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Blog: October 2010 Archives

Moderates in Miami

When it comes to radical discourse on Middle East policy, American university campuses are a fertile breeding ground. Zealots from both sides typically dominate the discourse.

But it is not unusual for moderate pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students to coalesce in constructive dialogue or to co-sponsor events on campus. In fact, as much as you find vociferous divisive, conflict-ridden discourse on American university campuses, you find constructive dialogue between young people who are trying to make sense and to infuse some sense into the discussion of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Earlier this week, I spoke at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, together with Ghaith al-Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine. Ghaith and I often talk to students to underscore the notion that relations between Israelis and Palestinians should not be - and are not - a zero-sum game, and that a two-state peace deal between Israel and a future Palestinian state is a win-win for all.
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We found a lovely group of Jewish and Arab students, who for several years have been meeting regularly, exploring each other's national, cultural and religious narratives, and finding common ground.

We are proud to be playing a role in the creation of a new, moderate, peace-seeking discourse on the Middle East on American campuses. 

Both Israelis and Palestinians want peace; both deserve it

The absurd argument that "the Palestinians" don't want peace and don't even need it is gradually infiltrating into the collective narrative of the Israeli status-quo camp and its supporters in the United States. Last week, columnist Stephen Kramer, who publishes a weekly Israel column in the New Jersey Jewish Times, contended that "the Palestinians don't want or need peace."

This week, APN publishes a rebuttal to Kramer's rant. Here it is:

We need more NPR, not less

radio.jpgThe crisis in the media industry has been most acutely felt in the decline of international coverage. Major newspapers and TV networks have closed foreign bureaus, major news media are relying solely on wire reports for international coverage, and airtime devoted to global affairs has declined significantly. Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, with two wars that the US is fighting overseas, America's news organizations have diminished rather than enhanced their international reporting infrastructure.

Kahane Supporters Celebrate the Triumph of Kahane's Ideas

This week Israeli/Jewish right-wing racism was on full, unapologetic display in Israel, as extremists (not all necessarily Israeli) gathered first in Jerusalem (Tuesday) and then held a deliberately provocative march through the Arab town of Umm al Fahm (Wednesday) - all to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of the 20th century's most influential Jewish extremist, Rabbi Meir Kahane. 

They also celebrated, triumphantly, their belief in the growing popularity and influence of Kahane's world-view in Israel.   Commenting on the event, longtime Kahane supporter and former Kach spokesman  Baruch Marzel (born in the US) said: "You can see a true awakening to Rav Kahane, because every year it's growing, every year more and more people are joining us."

At a time when Israel's democracy is being challenged by a (link has expired) stream of undemocratic legislative initiatives - from efforts to require loyalty oaths, to efforts to undermine progressive non-governmental organizations, to efforts to legalize discrimination in housing - the Kahanists' celebrations should give anyone who cares about Israel's democracy reason to worry.

Watch David Grossman on the Charlie Rose Show

One of the clearest Israeli voices in support of peace is also one of the most tragic - and optimistic. David Grossman, a literary giant, voices and personally embodies both the tragedy and the hope. He does it brilliantly in his new novel, To the End of the Land, which he is now promoting on a US tour. If you haven't had a chance to see Grossman at your JCC or synagogue - and even if you have - you should watch his interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, here. A longtime activist with Israel's Peace Now movement, Grossman talks not just about his book and about the power of literature, but also about the Israeli psyche and the importance of peace for Israel future. I found this interview deeply moving. What do you think? 
The Derailer
Yedioth Ahronoth 10/12/10 (p. 3)
by Shimon Shiffer
(Translation by Israel News Today)

I have a question for President Shimon Peres, who attended the opening meeting of the Knesset's winter session and listened to Netanyahu's speech with closed eyes: Mr. Peres, when you signed the declaration of principles with Abu Mazen on the White House lawn in the autumn of 1993, why didn't you demand of him, your partner to the secret negotiations in Oslo, to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people?

Wanted: Conspiracy Theories

While Israelis and their friends abroad are preparing commemorative events to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's 1995 assassination, the settlers' chief news site, Arutz Sheva (Channel 7) has come up with its own way of commemorating Rabin. The right wing site is launching a bizarre contest of conspiracy theories regarding the assassination. Readers are urged to send in their wildest theories about who is responsible for Rabin's murder. Arutz Sheva promises to publish the "most interesting" theories.

Parsing Today's Cynical "Offer" by Bibi for a Settlement Moratorium

The news broke earlier today that Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to re-impose the moratorium on new settlement starts in exchange for Palestinian official recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Why isn't this the kind of offer that the Palestinians would jump at, assuming they actually want peace?  For some very good reasons, that's why.

APN & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been posting on the APN website over the past few days, nor have I been sending out links via Twitter.  The reason is that I have been busy with another cause that is close to my heart: the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.  One of my best friends in the world - a vibrant young woman - is fighting this terrible disease.  She and the millions of other women around the world fighting breast cancer - wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, partners and friends - know that this disease doesn't care about religion, race, borders, or nationality. 

I am proud and honored to have joined with more than 2000 other people this past weekend (Oct 8-10) to walk 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen walk to raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer (and yes, I walked every inch of it - and have the blisters to prove it!). 

I am grateful that my colleagues at APN supported me in my effort and that APN generously let me take off October 8th to participate.  It was an incredible, empowering experience that I will treasure and, when my feet heal, I look forward to doing again.  

AUDIO: What's happening with the settlements?

Americans for Peace Now held a briefing call yesterday (Tuesday, Oct. 5th) to report on developments on the ground since the settlement moratorium ended last week.

The call was led by APN's Policy and Government Relations Director Lara Friedman. It featured Jerusalem attorney Danny Seidemann and Peace Now Settlement Watch chief Hagit Ofran. Nobody watches what takes place in the settlements more closely than these two.

While much of the media attention has (for good reason) been focused on the American effort to renew negotiations, Danny and Hagit have been carefully watching the situation on the ground.

Click here to listen to the conversation.