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December 2012 Archives

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Alpher discusses why Israel's two largest parties, Likud Beitenu and Labor, are both dropping in pre-election opinion polls, whether the High Court's allowing Balad candidate Hanin Zoabi to run in the elections was a victory for enlightenment and pluralism in Israel, and if there are differences in approach among the three electorally-significant Arab parties.

The Reason Behind the Settlement Surge

wall-settlements186x140.jpgAs anyone who pays attention to the news cannot help but be aware, in recent weeks the Netanyahu government has opened the settlement floodgates, approving massive settlement expansion, especially in and around East Jerusalem. The most recent of these approvals was announced this week - the approval of more than 1000 new units in a new settlement neighborhood known as Mordot Gilo. Also this week, in a step toward normalizing settlements as part of Israel, the Israeli government decided to formally recognize a college in the settlement of Ariel as a fully-accredited Israeli university.

In case you haven't heard, President Barack Obama is considering appointing Chuck Hagel, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska and a Purple Heart winner, as the next secretary of defense -- and this has triggered a minifirefight among Hagel critics and supporters. I am a Hagel supporter. I think he would make a fine secretary of defense -- precisely because some of his views are not "mainstream." I find the opposition to him falling into two baskets: the disgusting and the philosophical. It is vital to look at both to appreciate why Hagel would be a good fit for Defense at this time.

The disgusting is the fact that because Hagel once described the Israel lobby as the "Jewish lobby" (it also contains some Christians). And because he has rather bluntly stated that his job as a U.S. senator was not to take orders from the Israel lobby but to advance U.S. interests, he is smeared as an Israel-hater at best and an anti-Semite at worst. If ever Israel needed a U.S. defense secretary who was committed to Israel's survival, as Hagel has repeatedly stated -- but who was convinced that ensuring that survival didn't mean having America go along with Israel's lunatic, self-destructive drift into settling the West Bank and obviating a two-state solution -- it is now.


A breakdown of the myriad of settlement plans being aggressively pursued in recent weeks.

By Hagit Ofran and Lior Amihai

The past few weeks may have been confusing for those who try to keep track of Israeli settlement activity. So many plans and approvals, some of which are lethal for the two-state solution, make it clear that the Netanyahu government has decided to push forward as many plans as possible in order to determine facts on the ground before the elections in Israel, as long as there is no "threat" of any renewal of the peace process.

Obama-Kerry186x140.jpgAPN welcomes President Obama's decision to nominate Senator John Kerry as the next Secretary of State of the United States. We know Senator Kerry well from his years as a leader of U.S. foreign policy in the Senate. Throughout his time in office, Senator Kerry has demonstrated extraordinary courage and leadership in the foreign policy arena. He has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the complex foreign policy challenges facing the United States in the Middle East and around the world, and a profound appreciation of and respect for the vital role that U.S. diplomacy can and must play in addressing these challenges. He is clearly an eminently qualified candidate for the position of Secretary of State.

YNet: My friend, my enemy


Op-ed: Nabil Shaath remembers Lipkin-Shahak, who told him: 'It's time to stop the killing'

by Nabil Shaath

Some of you are surely wondering why a Palestinian would eulogize an Israeli general. The answer is simple: Amnon Lipkin-Shahak was my partner in peace and remained committed to the cause until the day he died.

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Alpher discusses the current state of the Arab revolutions; how Syria is moving in a different direction from Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen; what, if anything, would Alpher have Israel do in Arab revolutions; how should Israel address Palestinians fleeing the violence in Syria, especially in the context of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offering last week to absorb them

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to accelerate plans for settlement construction in a sensitive area known as E-1, as well as elsewhere around Jerusalem, is a potentially damaging move for Israel, for Palestinians, and for the United States. The plans were announced in the wake of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's successful bid for observer status at the United Nations. Previously, Israelis have justified building settlements on land the country has occupied since the 1967 war with arguments about the need for a security buffer between hostile states, and for more housing. But the E-1 announcement suggests that settlements can serve a political purpose, as well -- as a tool to punish Palestinians, and as a way to ensure Israel will never have to share Jerusalem with a future Palestinian state.

APN Legislative Round-Up: December 12-21, 2012

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Members on the Record
3. Hagel on the Record on the Middle East


APN statement 12/18: APN Rejects Attacks on Sen. Hagel
At the Daily Beast's Open Zion 12/17: Disingenuous Defenses of Netanyahu's Settlement Plans
At the Daily Beast's Open Zion 12/17: Top Ten Issues the ADL Ignored

Hagel on the Record on the Middle East

This week saw ugly and deeply dishonest attacks launched against former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), in the context of his name being floated as the possible nominee for the next Secretary of Defense. APN's position on Hagel and rejecting these attacks is available here.

For the sake of those who are not familiar with Hagel's real record on the issues (and are so far relying on reports that, when examined, prove inaccurate if not duplicitous), below is a compendium of major statements made by Hagel expressing his views on Israel and the Middle East and spanning his time in office.

Hagel on the Senate floor, 7/31/06: MIDDLE EAST--A REGION IN CRISIS

Hagel at the Council on Foreign Relations, 11/15/05: A Conversation with Senator Chuck Hagel on The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy

Hagel at the World Affairs Council speech, 5/20/03: "Next Steps in the Middle East"

Hagel in the Washington Post, 7/19/02: We Shouldn't Make Arafat the Issue

Hagel on the Senate floor, 6/14/02: PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Hagel on the Senate floor, 4/12/2002: THE MIDDLE EAST



APN's Director of Policy and Government Relations Lara Friedman took part in a panel discussion at the New America Foundation on the viability of Israeli-Palestinian peace. The discussion, sponsored by the Arab American Institute and the New America Foundation's Middle East Task Force, marked the launch of a new public opinion survey on what Palestinians and Israelis want in a peace deal and what their thoughts are about the prospects for achieving it.

Full video of the event is available here. Check out Lara's powerful defense of the two-state solution starting at 57:10.

Shalom TV covers the rabbinic letter (begins at 2:01), which was coordinated by Americans for Peace Now, J Street and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America in which more than five hundred US rabbis, cantors, rabbinical students and cantorial students express grave concern about Israel's plans to advance the construction of settlements in the controversial E1 area of the West Bank and authorize thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

APN Condemns Israeli Approval of New East Jerusalem Settlement

Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today condemned the Israeli government's approval this morning of plans for a new settlement in East Jerusalem, Givat Hamatos - the first new settlement to be established since Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his first term in office, defied the international community in the 1990s to establish Har Homa.

lipkin_shahak_colllage.jpgAmericans for Peace Now mourns the death of Lt. General (Res.) Amnon Lipkin Shahak, Israeli military's former Chief of Staff, a man who devoted his life to Israel's security and peace.

bedouin_camp186x140.jpgIn recent weeks it has been fascinating to watch defenders of the Netanyahu government and the settlement enterprise engaging in logical and rhetorical contortions to try to justify the Netanyahu government's pro-settlement policies. What has emerged is simultaneously the most disingenuous and in some ways the most honest discussion of settlements in years.

APN Rejects Attacks on Sen. Hagel


Americans for Peace Now today issued the following statement:

APN supports President Obama's right, as the president of the United States, to name members of his cabinet.  With respect to Senator Hagel, APN strongly rejects attacks on Senator Hagel's record on Israel and Middle East-related issues.  We know Senator Hagel well from his time in office.  In the Senate he was a thoughtful legislator with a deep commitment to U.S. national security and a keen understanding of the full gamut of complex foreign policy issues, including the vital importance of achieving durable Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Open Zion: APN's Lara Friedman - Top Ten Issues The ADL Ignored

yeshu_ben_zonah186x140.jpgThe ADL came out last week with its Top 10 list of "Issues Affecting Jews in 2012,"a list that conspicuously omits mention of many of the most troubling issues affecting Jews this past year. Below is a list of the most glaring omissions.

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Open letter to PM Netanyahu says controversial settlement expansion could be 'final blow to a peaceful solution'

Washington, DC - More than four hundred US rabbis, cantors, rabbinical students and cantorial students are expressing grave concern about Israel's plans to advance the construction of settlements in the controversial E1 area of the West Bank and authorizing thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

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Alpher discusses whether there is an Israeli perspective on the Sandy Hook massacre, the danger of a new intifada in the West Bank, how Arab leaders are responding to the prospect of a new intifada, how a new intifada might affect Israel's elections, the possible evolution of a Palestinian state by 2030, and how the indictment of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his subsequent resignation are likely to affect Likud Beitenu's election chances.

APN Legislative Round-Up: December 7-12, 2012

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. From the Press

Chanukah - Rededication towards Peace

Chanukah_Graphic186x1404.jpgThe holiday of Chanukah, which began this past Saturday night, is an eight-day festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE.

Rabbis: Speak out against E-1 Construction

Earlier this month the Israeli government announced plans to advance the construction of settlements in the E1 area of the West Bank, as well as to authorize the building of thousands of new settlement units in East Jerusalem.


Last week we alerted you to an anti-peace, anti-Palestinian letter in Congress, urging you to contact your Member of Congress and ask them not to sign on. That letter has now been held open for signatures through the end of this week - a development that means that your activism is working, and the letters' backers are having trouble getting large numbers of members to sign on.

If you already contacted your member of Congress on this issue, thank you! If you didn't, there is still time!

Yossi Alpher 186x140.jpgAlpher discusses what broad insights emerge about the state of politics in Israel can be derived from the submitted party lists for the January 22 elections,what Khaled Meshaal's first visit to the Gaza Strip signals about the direction Hamas is likely to adopt regarding both Israel and reconciliation with West Bank-based Fateh, and given Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's cancelling most elements of his unilateral assertion of emergency powers and consideration of postponing the constitutional referendum set for December 15, where is the revolution heading?

New House Letter Calling on Obama to Punish Palestinians

This morning, Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Berman (D-CA), Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY) began circulating a letter to be sent to President Obama.  The letter, which is circulating House-wide for cosponsors, calls on President Obama close the PLO office in Washington, to call the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem back to Washington for consultations, and to use "every means at our disposal to ensure that this General Assembly vote does not serve as a precedent for elevating the PLO in other UN bodies or international forums."   The letter notes that this includes "reaffirming our commitment to maintaining and enforcing U.S laws that require withholding U.S. contributions from any international forum that grants membership to the PLO.  The subject line of the email sent around seeking cosigners on the letter reads "Sign bipartisan, AIPAC-supported letter to the President calling for consequences for Palestinian leadership and UN for unilateral statehood scheme."

The full text of the letter is available here.

Is Bibi Deliberately Provoking the Palestinians and the ICC?

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The main objection from the Israeli government to a UN upgrade of the Palestinians' status focused, ostensibly, on the fear that it will open the door for legal action against Israel and Israelis in the International Criminal Court - something the ICC has rejected in the past.  However, the decisions and actions of the Israeli government in the wake of the UN vote give rise to the question: is the Netanyahu government deliberately trying to provoke the Palestinians to take a case to the ICC, and is he trying to deliberately provoke the ICC to take action? 

APN Legislative Round-Up: week ending December 7, 2012 (UPDATED)

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  NDAA Advances to House-Senate Conference
3.  Hearings
4.  Members on the Record 
5.  From the Press

What You Need to Know About E-1

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E-1 is back in the news, with a vengeance. In this document we provide all the information you need to know about this controversial settlement project, as well as answer questions you might have and refute the erroneous or deliberately misleading arguments that are being bandied about.

APN in Israel

Amb_Shapiro_w_APN_Chair_ Klutznick187x140.jpg Ambassador Daniel Shapiro meets with the members of the Americans for Peace Now Israel study tour. The tour has also visited Hebron and E-1, the hotly contested zone for which the Netanyahu government has expedited construction planning in retaliation to the Palestinian UN vote.

Open Zion: APN's Lara Friedman - How Obama Can Get Tough With Bibi


Recently, the European Union adopted harsh new Iran sanctions, strongly supported by Israel. Shortly thereafter, Israel announced new East Jerusalem settlement construction. The EU's top official Catherine Ashton, who was about to visit Israel, condemned the announcement in measured terms; Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, publicly told her, in effect, to shove it. Imagine if in response, Ashton had indefinitely postponed her trip. Imagine that Israeli ambassadors in EU capitals were summoned to the local foreign ministries and read the riot act. Imagine that Israeli press had been alerted, leading to headlines about how Prime Minister Netanyahu and Lieberman were squandering the friendship of the EU and European support on Iran for the sake of settlement expansion.


On December 3rd, 2012, NPR Morning Edition hosts David Greene and Renee Montagne interviewed Daniel Seidemann, on site in Israel with APN activists, on why E1 is not just another settlement.

NPR Morning Edition with Daniel Seidemann

Also, read the transcript at NPR's site here.


Last week, in a resounding vote of confidence for the two-state solution, the UN voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to that of "non-member observer state."

Jerusalem, Israel - On a tour to E-1, the corridor that extends between East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, Americans for Peace Now leaders on Sunday strongly condemned the government of Israel's intention to expedite settlement construction at this sensitive spot.

(Pictured: APN Study Tour Group in E-1 on Sunday, December 2, one day after the announcement of the Israeli Government)