They Say, We Say: "What about boycotts and divestment efforts targeting the occupation?"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

BDS & Criticism of Israel

They Say:

What about boycotts and divestment efforts targeting the occupation? Isn't this just another pretext to delegitimize and attack Israel?

We Say:

There is a growing movement seeking to focus boycott and divestment efforts on settlements and the occupation, supported by activists who are neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic. This effort is gaining traction as a direct consequence of Israeli policies that are deepening the occupation to the point of potential irreversibility in the near term, in tandem with the apparent inability or unwillingness of governments around the world to in any meaningful way challenge these policies.

We believe that activists who seek to focus boycott and divestment efforts squarely on the occupation and settlements deserve credit. Indeed, APN long ago suggested that activists focus on opportunities for people to "invest for peace" - supporting companies and projects whose work is consistent with peace, coexistence, and the two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict - and on raising awareness about companies based in or operating in settlements, to permit people to make informed choices about their investment options. We recognize, too, that some companies play a role in enabling the occupation and supporting settlements. Some do so directly, for example by investing in settlements; others do so indirectly and perhaps unknowingly - for example through the sale of equipment used both in Israel and in settlements.

We believe it is legitimate for activists to press companies to adopt practices that deny support to settlements and the occupation, including through targeted boycotts and divestment. Narrowly targeting such activism presents serious challenges: absent a peace agreement, Israel has undeniable security needs related to the occupied territories, for example, securing its border with Jordan and preventing terrorism emanating from the West Bank into Israel. In many cases, like these, the line between contributing to the occupation and permitting Israel to address legitimate security concerns is not clear. Nonetheless, if careful enough distinctions are drawn, such activism can advance the goals of ending the occupation and promoting peace and a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In short, the legitimacy and effectiveness of settlement- and occupation-focused activism will be a function of how its proponents address these challenges. To the extent that such efforts can be portrayed by critics as ignoring or dismissing Israel's legitimate security needs, or as blurring the line between Israel and the occupied territories, they have the potential to be as problematic and counterproductive as efforts directly targeting Israel. Moreover, they risk playing into the hands of settlers and their supporters who gladly blur this same line and who are eager to denounce all anti-settlement and anti-occupation activism as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

They Say, We Say: "Why does APN differentiate between boycotts and similar efforts targeting Israel and the same kind of efforts targeting settlements and/or the occupation?"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Is Peace Possible?

They Say:

Why does APN differentiate between boycotts and similar efforts targeting Israel and the same kind of efforts targeting settlements and/or the occupation? They're all part of the same effort to delegitimize and attack Israel and undermine its very existence.

We Say:

The window is closing on the two-state solution. All of us who believe peace is possible and believe it is only possible through an end to the occupation and the achievement of a credible, viable two-state solution, must vote with our feet by insisting, adamantly, on the line that separates Israel and the occupied territories. Activism, even if well-intentioned, that blurs this line is misguided and counterproductive. Clearly and unequivocally focusing activism on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 sends a powerful and unmistakable message to Israelis living on both sides of the Green Line and helps Israelis understand how great a liability the settlements are for their country and their future.

They Say, We Say: "Why doesn't APN support boycotts and divestment efforts targeting Israel?"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Is Peace Possible?

They Say:

Why doesn't APN support boycotts and divestment efforts targeting Israel? Until Israelis understand that there is a real cost to their government's anti-peace, pro-settlement policies, nothing will change.

We Say:

We weigh all activism in light of our primary mission and concern: preserving Israel's future and its security and viability as a democracy and a Jewish state. From this mission, we, as a Jewish, Zionist organization, derive our conviction that settlement expansion must stop, the settlement enterprise must be rolled back, and the occupation must end - for the sake of Israel's own security and its own future. Consistent with this mission, we have always opposed boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts targeting Israel itself. We believe such campaigns are misguided and counterproductive. They target the average, innocent Israeli citizen -- who may well support an end to the occupation and a two-state solution -- rather than the Israeli government policies that are ostensibly the target of the campaigns. They have caused many Israelis and supporters of Israel -- people whose voices are vitally needed to oppose the policies that such campaigns target -- to feel compelled to defend Israel, regardless of the policies in question.

We also categorically oppose the efforts of organizations and activists whose goal, explicit or implicit, is to undermine Israel's existence. Historically, much of the pressure for BDS campaigns originated with anti-Israel sources not interested in Israeli security concerns or Palestinian behavior, giving rise to concerns about global anti-Semitism and the perception that the campaigns are not truly (or only) about Israeli policies but rather reflect a deep-seated hatred for and rejection of Israel.

Consistent with our mission and our convictions, APN has long argued that activism should be targeted across the Green Line separating Israel and the occupied territories. We believe that for activism to be both effective and morally defensible, activists must make clear, emphatically and unambiguously, that their target is the occupation and its manifestations - like settlements and acts of collective punishment - and not Israel proper, innocent Israeli civilians, or legitimate Israeli security practices. Doing so underscores the fact that such activism is not anti-Israel, but rather is opposed to specific policies and practices related to Israeli behavior in the occupied territories.

They Say, We Say: "A boycott of settlements is not only politically misguided but also pointless."

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Is Peace Possible?

They Say:

A boycott of settlements is not only politically misguided but it is also pointless, practically speaking, since it won't have any real economic impact on settlements.

We Say:

The Israeli right's reaction to settlement boycott efforts demonstrates that settlement supporters, at least, fear boycotts can have a real impact. Indeed, the pro-settler lobby and its Knesset partisans appear terrified of settlement boycotts - so much so that they pushed through a flagrantly undemocratic law against them.

The settlers and their supporters know that boycotting settlements is a big deal. They've spent decades trying to erase the Green Line. They want you to enjoy your wine and your homemade orange soda courtesy of that nifty gizmo that lets you carbonate water in your own kitchen. Pay no attention to the fact that in doing so, you're supporting an ideologically rooted political enterprise with an explicit goal to block a two-state solution. Drink up, and for the love of Greater Israel, don't worry about where it came from.

They Say, We Say: Making a big deal about settlements unnecessarily foments discord between America and Israel.

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

Go HERE for all installments of APN's "They Say, We Say"

Are settlements really a problem?

They Say:

Making a big deal about settlements unnecessarily foments discord between America and Israel.

We Say:

The U.S. has long opposed settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, recognizing settlements as a political and security liability for Israel and an impediment to achieving a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The policy dates back to the birth of the settlement movement and has remained consistent across administrations led by both political parties. This is entirely the correct position for the U.S. and it is unfortunate that successive U.S. administrations have failed to translate this longstanding official opposition to settlements into a coherent policy that has convinced Israel to stop settlement expansion.

For decades U.S. presidents have pressed Israel to stop building settlements. The administration of George W. Bush put settlements under the spotlight with the Mitchell Report and the Roadmap, both of which called for a complete settlement freeze (the latter of which also called for the removal of illegal outposts). The Obama Administration early on sought a settlement freeze. Both of these administrations focused on settlements because settlements are a central obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. It should be emphasized that a settlement freeze is not and has never been an end unto itself: the goal of any peace policy is to achieve a conflict-ending agreement that renders the settlement issue moot. That said, while a settlement freeze need not be a precondition for peace negotiations, continued settlement growth cannot be dismissed or ignored.

For the sake of Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. - regardless of who is in the White House - must convince Israel's leaders that American opposition to settlements can no longer be dismissed. Continued settlement expansion undermines Palestinian moderates, feeds extremism, exacerbates tensions on the ground, and diminishes the chances of achieving a negotiated agreement that could end the conflict. Likewise, Israel's failure to rein in settler renegades threatens the viability of peace efforts.

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There are always new challenges along the path to peace. Volatility in the Middle East, new policy makers and political pressure from all sides, and a continually evolving landscape in and around Israel create seemingly endless obstacles to peace. At Americans for Peace Now we believe peace is possible. But we know it takes work. Working together, we can educate, advocate, and serve as a strong voice that will lead toward peace, security, and stability for Israel.

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Where We Stand

APN has long been the most courageous, principled voice of Americans who support Israel and know that only peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish state and a democracy.  Positions advocated for more than two decades by APN and its Israeli sister organization Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) – like calling for the creation of a viable Palestinian state, freezing and evacuation of settlements, and Jerusalem serving as the capital of both Israel and the future Palestinian state – are now recognized by most American Jews and Israelis as basic requirements both for peace and for a secure future for Israel.

APN’s mission is reflected in the following core positions/principles, which animate our work:

 We believe unequivocally that Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace are essential to Israel’s security, well-being, and viability as a Jewish state and a democracy. We firmly believe that peace between Israel and its neighbors is a key U.S. national security interest. We recognize the tragic costs, now and for future generations, of failing to make peace.

  • We are deeply opposed to Israeli settlement creation and expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlement enterprise is a major obstacle to peace, undermines Israel’s security, and threatens Israel’s viability as a Jewish state and a democracy.
  • We know that the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace will require the establishment of a sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace and security alongside Israel, both within recognized borders.
  • We embrace the two-state solution as the only viable option for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowing that neither Israelis nor Palestinians will – or should be expected to – give up their desire for self-determination in their own state, recognizing that there is no zero-sum victory possible for either side, and knowing that in this context, the only alternative to the two-state solution is prolonged violence and bloodshed.
  • We believe that Israelis and Palestinians, with support and pressure from the international community, must negotiate the details of a peace agreement that will result in two states.  The borders of these states must be based on the 1967 lines, including the removal of most settlements and with any changes in those lines achieved through mutually agreed-on land swaps.  An agreement must enable and support the emergence of a state of Palestine that is maximally contiguous and politically and economically viable, with its capital in East Jerusalem. 
  • Such a solution will entail historic and painful compromises for both Israelis and Palestinians.  Israelis will have to relinquish the goals of establishing "Greater Israel" in an area encompassing the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria – the present-day West Bank –and of maintaining control over East Jerusalem.  Palestinians will have to relinquish the goal of regaining control over the 78% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that they view as "Historic Palestine," agree to find solutions for the Palestinian refugee issue largely outside the borders of the state of Israel, and accept intrusive security arrangements necessary to address Israel's legitimate concerns.  
  • We insist without apology that any peace agreement must be predicated on recognition of Israel’s legitimate security needs and the inalienable right of the Jewish people for a national home in the land of Israel, alongside recognition of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to dignity, independence, and self-determination in a sovereign, independent state of Palestine.

Settlements: Antithetical to Peace

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APN and Peace Now in Israel work day in and day out to stop the settlements from hijacking Israel's future. If settlement construction continues, settlements will destroy the very possibility of peace and sentence Israel to a future where it will no longer be viable as both a Jewish state and a democracy.

Settlements in Focus
Peace Now's Hagit Ofran and APN's Lara Friedman in Haaretz: Don't Be Fooled by Netanyahu's Sleight of Hand on Settlements
Netanyahu’s (Real) Settlement Record
“Facts on the Ground” – APN’s Map App
Price Tag Timeline
They Say, We Say – Questions & Answers on settlements
Blaming the Messenger: Bibi & Friends Attack Peace Now
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