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Blog: February 2011 Archives

Daniel Gordis Draws the Wrong Conclusions from Egypt

In his recent op-ed in the New York Times ("A Friendship of Values, Not Convenience") Daniel Gordis of Israel's right-wing Shalem Center makes an ostensibly compelling case for why the Obama administration should use the opening created by the Egyptian uprising to get into bed with Israel's hawkish government. 

However, what makes his case so "compelling" is its diversion from reality on almost every level.  The truth is that the U.S. should take advantage of this opportunity to push Israel and the Palestinians to a peace agreement. 

Yaakov Amidror - in his Own Words

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly decided to appoint an ultra-hawk, one of Israel's leading national-religious icons, as his new national security adviser.

If media reports are correct, Netanyahu's new pick for the important position is Major-General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who in the past advocated for reoccupying the Gaza Strip and staying there "for many years." Earlier this month, Amidror wrote that "negotiations with the Palestinians and even an agreement with the Palestinians (...) will not benefit Israel in any way as it faces the threats that might emerge in the future."

February 18, 2011                       

(202) 408-9898


Settlements Resolution Veto: Missed Opportunity for U.S. Leadership


Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today expressed disappointment at the Obama administration's veto of a UN Security Council resolution supporting the peace process and the two-state solution and condemning Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Reacting to the US veto, APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "President Barack Obama missed a key opportunity today to demonstrate U.S. leadership on peace. America's failure to hold both sides accountable for their actions is a contributing factor to the state of the peace process today. When America doesn't lead, developments take on a momentum of their own.


"We are dismayed that America, Israel, the Palestinians, and all stakeholders in Mideast peace have reached this painful and utterly avoidable moment. We would not be here today if Israel's Netanyahu government had stopped settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as the Obama Administration begged Israel to do. And we would not be here today if President Obama had matched his policy to his rhetoric during his first two years in office.


"What happened today is not just about an American veto of a resolution that is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy. The fact that the Palestinians went ahead and brought the resolution to a vote demonstrates the degree to which the Palestinians and the international community have lost faith in the peace process, and in U.S. leadership of that process.


"This should be a wake-up call to the administration. For the sake of Israel and for the sake of U.S. interests in the region and beyond, President Obama must take dramatic action to restore faith in the peace process and in America's leadership of that process. It is not too late for the Obama administration to show real leadership, to push both sides to negotiate peace in earnest, to show the parties that intransigence comes at a price, and to submit bridging proposals or even its own plan for a final settlement of the conflict.

Advocates of a U.S. veto of the pending UN Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements are using all kinds of arguments to support their case.  One of those arguments is that no U.S. president has ever failed to veto a UNSC resolution critical of Israel.  The facts say otherwise. 

Here is a table I pulled together (and yes, it took a long time - I care that much about the facts!) of all Israel-related UN Security Council resolutions from 1967 to the present (for viewing or downloading).  Enjoy.

(APN believes the President should not veto the pending resolution, should it come to a vote.  Our position is available here.  Our action alert on the issue is available here).

Power in numbers

DP2.jpgMy name is David Pine. I represent APN on the West Coast. Like you, I am dedicated to doing all I can to help Israel achieve peace with its neighbors, including a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

And like you, I have closely watched the news from Egypt. We've learned from the people of Egypt that numbers count.  President Mubarak, like a pharaoh with a hardened heart, refused to step down, but it became clear that he had no choice; the crowds were too large and too passionate.

Peace Now's American Intern

Last week in Tel Aviv, APN's Israel study tour group met with Peace Now's young activists. Among these impressive young organizers was Peace Now's American intern, Lauren Eisen, a student from Madison, Wisconsin. Lauren shared with me the story of her discovering Peace Now. Click to play the short video.

The LA Jewish Journal has just posted my new op-ed on what is happening in Egypt and its implications for Israel. 

February 15, 2011

Israel must get the monkey of occupation off its back

By Lara Friedman

Although the events that swept through Egypt in recent weeks had little to do with Israel, they still hold profound lessons for Israel.  The most important lesson is that Israel must break its addiction to occupation and settlements.

Last week (Feb 10th) I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion hosted by the Center for National Policy.  The event was titled, " Prospects for Democracy in the Middle East - Egypt and Beyond."  I was asked to speak about events in Egypt and their relation to Israel, the Palestinians, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  My co-panelists were Professor Greg Aftandilian (former State Department Egypt analyst) and Les Campbell (NDI senior associate regional director for the Middle East and North Africa).   A video and transcript of the event are available at the CNP website.

APN on HuffPo: Exploding Three Middle East Straw Men

Last week American Jewish Committee President David Harris published an op-ed entitled "Three Middle East Myths Exploded."  I had a lot of issues with this op-ed.  My response (to the main things that caused me concern - there are many others that I did not address) was posted today on the Huffington Post.

Exploding Three Middle East Straw Men

published 2/14/11

The straw man is a familiar figure in Middle East punditry -- to win the argument, just misrepresent the views of the other side. The recent Huffington Post piece by American Jewish Committee President David Harris is an example par excellence of this tactic.

Israel Study Tour, A Report from the Ground

Study_Tour_Collage_186x140.jpgOn our first two days in Israel and West Bank, APN's study tour group saw East Jerusalem and Hebron, the two holiest towns to Judaism and, not coincidentally, the two predominantly Palestinian urban areas in which Israelis choose to settle.

The situation in both places is awful and getting worse every day. Both Jerusalem and Hebron offer a glimpse into what the future holds for all Israelis and Palestinians if they fail to reach a two state peace solution, if they allow the status quo to fester.

Important comments today from an unlikely source: Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic.  Writing about the very reasonable concerns Israel has over developments in Egypt, Wieseltier correctly connects the dots to the Israeli-Palestinian arena and proceeds to blast the Netanyahu-Barak government for its "gross historical irresponsibility" in their dealing with the Palestinians. Weiseltier writes:

"The collapse of the Mubarak regime cannot be attributed, obviously, to the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Egypt has exploded for Egyptian reasons. The valiant people in Tahrir Square did not include Palestinian statehood among their demands. Their grievances were domestic, as Mubarak's outrages have been domestic. Yet the Egyptian repudiation of Mubarak will have consequences for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and so the analysis of Israel's new situation cannot be addressed solely in terms of vulnerability and vigilance.

"Here is where concern about Israel must be added to concern for Israel. For the Netanyahu-Barak government has displayed gross historical irresponsibility in recent years. It has, in its relations with the Palestinians, desired only stasis and the status quo.