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April 2012 Archives

Book Review: Anthony Shadid's House of Stone

House_of_Stone186x140.jpgThis is the second in a series of reviews of new books on Middle Eastern affairs. We asked Dr. Gail Weigl, an APN volunteer and a professor of art history, to review the late Anthony Shadid's book on his Southern Lebanese family roots. Following is Gail's review.

Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), $26.00

This haunting memoir, deeply poignant in its own right, is made yet more poignant by the untimely death of its author, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Middle East correspondent for The New York Times, Anthony Shadid.
Ashkenazi_and_Dayan.jpgWho's Responsibile for the Diplomatic Stalemate? by Ori Nir
"The next time people tell you that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the only one responsible for the of Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic stalemate, send them to Shimon Peres and Yuval Diskin."

Israeli Security Establishment Storming Out of the Closet on Iran by Lara Friedman
"This weekend the world got a close-up view of the growing rift between Israel's own security experts and its politicians..."

Picture: Former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi (left) and former Mossad chief Dagan at a New York conference, April 29, 2012. Photo by: Mark Yisrael Salem

Who's Responsibile for the Diplomatic Stalemate?

diskin-yuval186x140.jpgThe next time people tell you that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the only one responsible for the of Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic stalemate, send them to Shimon Peres and Yuval Diskin.

Everyone knows President Peres, who has been in Israeli politics longer than any living soul, and who knows Israeli politicians better than anyone. Peres urged the international community, after Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister three years ago to trust Netanyahu's commitment to peace with the Palestinians.

Israeli Security Establishment Storming Out of the Closet on Iran

Ashkenazi_and_Dayan.jpgThis weekend the world got a close-up view of the growing rift between Israel's own security experts and its politicians.  The venue was a conference in New York organized by the Jerusalem Post.  During the conference a public argument over Iran broke out between former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Israeli Minister of Environment Gilad Erdan, a career Likud politician whose resume does not include any significant military/security experience.  

Yossi Alpher 3.jpgQ. ...Is the government complying this time with the Court's ruling (to dismantle the Ulpana Illegal Outpost)?

Q. The Independence Day weekend in Israel seems to have invited rather outspoken assessments by prominent Israeli security figures regarding Iran's nuclear program and the Netanyahu-Barak policymaking duo. What does this tell us...?

Q. Why elections so soon? What is happening to trigger them?

Who is Delegitimizing Israel?

rechelim320x265.jpg This week, we remembered. We remembered, with the people of Israel, their losses in war, their sorrow, and their struggle to build a just and democratic society. This week, we celebrated. We celebrated 64 years of the independence of a young nation, a nation that was born from the tears of generations, a nation based, in the words of David Ben Gurion, on "freedom, justice and peace." From sorrow to joy, we remembered and we celebrated with the people of Israel, knowing that we yet have a long road to walk together until we reach the goal of a nation of equal justice for all, of peace with its neighbors. But with hope, we remembered the past, and looked to the future.

We believe that Israel can and must coexist peacefully with a future Palestinian state if it is to survive as a democracy and a Jewish state. It is still possible. It is within reach. Unless.
Washington, DC - The Israeli government today announced its determination to once again flout Israeli law in order to protect another illegal settler outpost in the West Bank.  The outpost is called "Givat Ha'Ulpana" and is located deep inside the West Bank, near Ramallah, and far to the east of Israel's "separation barrier."  The Israeli government had previously promised the Israeli High Court of Justice that it would remove the illegal construction but today announced that it had changed its mind.

Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending April 27, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Hearings & Confirmations
3.  Members on the Record
4.  From the Press

Bibi Govt Establishes 3 New Settlements: What You Need to Know

On April 24th the Israeli Government issued a brief press release (Hebrew) stating:  "The Ministerial Team that was nominated by the Government, decided to legalize the settlement points of Sansana, Rechelim and Bruchin, which were established during the 90's based on previous governments' decisions." 

With this decision, these three outposts become new "legal" settlements in the West Bank, with all the benefits that entails, including the right to plan and expand. 

This is the first time a government of Israel has formally established even a single new settlement since the Shamir Government in 1990.  Moreover, all Israeli governments have promised to remove the illegal outposts (as required, for example, under the he Roadmap). However, until now, no real outpost has been ever removed.

JERUSALEM -- Israel announced Tuesday that it has legalized three unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank, a move that Palestinians and anti-settlement activists condemned as a step toward creating the first new settlements in more than a decade.

The decision marked the latest effort by Israel's right-wing coalition government to prevent evictions -- some of them court-ordered -- of Jewish settlers who have established communities without government permission in the West Bank, where Israel occupies land that Palestinians want for a future state.

Read the article
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his Cabinet has decided to retroactively legalize three West Bank outposts that previous governments had conceded were built without permission, marking the first step toward what critics fear will become Israel's first official new settlements since 1990.

The decision late Monday by a Cabinet committee begins a long administrative process to authorize the small settlements of Rehalim, Sansana and Bruchin.

The move infuriated Palestinians and frustrated the international community, which has been pushing Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and refrain from taking actions that might hinder efforts to restart peace talks.

read the article
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a worthy and serious partner, and it was certainly possible to reach a peace agreement with him during the past three years, President Shimon Peres told Haaretz.

"I am aware that there are other opinions [about whether Abbas can or wants to make peace], but I don't accept them, and I have a little experience," Peres said during an interview last week in the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

read the article

APN Denounces New West Bank Settlements


Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now joins its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now, in strongly denouncing the Israeli government's authorizing of three new West Bank settlements, thus violating its commitment not to establish new settlements and reneging on its longstanding commitment to remove illegal outposts.

dictionary186x140.jpgIn characterizing all non-violent Palestinian measures as terrorism, Israel insults the memory of victims of real acts of terror.

Yesterday was Yom Hazikaron, Israeli Remembrance Day. Every year on this day Israelis stop to remember their fellow citizens who have given their lives for the sake of Israel, whether in wars or at the hands of terrorists.

At a recent briefing in Washington, a prominent scholar observed that the crisis over Iran's nuclear program is similar to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in that the contours of a negotiated solution are well-known--what is lacking is the political will and leadership to get there.

With new Iran talks underway, this is an important insight. And it's a corollary to something that my friend and colleague, Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann, often says about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The challenge is to bridge between the politically impossible and the historically inevitable.

When She's Sixty-four?


As the Master of Ceremonies at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl announced the end of Yom HaZikaron, Israel's solemn Memorial Day, and ushered in Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, Independence Day, millions of Israelis, having just ended a day of remembrance and mourning for the fallen, are sweeping the streets to celebrate their country's 64th birthday.


Netanyahu forms panel to legalize Rechelim, Bruchin, Sansana; Peace Now: PM developing settlements at expense of peace.


Also included: AFP: "Netanyahu tasks panel to solve settlement row"
Hagit Ofran, of Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, said the debate proved ministers were trying to renege on the government's pledge to the supreme court.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner hitting a Danish pro-Palestinian demonstrator with his rifle; the significance of the delivery to PM Netanyahu a list of PLO preconditions for renewing negotiations; two "early warning signs" on the Palestinian issue; and the visit last week to the Temple Mount mosques by the grand mufti of Egypt.

Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending April 20, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Clinton Over-Rules Ros-Lehtinen on Palestinian Aid
3.  Hearings & Confirmations
4.  Members on the Record
5.  From the Press

Congress was back this week from its Spring Break.  During the break, there were two APN articles of note, both in the Daily Beast's Open Zion blog: Israel's Less-Than-Resilient Democracy (a response to Ambassador Oren) and Yes, Israel is Thriving, But All's Not Well (a response to Elliott Abrams).   Another important piece worth highlighting is by NIAC's Jamal Abdi in the Huffington Post 4/13/12: How Hawks on the Hill Plan to Kill Talks with Iran

Also, NORPAC's annual mission to Washington is coming up on May 9.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses the ceasefire in Syria, the "fly-in" of Palestinian supporters to Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday and ensuing commotion, and why Israel and the US can't agree on freeing Jonathan Pollard.
friedmanbeast186x140.jpgAccording to the latest article by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Israeli democracy is "more robust and effervescent than ever."  Reading his lengthy piece, a variation on Queen Gertrude's quip comes to mind: "The Ambassador doth protest too much, methinks."


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

They Say: It is impossible to make peace with Arabs or Muslims, because ultimately they just want to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses Mofaz's upset over Livni in the Kadima leadership primary, whether Marwan Barghouti's appeal for Palestinians to launch a third, "popular" intifada and to boycott all contact with Israel and all Israeli products resonates with Palestinians, and, a decade later, what is the legacy of the conflict of the launching of Israel's massive military response to the second intifada, following the worst Palestinian suicide bombing ever.

protest against ultra-orthodox186x140.jpgElliott Abrams says J Street (and along with J Street, no doubt, all Americans and Israelis who define themselves as the pro-Israel, pro-peace Left) isn't really worried about Israel's fate as a Jewish state and a democracy.

No, says Abrams, "the gloom and doom is absurd... As to internal matters in Israel, we've heard all that before: a couple of decades ago people said the Sephardi-Ashkenazi splits would deepen and threaten national unity.... J Street's real problem is that Israel is thriving under [conservative] Likud leadership and it drives them crazy."

Abrams' statement raises the question: is the doom and gloom really absurd, and how does he define "thriving"?

A Noble Gesture of Peace

During many years of covering and following Israeli-Palestinian relations, I have repeatedly observed Palestinians being pushed to the frustrating corner in which the political wall of Israeli occupation meets the wall of Israeli law. I have seldom seen Palestinians, with their back to these walls, extending their hand in peace and reconciliation.