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Blog: March 2013 Archives


Alpher discusses the ramifications of the inauguration of natural gas supply from the Tamar field in the Mediterranean to the Israeli infrastructure, if the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement, based on Israel's apology over the Mavi Marmara affair is relevant to the natural gas export issue, what he makes of a key Israeli general advocating that Israel consider establishing a security strip on the Syrian side of the Golan border in order to keep Syria-based Salafi revolutionary elements from attacking Israel, and comments on last week's revelation by Israel's Civil Administration for the West Bank that over the past 33 years less than one percent of state-owned land in the West Bank had been allotted to Palestinians, and 39 percent to Israeli settlements and related infrastructure.

Audio recording of March 22nd briefing call on Israeli strategic affairs analyst Yossi Alpher assessing the immediate impact and repercussions of President Obama's three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank. Listen Here.

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The Obama visit

Alpher discusses whether the breakthrough in Israeli-Turkish relations was the most significant achievement of the Obama visit to Israel, whether the Turkey-Israel rapprochement was the only significant achievement of the Obama visit concerning Syria, what he meant by "progress," regarding Iran and the Palestinians an whether there were failures or low points in this visit.

Savoring The Afterglow Of Obama's Speech

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I am writing in the afterglow of President Obama's speech in Jerusalem--an afterglow that lingers on as I re-read his words, and as I recall the boisterous applause that greeted them. I'm content to leave the word clouds and microscopic parsing of his speech to others. Likewise, I'll leave to others the speculation about what might have been, if only this speech had been given years earlier. For my part, I am unrepentantly stopping to savor the moment.


In his historic speech today, President Obama fired up a crowd of a thousand young Israelis at Jerusalem's convention center, receiving an outpouring of enthusiasm and support for his message of peace.

Press Release: APN Applauds Obama's Jerusalem Speech


Americans for Peace Now (APN) today applauded President Obama's historic speech, delivered to an audience of young Israelis in Jerusalem.

APN President and CEO Debra DeLee stated:

"Today, President Obama did what he does best: he spoke directly and honestly to the people. With compassion, courage, integrity, and a touch of humor, President Obama made the best case for peace that Israelis have ever heard, either from a U.S. president or from their own leaders. In doing so, Israelis finally got a chance to understand the depth of this president's commitment to their security, their prosperity, and their future, and to understand why this commitment is directly linked to the longstanding U.S. commitment to the achievement of peace.

President Obama's Speech to the Israeli People - Full Text

Following is the text - as prepared for delivery - of President Obama's speech in Jerusalem today, before a large crowd of young Israelis.

Shalom. It is an honor to be here with you in Jerusalem, and I am so grateful for the welcome that I have received from the people of Israel. I bring with me the support of the American people, and the friendship that binds us together.

Over the last two days, I have reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I have borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I have seen Israel's shining future in your scientists and entrepreneurs. This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation. Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated. But what I've looked forward to the most is the ability to speak directly to you, the Israeli people - especially so many young people - about the history that brought us here today, and the future that you will make in the years to come.


When President Obama visits Israel this week, he will attempt neither to unmoor the old peace process nor outfit a new one. But with new leverage in hand, a determined Secretary of State John Kerry at the helm, and riding a wave of domestic and worldwide popularity, the president may never have stronger winds at his back in the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace. To take advantage of them, he will soon need to open his sails. If the president hopes to ever make any real headway, however, he should first rid his outlook of an old trope that has become an excuse for inaction: the idea that "The U.S. cannot want peace more than the parties themselves."

Congratulations to APN Board member Rabbi Andy Bachman

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Mazal Tov to APN Board member Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim, featured in the Forward's list of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis. bachman_headshotFB.jpg


Each year at Passover, Jews read this line in the haggadah, "In every generation a person is obligated to see themselves as if they had left Egypt." Why? Because each of us should understand that in our generation, just as in our ancestors' generation, the status quo is not inevitable. The pharaohs of Egypt thought themselves gods, considered themselves invincible, and believed that their power could not be overthrown.


Peace Now welcomes President Obama to Israel


When President Obama flies into Israel Wednesday, he will see from Airforce One this huge sign that Peace Now activists lay down to welcome his message of peace. The sign, 180 feet long and 50 feet wide, is located in the fields of Kibbutz Nahshon, half-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, on the route that large incoming jets use when they land at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport.


by Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen

APN Welcomes President Obama's Visit to Israel


Washington, DC - On behalf of Americans for Peace Now (APN) and on the eve of President Obama's historic visit to Israel, APN President and CEO Debra DeLee issued the following statement:



Click HERE to read APN's statement welcoming Obama's Israel visit.


Alpher discusses the new Israeli government, the confluence of the new government with President Obama's arrival, the policy options to be discussed during the visit, and the political ramifications of the final composition of Netanyahu's new government.

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On the eve of Barack Obama's first visit to Israel as President, and shortly before being sworn in, Israel's new Minister of Housing and Construction indicated over the weekend that he intends to build in West Bank settlements in a way that would make the creation of a Palestinian state impossible.


Last week I raised concerns about Dennis Ross's new 14-point peace plan, which would gut the very notion of the two-state solution. Ross's approach is the most prominent manifestation of a growing trend toward the acceptance of a seductive new logic that has emerged in the context of the current Israeli-Palestinian deadlock. According to this line of thought, breaking the deadlock requires an approach that falls comfortably within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pro-"Greater Israel" political comfort zone, but that can somehow still be marketed as "pro-peace."

The New Israeli Coalition: Promise and Peril


The news broke only hours ago: after 40 days, an agreement has finally been reached on a new Israeli governing coalition, with the new government to be sworn in next week. This news is the culmination of weeks of dramatic and sometimes melodramatic political machinations and theatrics, including public bargaining and issuing of ultimatums, coming on the heels of elections that yielded surprising results. In the end, the new Israeli ruling coalition will be composed of Netanyahu's Likud-Beiteinu faction (31 seats), aligned with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid faction (19 seats) and Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party (12 seats), and cemented by Tzipi Livni's HaTnuah faction (6 seats), with key ministries parceled out among the various parties.

The following post was written by APN intern Austen Eberhardt 

Last week, the Middle East Institute welcomed the Commissioner-General of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Filipo Grandi, for a briefing entitled "Palestinian Refugees in a Changing Middle East." Addressing a crowd of mostly Middle East policy experts and scholars, Grandi stated that "The biggest competitor for attention and... resources to the question of Palestinian refugees today, is...Syria." However, in his analysis of the current situation on the ground, he introduced a new and "underreported" element into the discourse on the ongoing civil war in Syria, the "Palestinian element."


Alpher discusses what is his initial assessment of the emerging new Netanyahu government, and whether Netanyahu emerges a winner or a loser from these elections, how do you think Israelis will respond to President Obama's public speech before Israeli students on March 21 (rather than addressing the Knesset during his upcoming visit), and whether there is any strategic significance for the Israel-Syria situation in the brief abduction last week of Filipino UN troops by Syrian rebels.


Just in time for President Obama's long-awaited trip to Israel, perennial Israeli-Palestinian policy strategist Dennis Ross has published his 14-point plan to achieve Middle East peace. Ross claims that by following this plan, Israelis and Palestinians can "chip away at the sources of each side's belief about the other's commitment to a genuine two-state solution."

Today AIPAC supporters are on the Hill. One of their goals will be to tell your elected members of Congress what is "pro-Israel" when it comes to Iran. Specifically, they will be asking your House member to co-sponsor and eventually vote for HR 850 - the latest in a long line of AIPAC-backed Iran sanctions bills - and they will be asking your Senators to co-sponsor and eventually vote for S. Res. 65 - nicknamed by some the "Backdoor to War" resolution, since it effectively gives a green light for Israeli military action against Iran that, if carried out, would almost certainly require the U.S. to join the fight.

Click here to tell your House member: don't support HR 850.

Click here to tell your Senator: don't support S. Res. 65

Click here for APN analysis highlighting the problems with both of these legislative initiatives.


Washington, DC - APN today released the following statement with respect to two new AIPAC-backed legislative initiatives on Capitol Hill:



Alpher discusses whether Netanyahu will form a government by the new deadline of March 16th, what the appointment of Philip Gordon as White House coordinator for the Middle East might tell us about Obama's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue in his second term, and whether there is any hope at all for Turkish-Israeli rapprochement,