a brief interlude, Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  Please note that the numbers in this document reflect the best information that Peace Now has been able to obtain; additional approvals of construction and planning may have been issued that have not yet come to light.

Huffpost_World_Lara_Friedman186x140.jpgIn recent weeks members of Congress have written to UNESCO to let leaders of that organization know that upgrading the status of the PLO will jeopardize U.S. funding to that organization. On 10/5/11, Rep. Granger (R-TX), Chair of the Appropriations Committee's Foreign Operations subcommittee, issued a statement warning UNESCO that upgrading the PLO's status could lead to a cut-off of U.S. funding. Rep. Lowey (D-NY), ranking minority member on the ForOps subcommittee, issued a similar statement on 10/5/11.

Lara Freedman, director of policy and government relations with Americans for Peace Now, blamed strong pro-Israel lobbying by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and American Jewish and right-wing Christian communities.

"The narrative that says that 'the Palestinians' decision to go to the UN is a form of diplomatic terrorism that cannot go unpunished' has firmly taken root," she said.

"It is all under dispute and anything beyond the 1967 lines needs to be established under international law," Ofra said. "In the big settlements there is constantly construction. These are massive cities that are treated as such by Israel." She added, however, that smaller outposts in the West Bank - often consisting of several trailer homes and a cabin on a hilltop - are also seeing a push in growth.

"The settlement movement is consistently growing," she said.

"The status quo - in which Israel continues to pursue policies that are anathema to the two-state solution and in which the Obama administration is unable or unwilling to exercise convincing leadership to restore credibility to its peace policy - will lead only to further isolation and marginalisation of both Israel and the United States in the international community," the group (Americans for Peace Now) warned.