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Blog: February 2010 Archives

Peace Now's "Masquerade Carnival" Demonstration in Tel Aviv

Video footage (with English subtitles) from Saturday's demonstration is now available.

Check it out:

Former Secretary of State James Baker was interviewed February 21st on CNN by Fareed Zakaria.  The full transcript is available here.  Some gems from the interview:

Baker on Obama's Iran policy thus far:  "I think it's too soon to say everything has failed. I don't -- I think you keep doing what you're doing. In other words, I think what you need to do is keep pushing for stronger sanctions and keep talking to or being ready to talk to the Iranian leadership, if they're willing to talk.  Those things -- and support the reformers in the streets. Those three things. They're not mutually exclusive. It's exactly what we did for 40 years with the Soviet Union.  We talked to them about nuclear -- we negotiated arms control agreements. We supported the dissidents in the Soviet Union. We worked hard on Soviet-Jewish emigres to get them the right to leave. We met with dissidents when we would go over there as -- as Secretary of State.  And so there's no reason why we can't do all three of those things and continue to do them."

The Silwan-ization of Sheikh Jarrah

Sheikh Jarrah has been in the news a lot lately - settlers taking over houses, weekly protests against the takeovers, harsh action by the police against the protesters, etc..  But it is becoming clear that the settler takeover of the homes in Sheikh Jarrah is just tip of the iceberg. 

Recent developments suggest that the settlers and their supporters are working to apply the tactics they have successfully used in the takeover of Silwan (and other areas of the Old City's historic basin) in Sheikh Jarrah.  This means expanding the settler presence and settler dominance over the area not just through the takeover of homes, but through seizing control of the public domain (for the benefit of the settlers).  It also means working to shift the Israeli (and international Jewish) public perception of the area in order to make this Palestinian neighborhood part of the so-called Jewish "consensus" -- an area viewed as being home to core Jewish religious and historic equities that must never be left under Palestinian control. 

What we are seeing here is the Silwan-ization of Sheikh Jarrah.

Peace Now to Bibi & Barak: Stop Pretending

On Saturday night hundreds of Peace Now activists will converge in Tel Aviv to make an important statement: Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak may talk a lot about peace, but - when it comes to actions - they are implementing an anti-peace agenda.

In recent days, Peace Now activists have been posting flyers about the demonstration all across Israel. Here is an English version of the flyer:


The Republican Jewish Coalition has had it with people criticizing Israel about Gaza. That is the gist of the RJC's latest partisan, grand-standing screed, published today in the Jerusalem Post, opposite an op-ed by myself and my J Street colleague Hadar Susskind.

As the RJC makes clear in the piece, it is especially frustrated with the 54 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama expressing concern about the humanitarian suffering in Gaza.  The RJC wants the world to know that everything -- yes, everything -- Israel does with respect to Gaza reflects bona fide Israeli security needs, and that any resulting suffering is 100% the fault of the Palestinians for making bad choices.  And the RJC is putting these members of Congress - and everyone else - on notice that suggesting otherwise is no less than anti-Israel calumny. (The RJC is so excited about taking on APN and J Street over the Gaza letter that today it sent out a fund-raising email highlighting the JPost articles.)

The RJC's logic is the latest example of the kind of tactics Hadar and I are talking about in our article: "No American - Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Democrat or Republican - who recognizes the security benefit to Israel in ending rather than enabling Hamas' monopoly over basic goods in Gaza, who sees that furthering a humanitarian crisis does not equate to fighting terrorism, and who cares for the future of children in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian, should let anyone use fear and smear tactics for their own partisan benefit."

And as Hadar and I point out: "There are real threats to Israel. There really are people out there who don't support Israel as a Jewish democratic homeland.  We don't need to invent opposition to Israel and we certainly don't need to push people who are supportive of Israel away from us by calling them 'anti-Israel' every time someone expresses either concern for Palestinians or opposition to a particular Israeli government position." 

Shame on the RJC for this further shameless partisan grandstanding at the expense of Israel.

To laugh or to cry?

I thought about it for a while. I came to the conclusion that it's not so funny.

On Tuesday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon essentially called J Street an organization of liars. Yesterday, the Israeli media reported that Ayalon intervened to prevent a Congressional delegation from meeting with representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and other senior governmental officials.

As a political analyst, I understand that Ayalon wants headlines that appeal to his hard-line constituency. Sooner or later he will have to face re-election and to fight off other politicos eager for his senior rank within his party's Knesset list. Headlines like this probably help his political career.

It's the Policy, Stupid!

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the absurdity of drafting Israeli tourists to become "hasbara (propaganda) ambassadors" for Israel.

Yesterday, Israel's Hasbara Ministry launched a new web site, in Hebrew, to supply the Israeli traveler with ammunition against defamers of Israel abroad.

As an Israeli, I find this site offensive.

Thou shall not steal

Squatter land 186x140.jpgActing on a Peace Now petition, Israel's Supreme Court demanded yesterday that the Israeli government submit a detailed timetable for razing 16 structures in two West Bank settlement outposts.

The structures were built in violation of Israeli law. Some of the land in these outposts is listed in Israeli-government documents as Palestinian-owned, private property. None of the land is owned by the squatters.

Policy and Propaganda

Israel's Ministry of Information (yes, there is such a thing - for the first time it is a full-fledged cabinet portfolio) recently commissioned a public opinion survey among Israeli Jews (yes, Jews only). Ninety-one percent, according to the poll, said that Israel has a "severe" or "very severe" image problem overseas. Eighty percent said that Israel is perceived as an "aggressive country" and 30 percent said that Israel is perceived as an "unfriendly country."

Help Israel deal with Gaza crisis

54 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama last week. The letter called on him to take action to address the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Peace and security for Israel are inextricably linked to the welfare of the Palestinian public.

This letter marks an important achievement. It demonstrates a substantial constituency in Washington that wants to see the president take action. Click here to read the full text of the Congressional letter.

APN, together with six other US-based Middle East peace organizations, today sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to ask Israel to lift its Gaza closure in order to remove a "serious obstacle to restoring hope and making peace" in the region.

Following is a the full text of the letter:

Words that hurt

Something is terribly wrong in the Jewish community when a prominent man, who has spent a lifetime shaping legal arguments of the highest caliber, resorts to hateful name-calling against a fellow Jew and a pillar of the international legal community.
That is what Alan Dershowitz did.

Israel held hostage

As Americans have learned from the Daily Show, sometimes satire can be the best way to take the political temperature of a country.

Last month, Eretz Nehederet -- a prime-time satire show broadcast by Israel Television Channel Two -- produced a series of skits about settlers holding Israel's defense forces hostage.

Peace Now and APN Condemn Attacks on NIF

Peace Now and APN very seldom issue joint statements. We took this unusual step today to react to the shocking attacks on the New Israel Fund. These attacks include newspaper and internet ads that resemble images from the darkest times in Jewish history.

The attack on NIF concerns all progressive Israelis and their supporters in the United States.

Here is the text of the press release.