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July 2012 Archives

Hagit_Rabin_Rally_Collage186x140.jpgInstead of tax hikes - stop indulging the settlements

Washington, DC -- APN today condemned some of the comments delivered by GOP presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday in Jerusalem.  APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:

"It is deeply troubling that Governor Romney, his advisors, and some of his key supporters are seeking to exploit Israel as a partisan issue to score political points in this election campaign.  This is a reckless and irresponsible tactic that comes at the expense of the best interests of both the U.S. and Israel.  

Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher discusses whether the Romney visit to Israel is significant for US-Israeli relations, the return of the controversy over a possible Israeli attack on Iran prior to US elections, whether the flourishing relations between Gaza-based Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood are really inspiring thoughts of declaring that Gaza is an autonomous Palestinian state and how this could affect Israel's interests.

calcalist186x140.jpgOn July 30th, the Calcalist published a major report [Hebrew] examining the issue of Israeli government spending on settlements.   Among other things, the articles note that government spending on settlements increased by 38% under the Netanyahu government (from 2010 to 2011).  The articles also note the fact that Israeli government spending on settlements from 1992-2011 totaled NIS 27 billion (in 2011 terms).  To get a sense of the magnitude of this spending, the article notes that in 2010 the Israeli government allocated a budget of NIS 27.5 bilion over ten years "for the first stage of project to introduce into [the entire country of] Israel a network of fast highways and railway lines."  All articles translated by Israel News Today (INT).

Legislative Round-Up: week ending July 27, 2012

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

PLO letter to Chabot

dani-dayan_op-ed186x140.jpgToday's New York Times features an op-ed by Dani Dayan, the head of the Yesha Council (the group that represents settlers and their interests). There isn't really any news here: it shouldn't surprise anyone that the settlers want the world to believe that settlements are good, peace efforts are pointless, and that the way forward should be premised on leaving all settlements in place, and leaving the West Bank under Israeli control, in perpetuity. Nonetheless, it is worth examining some representative snippets from this high profile op-ed.

read more at the Daily Beast's Open Zion

APN's Lara Friedman at Hollings Center's dialogue in Istanbul

Lara & Dalia186x140.jpg

APN's Lara Friedman recently returned from Istanbul, where she participated in a Hollings Center's dialogue on Foreign Policy and Competing Mediation in the Middle East and Central Asia. 

Tisha B'Av

Arch_of_Titus.jpgTisha B'Av (the 9th of Av), which is observed beginning the evening of July 28th this year, is a fast day commemorating the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.  It is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

(Pictured: Arch of Titus in Rome depicts Roman soldiers carrying the Menorah away from the Second Temple in the year 70)

Book Review: The Arab Uprising by Marc Lynch

This is the third 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 Marc Lynch's book about the so-called "Arab Spring". Following is Gail's review. 

Marc Lynch, The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the Middle East (New York: Public Affairs, 2012). 209 pages. $26.99

The Arab Uprising.jpg
This exceptionally cogent discussion provides even the most ignorant of readers a thoroughly comprehensible overview of the historical and contemporary forces that shaped the popular uprisings in the Middle East, and their implications for the region and American policy.

More a survey than a deep analysis, the author's grasp of a formidable a range of variables--from those operating in Egypt or Libya, to those in Tunisia or Bahrain--speaks to his certain knowledge of the region, as well as to his ear for the voices of the "Arab Street."

His stated goal, to provide a "pragmatic but theoretically informed framework" for understanding the uprisings that have convulsed the Arab Middle East inevitably leads, however, to a somewhat repetitious invocation of causes, which comes dangerously close to reductivism.

mofaz-netanahu-split320x265.jpgAlpher discusses Kadima's political prospects, the link between Burgas and the Assad regime, what a post-Assad Syria's challenges for Israel, and the misdirected recognition of the college in Ariel.

Legislative Round-Up: week ending July 20, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  CUFI on the Hill
3.  Bachmann finds/crosses a red line?
4.  Hearings
5. Members on the Record  
6.  From the Press

An in-depth analysis was done by "Calculist", Yedioth Achronoth's Economic Supplement, and includes three articles:

Settlers Receive 70% More Relative to their Size in the General Israeli Population"

Residents of Hebron Hills Receive Five Times More than Ramle

All the Way from the Public's Pocket to Judea and Samaria

Bulgaria_Bus_Bombing_Collage186x140.jpgWashington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the bombing in Bulgaria today, which targeted Israeli tourists and killed seven innocent civilians.

APN extends its condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and extends its wishes for a full recovery to those who were injured. APN stands with the people of Israel.

Alpher186x140.jpgAlpher discusses the significance of the Levy committee report, the fate of Olmert in politics, and the possibility of a near-term Israeli military strike against Iran.

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran targeted once again

hagit_death_threat_7-16-12-186x140.jpgPeace Now's Hagit Ofran woke up today to another death threat. Again, someone sprayed graffiti on her home in Jerusalem, saying: "Hagit you are dead." This is the third time in less than a year that hateful, threatening slogans are spray-painted at the home of Hagit, who directs Peace Now's Settlement Watch project.



You shall not cut them down


It happens all the time. More than 10,000 Palestinian olive trees have been uprooted or vandalized in the West Bank in the past decade. No one is ever arrested.

for_shame186x140.jpg"It's not about shame. It's about mutual responsibility... Segal says that American Jews are not obligated to call out injustice wherever they see it. But do the sages agree? The above passage suggests that Jews are obligated to rebuke, especially other Jews, whenever they see evil done, regardless of who is doing it."

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran on the Levy Report

Hagit Ofran 186x140.jpgOn July 12, Hagit Ofran of Israel's Peace Now movement briefed APN on the significance and potential repercussions of the Levy report. Levy Report Briefing Call

Back Room Analysis on the Levy Report

Levy_Netanyahu_Collage_Library186x140.jpgThe Levy Report has generated an astonishing number of responses.  Having trouble keeping abreast of all the important details? APN is your one-stop resource for information and analysis.

We will update as new items become available. Check back periodically and see what's fresh!

Upon Reflection

Presbyterian_Church_Assembly_Graphic186.jpgIn the past few days, I've had the opportunity to reflect upon APN's statement calling on the American Presbyterian Church (PC-USA) to vote against divestment and in favor of boycotting products made in Israeli West Bank settlements, a position the Church ultimately adopted.

Let me say, unequivocally, that PC-USA was sincere and serious in approaching this issue at a time when we are all frustrated and pained by the ongoing impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Decaffinating the occupation?

Boaz Okon, a former Israeli Magistrate and District Court judge and currently the legal commentator of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, today published an important analysis of the Levy Committee report. The report, Okon writes, is more likely to impact the political and public discourse on settlements than the realm of Israeli jurisprudence. But on an issue that is influenced more by politicians than it is by the Court, such influence is very important too.

Here is Okon's article, as translated by Israel News Today:

Free Territories with Occupied Residents

By Boaz Okon

Yedioth Ahronoth, 11 July, 2012

Judge Edmond Levi's report about legalizing the outposts will not be able to legalize Israel's actions in the territories. The demand for the freedom of millions of Palestinians cannot be stopped by legal reports. In the end, the report will be shelved and its central contribution will be an increase in the cynicism and suspicion toward judges. In this respect it supplies us with an opportunity to recognize the limitations of our legal system.

Is it 1984? Tell Israel: Reject the Levy Report!


Is it 1984?

It seems to be. George Orwell gave us, in his book by that name, the term "Doublethink," in which "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength." The Levy Committee - an Israeli government Committee- with a straight face expects us to believe that occupation can be erased simply by defining it out of existence. But no one does believe it.

Reject Doublethink! Tell Ambassador Oren that Israel's future rests on rejecting the Levy Committee report.

Americans for Peace Now Intern featured in Times of Israel


Late last week the Times of Israel showcased an inspiring program that Americans for Peace Now and the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) have been jointly sponsoring for the third year running.

Despite the depressing news from the region, we at APN are not losing hope and are working every day to build a better future for Israel - a future of peace with her neighbors, a future free of the occupation, and a future based on two states for two peoples. We are making a difference, particularly with young people. Our joint program with ATFP attracts tremendous interest. Two years ago, the Washington Post featured it in a prominent article. The program serves to further demonstrate that Israelis and Palestinians - and their friends overseas - have a solid political agenda: A solution of peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians, each people in its own independent state.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Levy Report

We have been asked for an English translation of the Levy Report regarding West Bank settlements and illegal outposts. 

A full translation is not available yet, but the Conclusions and Recommendations portion of it is available here.

News Nosh 7.10.12

APN's daily news review from Israel

Tuesday July 10, 2012


Quote of the day:

"How can this report, which is supposed to reflect the current situation, fail to represent the situation that has been upheld by the High Court of Justice for the past 45 years?"
--Adv. Talia Sasson, who prepared the 2005 report on settlements, reacts to Judge Edmund Levy's 2012 report that says Israel is not an occupier and outposts are legal.**


Levy_Netanyahu_Collage2.jpgWashington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today joined its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in calling on the government of Israel to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank. APN calls on other US Jewish groups that support the two-state solution to raise their voices in opposition to this report.

(Pictured: Committee Chairman Levy presents report to Prime Minister Netanyahu superimposed over APN's Settlement Map)

Alpher186x140.jpg Alpher discusses how the issue of universal national service in Israel has come to dominate the political scene, Mofaz and the peace process, and  what happened to the Palestinian demand for an Israeli commitment to the 1967 lines and a genuine settlement freeze.
"...most people would assume that ignoring and defending the abuse of children would be a bridge too far, even for the staunchest partisan of the "Israel, right or wrong" approach. The silence of our community shows that such an assumption would be wrong."

Read the full article here.
APN_AFTP_Interns186x140.jpgA former IDF medical officer and a Palestinian from a refugee camp are seeing the conflict in a whole new way this summer.

WASHINGTON -- When Waleed Issa walked into the Americans for Peace Now (APN) Washington, DC office on the first day of his summer internship in June, the 25-year-old Palestinian from the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem was startled by what he saw.

Presbyterian_Church_Assembly_Graphic2.jpgWashington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) urges the plenary of the Presbyterian Church (USA) not to adopt the resolution approved yesterday by its Middle East and Peacemaking Issues Committee (Committee 15) to divest from companies, over Israel's use of their products in ways that allegedly violate Palestinian human rights.

This past weekend, I spent two and a half days at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum participating in its "What You Do Matters" Student Leadership Summit.  The tagline of the event was "how to create environments where hate cannot flourish" and the focus of all programming was propaganda, hate speech, and civic engagement. The theme was tailored around the museum's current exhibition- State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.  The summit drew students from 5 countries and 26 states, and represented a diverse spectrum of ideas.

APN Mourns the Passing of Yitzhak Shamir


Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins the people of Israel in mourning the death of Yitzhak Shamir, Israel's seventh prime minister, who died Saturday at the age of 96.

APN's president and CEO Debra DeLee said: "Prime Minister Shamir was a patriot who cared deeply about his country's security and wellbeing. We did not agree with his hardline policies on peace with the Palestinians and with Israel's neighboring Arab states, but we recognized Mr. Shamir's dedication to his country and his people and his deep sense of responsibility for Israel's security. We send our deepest condolences to the Shamir family and to the people of Israel."



Alpher_Letter186x140.jpgAlpher discusses the situation in Syria, including Saturday's Geneva meeting of UN and Arab League "Action Group," how Israel fits into that situation, and the legacy of Yitzhak Shamir.