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Blog: November 2011 Archives

Tolerance, please!

Our intern Benjamin Kasdan wrote the following piece about a disturbing experience, after helping us organize an event in Washington:

As I was leaving an event on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sponsored by Americans for Peace Now earlier this month, an elderly man who noticed that I was carrying an APN sign approached me and asked me if I worked with APN. When I responded that I did, he called me a self-hating Jew, and told me that I should be ashamed of myself.

The encounter shocked me and has been troubling me ever since. Has our community really become that intolerant?
WaPo_Hagit_Collage320x265.jpgThe Washington Post's Sunday edition featured Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now's Settlements Watch project, in a story about the attacks on Israel's democracy and civil society. 

In the face of repeated death threats, she is not intimidated and determined to continue her work, educating the Israeli public about the threat that West Bank settlements pose to Israel's future, Hagit told the Post.  

Shortly after the article was published, Hagit and six of her colleagues at Peace Now again received death threats yesterday, this time by email. 
Last week Commentary published a piece by Evelyn Gordon entitled "If Settlements Are Only 1.1 Percent of West Bank, How Are They an Obstacle to Peace?"  Does the author have a point?  Only in the through-the-looking-glass world of those who will cynically seize on any argument -- even one they almost certainly know has no merit -- to defend, excuse, or justify continued settlement expansion.

Peace Now responds to attacks


In recent days, Peace Now has been facing attacks from many corners. Peace Now's Settlement Watch director received death threats, and a bomb threat was called in at their Jerusalem office. They have also been targeted by an onslaught of anti-democratic bills in the Knesset. But Peace Now refuses to be silenced.

Yariv Oppenhiemer responds to the anti-democratic Knesset measures, saying "we are the real patriots."

In the face of death threats, Hagit Ofran says "she who believes does not fear."

An anti-democratic onslaught

Peace Now is again under attack. 

Today's attackers are not rightwing terrorists but rather members of the Israeli Knesset, the very people  entrusted with protecting Israeli democracy 

The latest in an onslaught of anti-democratic bills presented to the Knesset is directed chiefly at Peace Now's litigation efforts regarding West Bank settlement construction. The bill, made public yesterday, would disallow petitions against the Israeli government to Israel's High Court by "public petitioners" such as Peace Now, unless they petition alongside a private individual who is harmed by government policies. 

What started as a trickle of anti-democratic Knesset legislation, is turning into a stream and may soon become a flood. Here is a partial list of such legislative initiatives, prepared by our intern Brian Reeves. Most of the following bills were submitted by members of Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud Party.
  • 16 November 2011 - Bill to curtail left-wing groups' ability to represent victims in the High Court.  "Public petitioners" who are not a direct victim will not be permitted to file petitions for individual victims.  
  • 9 November 2011 - Two bills to limit foreign funding to Israeli NGOs.  The first would limit the funds Israeli organizations could receive from foreign government entities to NIS 20,000, while the second would place a 45% tax on these funds.  

Smearing Israel's 'Peace Now' Movement

By Ted Lieverman

During the Vietnam War, many Americans held the notion that all antiwar activists were naïve pacifists, draft-dodgers or ungrateful traitors. That was largely a myth that allowed members of the public to ignore the content of the activists' messages about the war.

There may be a similarly mistaken notion about the peace movement in Israel, as the Israeli right-wing repeatedly castigates those who favor a two-state solution that would create a viable Palestine as an independent nation. In the last two months, criticism has moved to more dangerous attacks against Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), the oldest and most active peace organization in Israel.

Our American-Jewish Stake in Israeli Democracy

This blog post was written by APN intern Brian Reeves.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's support for two upcoming bills aimed at preventing progressive Israeli non-governmental organizations from receiving anything more than token funding represents only the most recent in a string of anti-democratic measures that the current governing coalition has instigated against Israel's democratic character.

Terrorism Won't Win

action_alert2.jpgTake action now.  This is not about right or left; it is about right or wrong.

The terrorism of radical settlers and their supporters is clearly escalating. Recent months have seen repeated attacks by these Jewish terrorists against peace activists, Palestinians, the IDF and police, and against a mosque and a Muslim and a Christian cemetery inside Israel. 

Why We Have Taken a Stand with the Supreme Court

On November 7, Israel's Haaretz newspaper published an article in Hebrew by APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee explaining why we chose to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the authority of the Executive Branch to determine policy on sensitive foreign policy issues such as the status of Jerusalem.

Following is an English translation of the article:

Rabin Awaits You

HagitVandalism320x265.jpgIdo (Sany) Arazi is a Tel Aviv graphic artist who designs posters for Israeli Peace organizations. Last week he was working on a poster for Yitzhak Rabin's Memorial Day, which will be marked tomorrow in Israel. Sany prepared a sketch saying "Israel Awaits Murder - 16 years after Rabin's murder and a little before the next murder." He put it aside because he thought it may be too alarmist. 

Today, on his Facebook page, Sany wrote that it obviously is not. The terrorists who sprayed death threats at Hagit Ofran's Jerusalem home today left no room for doubt when they wrote:  "Hagit Ofran, Rabin awaits you." 

Why We Have Taken a Stand with the US Supreme Court

Supreme_Court_w_APNlines_186x140.jpgBy Debra DeLee

An important case, Zivotofsky v. Clinton, is about to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It relates to U.S. policy on Jerusalem, but isn't really about Jerusalem.  Rather, it is about longstanding efforts by the U.S. Congress to wrest foreign policy-making authority away from the executive branch.  How this case is decided will have far-reaching ramifications for America's policy, far beyond Jerusalem.

This building will blow up in five minutes!

JerusalemBombThreat186x140.jpgLast night, someone pushed the intercom button at the Jerusalem building that houses Peace Now's office. A neighbor was told: "This building will explode in five minutes." The frightened residents and a Peace Now staff member immediately evacuated the building. Outside they found "Price Tag" graffiti. "Price Tag" is what the extreme settlers call their campaign to intimidate and silence Israelis and Palestinians who support a two-state solution to the conflict. 

Spring 2012 Internships at Americans for Peace Now

Intern Event Group 186x140.jpgAre you passionate about achieving Middle East peace? Are you ready to take your activism to the next level? Are you a college student who is looking to get some work experience? Maybe you should apply for an internship at Americans for Peace Now. 

APN is seeking interns to work in our Washington, DC office for the Spring 2012 semester.

Hijacked by Legislative Anachronisms

As everybody who cares about foreign policy (and hasn't been living under a rock) knows by now, earlier this week the PLO was admitted as a full member by UNESCO, triggering pre-existing U.S. laws that mandate an immediate and 100% cut-off in U.S. funding to UNESCO.  These laws likewise mandate such a cut-off of funding to the UN, any specialized agency of the UN, or any affiliated organization of the UN who follows suit.  With the Palestinians reportedly planning to apply for membership in at least 16 more agencies, the specter of a far-reaching U.S. withdrawal from international agencies - including from agencies like the IAEA and WIPO, looms large.  And with it looms the specter of far-reaching consequences for U.S. international influence, leverage, and engagement, and for the U.S ability to protect and promote its interests across the whole spectrum of issues around the globe.

Absent from the reporting and debate around this issue is any real notice of the fact that the rationale that existed for passage of these laws in 1990 and 1994 no longer exists.  Objectively speaking, what we are seeing today is U.S. policy at the UN being hijacked by a pair of legislative anachronisms.

Earlier this week, members of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), voted to admit the PLO as "the state of Palestine," with full member-state status in that organization.

This action triggers an existing U.S. law, first passed in 1991 and then strengthened in 1994, that compels the U.S. to cut off all funding to UNESCO.  With the Palestinians reportedly poised to seek membership in as many as 16 other UN member organizations, this law could mean the U.S. effective withdrawal from a wide range of international bodies.