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Blog: April 2011 Archives

What to make of the Palestinian reconciliation deal?

We took time out today from Yariv Oppenheimer's U.S. speaking tour to chat on video about the significance of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement.

Watch it:

It's an unfortunate truth that when people who have long been at each other's throats begin to try to find peace, they often know very little about each other.

This week's announcement of a unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah revealed just how true this is for Western, Jewish and/or Israeli observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We deal in headlines and sound-bites, with very little information that goes back more than five years - unless it goes to 1948. The vast expanse of years before Israel's founding, and between that war and the most recent, often get very short shrift.

APN on the Gaza-Hamas Challenge

The news just broke that a deal has been reached between Fatah and Hamas to create a Palestinian unity government that will serve for one year, until elections are held.

It is still too early to know if this deal will hold. There have been many reports of breakthroughs on this front that failed to materialize. Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to take a look at the challenges posed by Hamas' rule of Gaza and at how those challenges might be addressed.

Reading the Conflict: The Lost Years

Last week, APN's Noam Shelef called on President Obama to "get peace unstuck," referring to the new Americans for Peace Now policy recommendations for the President. These come as the Obama Administration appears to be trying, like so many Administrations before it, to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict toward some kind of murky solution, rather than genuinely grapple with it, in all its complexity.  

The New Zeitgeist: Israeli-Palestinian Status Quo Is Untenable

peace now sign 186x140.jpgToday, a group of leading Israel cultural figures, among them winners of the prestigious Israel Prize, gathered in Tel Aviv to announce their welcome of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel, with its borders based on the 1967 borders.  

Goldberg v. Friedman, Round 2 (sigh) [UPDATED]

Jeffrey Goldberg over at the Atlantic is apparently still very unhappy with me. What else explains his determination to turn what should be a policy discussion into what is becoming a series of personal attacks? For his latest installment, see here. For previous installments, see his earlier attack, and my response. As before, I believe a direct, open letter to Goldberg is the best response.

Last week, just as violence was raging again between Israel and Gaza, I recommended I Shall Not Hate, a memoir by Gazan doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish, whose niece and three daughters we killed by Israeli forces during 2009's Operation Cast Lead.

I don't know that I'll consistently tie all my recommendations in with current events, but this week, as we in the Jewish community finish our Passover cleaning and prepare to celebrate our freedom, it seems painfully appropriate that we consider the ways in which freedom is systematically denied, in our names, to another people, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Today, I recommend Saree Makdisi's Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

Get peace unstuck

On Tuesday, APN released an eight-point Action Plan for President Obama to reinvigorate his peace efforts.

Click here to read APN's new policy plan.

Now, there are reports that President Barack Obama is deciding whether to make a major policy speech on Israeli-Palestinian peace in the coming weeks.

This speech could be an important opportunity for the president to begin reasserting U.S. leadership in the effort to resolve the conflict and end the occupation.

Action Plan for President Obama

Action_Plan_Graphic186x140.jpgThe urgency of the Israeli-Palestinian situation today cannot be overstated.  Current peace efforts have lost all credibility.  Settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues, undermining the viability of the two-state solution.  Moderate Palestinian leaders, unable to deliver progress to their people through negotiations, are under increasing pressure to pursue alternative strategies.  Violence and tensions on the ground are rising. 

Babies_Talk_Settlements_186x140.jpgAnd you thought babies could only talk about financial investments?

Watch the video below:

My response to Goldberg: Don't Shoot the Tweeter [UPDATED]

Prominent journalist Jeffrey Goldberg doesn't like a tweet I sent out yesterday. Here is the tweet: "Haaretz WikiLeaks exclusive: Israel ruled out military option on Iran years ago (so what about that Goldberg spin?) |" (119 characters, of which 30 characters are devoted to Goldberg).

APN's Lara Friedman on Viewpoint with James Zogby 4/7/11

On April 7, 2011 I was a guest on Viewpoint with James Zogby, talking about settlements, the peace process, and the latest controversy over the Goldstone Report (and the recent op-ed by Judge Goldstone).  You can check it out here.

Reading the Conflict: I Shall Not Hate

When I undertook this regular feature last week, I explained what I hope to do and why I feel qualified to do it (if you want to catch up, you can do so here). But there's one more thing I need to explain.

Make Those Waters Part

Doug_Mishkin_186x140.jpgAPN offers the song "Make Those Waters Part" by Doug Mishkin for you to add to your Passover Seder. The song appears on his album Woody's Children, as well as on Celebrate Passover and on Sing Out For Justice (produced by the Union for Reform Judaism). Mishkin is a lawyer, singer-songwriter, and member of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C.

To be read (or sung) just prior to the Maggid.

Listen to the song.

Download a printer-friendly version.

Access APN Seder inserts from previous years.

Peres closeup 186x140.jpgThe Netanyahu government has marked the occasion of President Shimon Peres's visit to Washington with some very unwelcome "gifts" to the Obama Administration:  on Sunday, the government of Israel let the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee approve a plan for massive settlement expansion in the southern part of East Jerusalem

Reading the Conflict

The daily flood of information from Israel/Palestine can leave one feeling both overwhelmed and, paradoxically, under-informed. Background is often thin or lacking all together, and in the rush of details, meaning can be lost.

This, of course, is where books come in handy!