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Reaffirming APN's Mission

Peter Beinart's important article in the New York Review of Books was to me a reaffirmation that Americans for Peace Now is on the right track, that it represents hope for a better Israel, for a just, secure, and democratic Israel. It was a reaffirmation that APN should stick to its mission and provides a venue for progressive Americans who want to see the values that they hold dearly implemented in a moral, peace seeking Jewish state.

APN has always served as a bridge between Israel's liberal Zionist community and Americans who support it. We're a bridge between our Israeli sister organization, Peace Now, and Americans who support the worldview of Israel's peace movement and want their government in Washington to act accordingly.

Beinart's article also reaffirmed my conviction that APN should continue to serve as a bridge between Israel's liberal Zionist Jews and America's Jewish establishment.

One of APN's chief functions, I think, is to influence the Jewish establishment from within. And one of our chief messages is that American Jews ought to adopt the culture of open and frank discussion that is so characteristic of Israeli society.

We urge American Jews to voice their opinion when they disagree with Israeli policies and conduct. American friends of Israel don't do any favors to Israel by being silent, by not calling Israeli governments on policies that are bad for Israel and bad for the US. Beinart eloquently made this point in a follow up blog posting to his NY Review of Books piece, headlined "Love Israel? Criticize it."

APN consistently makes the point that by blindly following the line of Israeli official Hasbara (propaganda) and by refraining from public debate, the American Jewish establishment is perpetuating the status quo and does little to stop Israel from sinking deeper and deeper into de-facto bi-nationalism and international isolation.

I recently conveyed this message to a group of young Jewish leaders - Israelis, Americans and Europeans - who are groomed to serve, in various capacities, as informal advocates for Israel.

I told these talented young men and women, on a visit to Washington to learn how the Jewish establishment advocates for Israel, that I don't envy them. Because making a convincing case for Israel's current policies on the international arena - as long as Israel does not credibly work to achieve a two-state solution - is like fighting with your hands tied behind your back. Tragically, the policies of the current Israeli government impede effective pro-Israeli advocacy abroad.

Needless to say, most were unhappy with this message. But my clear impression was that it provoked all of them to think about the efficacy of advocating for Israeli government policies that serve neither the interests of Israelis nor those of their international allies.