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Blog: November 2009 Archives

Analysis of the Settlement Moratorium

Key facts about the settlement moratorium:

Having listened carefully to the comments made today by Prime Minister (link has expired) Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Envoy George Mitchell, it's clear that Israel committed to stop:
  • New construction starts (including both government and privately-initiated projects), and related infrastructure.
  • Approving future settlement construction.
  • Construction of public buildings (e.g. schools), except for a small number of such buildings.

What to Make of the Settlement Moratorium?

The Israeli government announced on November 25 that it was beginning a 10-month moratorium on new construction in West Bank settlements.

Internships at Americans for Peace Now

Americans for Peace Now is seeking interns to assist in our Washington, DC office for the Spring 2010 semester.

Leave No Stone Unturned

Small Text in Picture: "Construction in the settlement of Kiryat Arba (Hebron), October 2009"

The Israeli Peace Now movement today published an ad in the print edition of the Haaretz newspaper taking to task Israeli Defense Minister for his failure to stop settlement construction despite his pro-peace rhetoric.

Settler Rabbis' Guide to Killing Non-Jews (full original Maariv article)

In the wake of the arrest of an American-Israeli settler for murdering Palestinians (and other acts of violence, for which the accused insists that "God is proud of my actions") last week the JTA included a short story about a new book published by a West Bank settler rabbi entitled "The King's Torah."  The book offers far-reaching guidance on when and under what circumstances it is permissable for Jews to kill non-Jews (including children). Haaretz also published its own very short item on the story.  These two English-language stories fail to capture the full story in all its horror -- for that you need the Israeli Hebrew-language press.  So here is the original story from Maariv (translation by Israel News Today).

A Short History of Israeli Right Wing Terrorism

YaakovTeitel 186x140.jpg

Yaakov (Jack) Teitel (pictured in Israeli custody) is not the first and probably not the last Israeli terrorist to target Palestinians or Israeli supporters of peace. Furthermore, many of these Jewish terrorists came from the ranks of the West Bank settlers. Read on for a partial list of Israeli groups and individuals who took violent action to sabotage peace.

The press almost unanimously reported, and pundits almost unanimously agreed, that the Secretary of State's comments in Jerusalem meant that the Obama Administration had retreated on its position that a full settlement freeze was a precondition for negotiations.  This in turn established the now dominant narrative that the Obama Administration's peace effort is an abject failure, that Obama and Mitchell have been bested by Netanyahu, and that the US has caved on settlements.  

The problem is that the premise of this narrative - that the US had demanded a total freeze as a precondition for negotiations - is incorrect.  Neither Obama nor any Obama Administration official ever stated that a full settlement freeze was a precondition for negotiations.  One can debate whether they should have done so, or whether they should have done a better job making clear what the policy was or managing expectations, but it is simply inaccurate to state that this was the Administration's policy.

It should surprise no one that the media and pundits prefer to view Middle East peace effort through a lens of controversy.  Reporting that Mitchell took another trip and held more closed-door meetings is not interesting.  Saying that Clinton went to Jerusalem and nothing happened is not news.  (Likewise, the definition of "unprecedented" is not especially newsworthy.  For the record, the word means "having no previous example" - not, as some seem to think, "laudable," "fantastic," "satisfying our demands" or "consistent with US policy.")

Tom Friedman: so wrong (and so glib)

I read Tom Friedman's piece in yesterday's New York Times and I had to smile.   

Why?  Because Friedman (no relation) has become so predictable in his analysis that I actually had already written my response.  

And then I smiled again, because I realized that if you take the piece at face value, Friedman is calling for US punitive action against Israel - cutting off of all aid - that has never been seriously considered and would never be taken.  Or if that is not what he means, then he has been tripped up by his own excessively glib analysis.  My guess is that it is the latter.   

Obama's Rabin Tribute

President Barack Obama delivered a video greeting to the Rabin memorial rally held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Excuse me, your bias is showing...

I subscribe to Aaron Lerner's email list. It's a great way to get a sense of what Israeli right-wingers are thinking and reading. His emails give the impression of objectivity, but every so often his ideological bias glares through.

Honoring Kahane?

When Israeli extremists want to advertise a ceremony to honor the founder of a Jewish terrorist group, it is Peace Now that stops them.

Standing up for Jerusalem

Boy Yelling Sheik Jarrah 320x265.jpgThe settler take-over of a home in the midst of a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Tuesday did not go unanswered. Last night the Israeli Peace Now movement mobilized over a hundred demonstrators to protest at the site.

Barak is feeling Peace Now's pressure

MK Settlement Tour 186x140.jpgPeace Now is generating pressure on Israel's government to make real progress towards peace. That pressure is clearly being felt by Labor leader Ehud Barak, who is slowly losing control of his party.

(MK Daniel Ben-Simon, pictured in the middle, resigned as Labor Party Whip in protest shortly after participating in this Peace Now settlements tour)

A friend who reports for a major media organization in the U.S. recently lamented the demands he routinely receives from his editors for instant analysis. "I told an editor that it's too early to tell what my breaking news story meant. He replied that this should not deter me from providing an instant analysis anyway," the reporter said.