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May 2012 Archives

If you still don't think you are part of the Establishment, maybe it's time to take the Establishment back. These are not smoky back rooms with secret membership lists.
By Mira Sucharov

Remember the old Lenny Bruce routine where he declares some objects "Jewish" and others "goyish"? Count Basie, Hadassah, pumpernickel, and black cherry soda: Jewish. Eddie Cantor, B'nai Brith, Drake's cakes, and lime Jello, on the other hand, clearly goyish. The sketch was funny, of course, because it contained a thin streak of cultural insight cloaked in the absurdity of being so arbitrary.

I'm reminded of Bruce's routine in the ongoing debate, highlighted again by last week's heinous Tel Aviv riots, as to who and what constitutes the overworked term the "Jewish Establishment."

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madonna186x140.jpgPop star Madonna deserves praise for her tribute to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The world's top selling female recording artist of all times chose to launch her new world tour in Israel. She is using the podium and the global attention to help advance Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Yesterday, at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, Madonna promised that at her debut performance, tonight, she will talk about peace. Madonna also donated 600 tickets to Israeli and Palestinian peace activists as a salute to their important work.


L'Dor V'Dor: The Legacy of 45 years of Military Occupation A Discussion with Yael Dayan, Civil Rights Activist and daughter of General Moshe Dayan

Forty-five years separate us from those six days in June 1967 which forever shifted the course of Israeli society. Please join Yael Dayan as she discusses the human rights concerns inevitable in a situation of prolonged occupation, reflecting on Israel's past and prospects for a secure and peaceful future.

Time: Sunday, June 3, 2012 7-9pm

Location: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah,
57 Bethune Street, New York, NY 10014

Join Co-sponsors Americans for Peace Now, B'tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights North America, and partners for Progressive Israel to spend an evening with Yael Dayan

RSVP Online:

paradephoto_apn1.jpgMarch with us and our coalition of progressive, pro-Israel organizations at the 2012 Celebrate Israel Parade under the banner

"Roots of Justice, Branches of Peace"

Sunday, June 3rd, New York City
10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Snippets of the Insanity That the Occupation Is


Dear Friend of Israel,

Who would you least expect to see joining a Peace Now tour of West Bank settlements? Right, West Bank settlers.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses the Tel Aviv demonstrations against African migrants, the first round of presidential elections in Egypt and a possible a "Yemeni" solution in Syria, as well as "the Arab mindset" at this time of revolution.

Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending May 25, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Senate Passes More Iran Sanctions
3.  Senate Moves on FY13 ForOps - Includes Attack on Palestinian Refugee Status
4.  Members on the Record
5.  From the Press

Happy Shavuot!

Tablets186x140.jpgThe holiday of Shavuot, which begins this Saturday night, celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

There are many traditions associated with Shavuot, including staying up throughout the night to study but among the most beloved is the eating of dairy meals (and cheesecake for we Americans!). This tradition is sometimes explained as being derived from the fact that the gift of Torah and its teachings are a guide towards justice and compassion. Killing, even killing for meat, which is permitted under some circumstances, is incompatible with these ways of Cheesecake186x140.jpgcompassion. On this holiday of Shavuot,let us tap into our compassion for others, and build the world that was always intended for us -- a world of justice and compassion.

Arthur_P_Stern186x140.jpgWashington, DC - Americans for Peace Now is mourning the death of Arthur Stern, one of APN's longtime leaders. Arthur died in his home in Los Angeles overnight at 87.

Arthur was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1925. His amazing life story combined Holocaust-era heroism, scientific excellence, pioneering technological innovation, passionate pro-Israel activism, Jewish community volunteer work, and a stellar devotion to peace and justice.

Racism in Israel: a Predictable Byproduct of Occupation

Two generations of Israelis have now been born and raised in an Israel that must constantly find ways to justify the occupation, including justifying both the denial of rights and freedoms to Palestinians and the ever-growing settlement enterprise.  As those justifications become harder and harder to make - whether in the context of a moribund peace process or in the context of Israel facing harsh criticism for its actions in Gaza or against the flotilla, or in the context of Palestinian hunger strikers challenging Israel's policy of holding them indefinitely without trial (euphemistically called "administrative detention") - a tribalist, circle-the-wagons mentality, more pronounced than at any time in Israeli's history, is coming to the fore in Israeli society.  

The ugly racism that was on display last night in Tel Aviv was a symptom of this phenomenon.  A rally against African migrants turned violent and a race riot ensued.  It followed on the heels of a rally earlier in the week characterized by similarly racist, hateful themes.

Legislating the Refugee Problem (LFriedman at The Daily Beast)

Mark_Kirk186x140.jpgYou have to laugh, or it would make you cry. That is, if you are someone who genuinely cares about Israel and believes that the two-state solution is the only thing that can save Israel as a democracy and a Jewish state, and that can end the occupation and permit the Palestinians to live, finally, as a free people with dignity and self-determination.

antisudanese_riot20x265actual.jpgThe outrage that took place in Tel Aviv last night must be a wake-up call to Israelis and to all American Jews who care about Israel.  

All of us who love Israel and are committed to peace and a democratic Israel are disgusted and outraged by the events that took place last night in Tel Aviv, where a xenophobic demonstration turned into a race riot targeting African migrants.  Some Israeli elected officials, including from the ruling Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu, fanned the flames of hatred at the demonstration.  Likud Knesset Member Miri Regev, for example, called African migrants "a cancer in our body."

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) welcomes the bipartisan letter that 71 members of the House of Representatives sent to President Obama yesterday, in support of ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:  "At a time when bipartisanship is rarely seen on Capitol Hill, Congressmen Price and Dreier deserve credit for looking past partisan politics to initiate this constructive and timely letter in support of resolving the Iran crisis through diplomacy. We commend them for doing so and we commend all the members, from both parties, who signed on."

"Regrettably, recent actions in the House may have sent a message that House members are not wholly supportive of ongoing diplomatic efforts to deal with Iran. This letter helps correct that impression, making clear that these diplomatic efforts have strong, bipartisan congressional backing, and setting out a clearer statement regarding congressional intent regarding 'nuclear weapons capability,' consistent with the definition articulated by Rep. Berman (D-CA) last week."

APN, a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace, has for years been urging Washington to address Iran's nuclear quest rationally and responsibly.



PLO response to Forbes-McIntyre

Price-Dreier (Final with signatures)

klutznick_isr_tour186x140.jpgCHICAGO (JTA) -- When a family member behaves self-destructively, what do you do? Do you become an apologist, an enabler, or do you call him out? Do you blame everyone else but him, or do you intervene? Do you sit back and just hope things will improve on their own, or do you take urgent action?

Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher discusses the agreement that ended the Palestinian prisoners' mass hunger strike last week, why Egyptian leaders can't do much about the lawlessness in the Sinai, and the spillover effect of the Syrian revolution.

Iran on Capitol Hill

IranMap186x140.jpgCongress this past week made an effort to send a tough message on Iran - both to Iran and to the White House - as the Obama administration and its allies prepare for the May 23rd talks with Iran. APN expressed concern about some of this congressional action, but also welcomed some of this week's developments on Capitol Hill regarding Iran.

For APN's full report on this week's fascinating developments on Capitol Hill, read the latest edition of Lara Friedman's weekly Legislative Roundup. Lara Friedman is APN's Director of Policy and Government Relations.

Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending May 18, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  House Passes Iran "Red Lines" Resolution, but Important Clarifications Now on the Record
3.  House Passes FY13 NDAA (details or Iran/Mideast Amendments)
4.  Senate Tries, and Fails, to Pass More Iran Sanctions
5.  Hearings & Confirmations
6.  Members on H. Res. 568 (red lines resolution)
7.  Members on the Record
8.  From the Press

With new Iran talks set for May 23rd, and the House adjourning at the end of this week until May 30, one of the main themes of the week in both the House and Senate was Iran (as is evident from the table of contents of today's Round-Up).  

The apparent goal was for Congress to send "messages" to Iran about how tough it is prepared to be if Iran doesn't play ball in talks.  Supporters of this approach suggest that Congress is helping the president, acting as the "bad cop" to the president's "good cop," and letting Iran know that "if you don't deal with him, you're going to have to deal with us."   

Critics of this approach, on the other hand, suggest that Congress is undermining the effort to find a way, short of war, to address Iran's nuclear program - by sending a message to Iran that the President does not have the support he needs to negotiate any agreement with Iran, even if Iran is ready to make one.  The latter is not far-fetched, given that most sanctions in place against Iran today have been imposed via laws passed by Congress (meaning they can only be lifted by Congress passing a new law) rather than, as was the case in the past, by acts of the President (i.e., via executive orders that the President had the authority, on his own, to rescind).  Indeed, some members are coming out openly opposing diplomacy - for example, in a statement 5/17/12, HFAC Chair Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, noted that she was "deeply concerned that the Administration's foolish embrace of yet another round of negotiations will only embolden the regime."

Forbes-McIntyre letter

APN Applauds House Committee for Clarifying that Bill doesn't not Authorize Use of Force against Iran; Urges Passage of "Iran Special Envoy" Amendment
Washington, DC - Last night the House began consideration of HR FY13 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Americans for Peace Now (APN) has serious concerns that Part C of the bill could be interpreted as an authorization of use of force against Iran.  APN strongly supports the amendment offered by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX), to "clarify that nothing in the bill shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran."   

congress186x139.jpg Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today welcomed clarifications offered last night on the House floor regarding the intent behind H. Res. 568 (to be passed by the House later today) and called on House members to sign a congressional letter supporting diplomacy with Iran.


Below is the message sent May 16, 2012 to House staffers expressing APN's encouragement to members to sign this constructive, timely, bipartisan letter in support of a diplomatic effort whose success is important to the national security of both the U.S. and Israel.

I want to draw your attention to a bipartisan Dear Colleague letter currently circulating in the House, seeking cosigners on a letter to President Obama regarding upcoming P5+1 talks in Baghdad. The letter was initiated by Reps. Price (D-NC) and Dreier (R-CA).


Thank you so much for taking action on H. Res. 568 - it made a difference (see below). Now we need you to follow up and take action one more time this week.

Tell your member of Congress: Sign the Price-Dreier letter to President Obama.

Price-Dreier letter


Below is the message sent May 14, 2012 to House staffers expressing APN's opposition to H. Res. 568.

Tomorrow, the House is scheduled to bring H. Res. 568, dealing with Iran, to the floor under suspension of the rules.

Americans for Peace Now (APN) urges members of Congress to vote NO or PRESENT on this resolution.

IranMap186x140.jpg The House is scheduled to vote tomorrow on H. Res. 568, an Iran-focused resolution that seeks to lower the bar for war, to tie the President's hands in negotiations, and to effectively take all options, except the military option, off the table. It appears to be no coincidence that this resolution is being brought to a vote now, just as a new round of Iran diplomacy is set to take place on May 23.

Call your member of Congress today and tell them: vote "No" or "Present" on H. Res. 568.
mofazanyahu186x140.jpgNetanyahu's last-minute unity government

Alpher discusses why PM Netanyahu reversed himself last week at the last minute, canceled the September 4 general election, and brought Kadima into a broad unity government, and what do he and Mofaz stand to gain or lose.

Legislative Round-Up: Week Ending May 11, 2012

APN Legislative Round-Up
     for the week ending
          May 11, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  Draft House version of Defense Authorization Ups the Ante on Iran
3.  FY13 Foreign Ops - House Version
4.  Hearings & Confirmations
5.  Members on Passage of HR 4133
6.  Members on the Record
7.  From the Press

Israeli leading columnist explains Likud-Kadima alliance

akiva_eldar186x139.jpgAPN hosted leading Israeli political commentator, Akiva Eldar of Haaretz on May 10th, for a briefing call on the latest dramatic political developments in Israel.

Americans for Peace Now Board Member Mandy Patinkin today toured the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Israel's Peace Now movement and spoke at an annual conference of Israel's peace camp, addressing a crowd of 700 progressive activists.

Oren at GA186x140.jpgThank you, Ambassador Oren.  On Sunday you told an audience in Detroit what "pro-Israel" means.

You said that "The person who is pro-Israel recalls what Jewish life was like without a Jewish state and works to ensure that there always will be a Jewish state." Someone who "knows that there is a place at our table for divergent views. But irrespective of politics... asks, 'how can I contribute to Israel, how can I enrich it and be enriched by it...?'"  Someone who "appreciates the immense threats the people of Israel face every day" and "understands the threats to Israel of not achieving peace but also understands the threat to Israel of making a peace that will quickly unravel..."
While incumbents around the world are struggling to hold on, one is thriving. By bringing the rival Kadima party into his ruling coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu has become "king of Israel," in Aaron David Miller's phrase. He has an unusual, perhaps unique, opportunity to use his new power to secure Israel's future.

Netanyahu's coalition now commands the largest parliamentary majority in Israeli history. He faces no plausible rival as prime minister. When pushed on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu has often cited the constraints of his coalition to explain why he had not taken bolder steps toward resolution. Perhaps he liked being constrained: He refused to form a national unity government in 1996 (with Shimon Peres) and refused again in 2009 (with Tzipi Livni). But now he has a broad enough base of support -- with many moderates -- and could move toward a peace settlement without endangering his hold on power.

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Lag b'Omer

elections186x140.jpgLast night's dramatic news caught everyone by surprise: following secret negotiations, the Kadima party has agreed to join Benjamin Netanyahu's government, establishing a "unity government."  On its  face, this breathtaking political development in Israel does not promise a breakthrough toward peace. But as it is with every major shakeup, the new alliance between Israel's largest parties also presents opportunities.

As we reported earlier, on April 27th Israeli government announced its intention to once again flout Israeli law in order to protect another illegal settler outpost -- "Givat Ha'Ulpana" (aka Jabel Artis).  This outpost 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 at this site by May 1, 2012, but as that deadline approached, last month the State told the court that it had changed its mind and asked for more time to find a way to "legalize" the illegal construction.

The Supreme Court, however, apparently has not changed its mind on the question of whether rule of law applies to outposts.  On May 6th, that court of rejected the State's request to postpone Ulpana's eviction.  The Court ruled, instead, that the demolition must be carried out by July 1st.  The full court ruling is available here (Hebrew only).

Peace Now's Lawyer on Israel's Illegal Outpost Policy

Michael Sfard at Podium 186x140.jpgThe Israeli Supreme Court handed another ruling, on May 7th, blasting the Israeli government's position on illegal West Bank "outposts, built on land privately owned by Palestinians. Peace Now's lawyer, Michael Sfard, talks about the case and its significance.

Read the Forward's profile of Michael Sfard here.
Alpher discusses what the significance is of PM Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to hold elections in early September, and of the move to disband the outgoing Knesset immediately, what are the chances that the parties of the center-left could displace Netanyahu or force the Likud into a more moderate coalition, whether  the prospect of elections rules out a preventive Israeli attack on Iran in the coming months and what are the ramifications for Egyptian-Israeli peace and for Israel's energy economy of Egypt cancelling its commercial contract to deliver natural gas to Israel.

Bringing Israel's Peace Camp Together

Yariv186x140.jpgIsrael's Peace Now movement is sponsoring a conference that will bring together next week Israel's progressive forces - politicians, activists, pundits and simple citizens - to discuss the Peace Camp's agenda going ahead.  Peace Now's Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer discusses the conference and the political environment in Israel.

There is so much going on right now...

  • NewsNosh320x265.jpgDrafting the Orthodox
  • Settlement News
  • Who says what about Iran today?
  • Israeli Election Updates:
     -New Parties
     -Livni Resigns
     -Polling Data

  • And everything else that's hot in the Middle East right now:
The best way to keep up is to read News Nosh and sign up for free email updates daily!

readinghamas186x140.jpgThe Forward's interview with Mousa Abu Marzook highlights some fundamental truths about peacemaking: You make peace with your enemies, not your friends; you make peace not to be nice, but because it is in your self-interest; real peace must reflect a balance of interests, not an imbalance of power, and security arrangements, not trust, will be the foundation of any peace treaty.

YNet: Moving closer to one state

Hourglasses don't tick. They make no sound, unless you bring them up to your ear and focus on the grains of sand that fall down slowly. The hourglass has no mechanism, only gravity. Nature works by itself.

Hourglasses don't tick, and therefore they do not disturb those who wish to let time do its thing, quietly. Nonetheless, they have a drawback: At one point in time, the sand runs out. Suddenly everything stops and the hourglass must be turned upside down to keep functioning.

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