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Blog: October 2009 Archives

Settlements Panel from J Street

I had the honor of moderating a fantastic panel that kicked off the first day of discussions at J Street's conference last Monday. It was an honor to moderate the panel, which Americans for Peace Now sponsored and organized, because the participants were leading authorities on the settlement enterprise and on settlement politics.

Advice to President Obama

In this video, my colleague Lara Friedman discusses the challenges and opportunities President Barack Obama faces in pursuing peace for Israel.

APN on H. Res. 867 (the Goldstone Resolution)

Today APN issued the following statement regarding H. Res. 867, the resolution introduced in the House of Representatives "Calling on the President and Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the 'Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora:"

Haaretz Editorial: Pursue Peace with Syria

Today's editorial in Israel's Haaretz makes some important points regarding the dormant Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. Worth reading:

A Lesson from the Rabin Assassination

Rabin with flag 320x265.jpgAmerican baby-boomers will always remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Israelis, who today are marking the 14th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, will always remember where they were when Rabin was murdered by an Israeli religious-nationalist Jew, determined to undermine the peace efforts of Rabin's government.

Jo-Ann Mort in TPM Cafe: Whose Israel is It?

For those who have not yet read it on TPM Cafe, here is a thought provoking blog posting by our Boar member, Jo-Ann Mort:

Whose Israel is It?

By Jo-Ann Mort - October 25, 2009,

I have spent the day in Washington, first at the Americans for Peace Now board meeting, where I am an officer, and later at the J Street conference, where I am a participant. I go to sleep tonight with this sentiment dancing on my brain: the promise of Israel needs to be embraced and supported, promoted and defended--fought for. That is not the case presently in much of American political discourse.

Yes Mr. Ben-David, Arab Americans can work for peace.

Last week I blogged about Lenny Ben-David's outrageous personal attack on my friend Rebecca Abou-Chedid for committing an SPWBA - the terrible crime of supporting-peace-while-being-Arab.  But I should have known Rebecca does not need other people to defend her - she can explain herself eloquently, and has done so in a moving and courageous piece in Foreign Policy -- a piece in which her integrity and commitment shine through in every word.  And in doing so, with grace and respect, Rebecca shines an even brighter spotlight on the hateful pettiness of Ben-David and his ilk.  Way to go and Kol HaKavod, Rebecca!

Abbas Calls for New Elections -- A Look at the Polls

abbasvote3.jpgPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas set January 24, 2010 as the date for new elections for both the presidency and the legislature of the Palestinian Authority.

Monday's Middle East Peace Report took a look at recent polls of the Palestinian public.

Stopping the Brutalization of Israeli society

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has innumerable costs. One of them is the psychological stress on Israeli society, which is gradually becoming more violent and more brutal.

Lenny Ben-David Plays the Race Card

Walking to work this morning I read Lenny Ben-David's anti-J Street rant on my blackberry (emailed to me on one of my right-wing listservs).  Given the author, I was not really surprised at anything I read -- disgusted, irritated, amused, but not surprised -- until I got to the paragraph attacking, by name, a dear friend of mine and a dear friend of the entire cause of Middle East peace:  the amazing, dynamic, universally liked and respected Rebecca Abou-Chedid.

And what does Ben-David attack Rebecca for?  Being of Arab descent and working for organizations that explicitly, publicly support Israeli-Palestinian peace and the two-state solution.  Outrageous. Intolerable.  I spent a good part of the day fuming.  And then I read Spencer Ackerman's response, and I felt a lot better.  I recommend it to all. 

Peace is the Answer to Israel's Increasing Isolation

Israel's deputy prime minister, Dan Meridor, spoke over the weekend in Washington about what he sees as the three chief foreign policy challenges that Israel faces today: Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Goldstone report.

What Arabs Think; What Arabs Do

Over the weekend, a handful of participants at the annual conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy were treated to a sneak peek of a new, large study of Arab behavior vis-à-vis the United States.
This excellent editorial speaks for itself...

Ha'aretz: "
Hilltop Double-talk"

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to battle the Goldstone report in the name of Israel's right to self-defense, and his envoys and the U.S. administration discuss terms for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians, his government is developing infrastructure in dozens of West Bank settlements. 

Winds of War at WINEP Panel on Iran

The second day of discussions at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's annual conference ended with winds of war.

There was disturbing unanimity on the opening panel of the annual conference of Washington's leading Mideast think tank Friday. The Obama administration's policy in the region is failing, all three panelists concurred.

America woke up today to a pleasant surprise: President Barack Obama is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.


I rushed the following quote to the news wires: "President Obama deserves recognition and praise for making Middle East peace a top U.S. foreign policy priority from his first moments in the Oval Office. We hope that winning the prestigious prize will further energize the President and his aides to push for peace between Israel and her neighbors."


JTA, the Jewish news service, noted that "The first pro-Israel group to praise Obama was Americans for Peace Now."


APN is on the record - in detail - explaining our concerns over proposed "crippling" sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's access to refined petroleum products (the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act - IRPSA).  Now the Obama Administration is much more clearly on the record on this issue, too, with Obama officials testifying 10/6/09 before the Senate Banking Committee over the issue of Iran and possible new sanctions (video of the hearing here; NIAC has posted broader analysis of the hearing here). 

And what Obama officials were saying about the sanctions -- including alluding to concerns that they would harm civilians rather than the government and could thus be counterproductive, and emphasizing the need for multilateral, rather than unilateral, action -- would seem to indicate that they share many of our concerns about this particular sanctions initiative. 

Key excerpts from the hearing are copied here:

Clear and Present Danger in Jerusalem

Special analysis from Daniel Seidemann (Ir Amim) and Lara Friedman (Americans for Peace Now)

The recent violence on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif is only the latest indication of the rising level of tension in Jerusalem - tension that has been steadily increasing for months. The potential for a highly disruptive, violent conflagration in Jerusalem is more likely now than at any point since the visit of then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in September 2000, triggering the worst wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence since 1967. Indeed, as the world is coming to recognize, the current mix of destabilizing factors at play is hauntingly familiar - resembling the period that led to the outbreak of the second Intifada.

Today's Talks with Iran: A Constructive Beginning

President Obama just made an important statement about the today's beginning of negotiations with Iran.

As I see it, President Obama's commitment to serious and meaningful engagement with Iran - including potential incentives for nuclear transparency - offers Teheran an opportunity that it did not have under the Bush administration for de-escalating its standoff with the international community.

Obama's statement regarding a constructive beginning of the talks with Iran should further prompt American friends of Israel to support the President's responsible strategy.

That's my view. I welcome your reactions.