They Say, We say: Removing settlements and outposts from the West Bank will not satisfy the Arabs

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:

Removing settlements and outposts from the West Bank will not satisfy the Arabs and bring peace. The Arabs regard even Tel Aviv as "occupied territory" and aspire to "liberate" all of Palestine.

We Say:

The question is not whether Palestinians will give up the dream of "liberating" all of Palestine. The question is whether the existence of a rejectionist minority, potentially willing to use violence against Israel to pursue their "liberation" dream, means that peace is not possible. The answer, clearly, is no.

Most Palestinians recognize that Israel is here to stay. Most also accept the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as the only real option available to fulfill their national aspirations. Most accept that an agreement to create a viable Palestinian state would mean the end of territorial claims against Israel. For years, public opinion surveys among the Palestinians have consistently found this to be the case.

Certainly, there is a minority of Palestinians who don't accept a two-state solution, and even Palestinians who accept the two-state solution are not necessarily happy about it. But there is no reason they should be: peace requires the Palestinians to sacrifice their dream of returning to homes and land that they or their families left within living memory.

Likewise, some Israelis and Diaspora Jews dream of a Greater Israel that includes all of the West Bank and even land beyond. This minority clings to its dangerous desire, irrespective of how unattainable its dream is. At the same time, many Israelis who support the two-state solution - recognizing that it is the only thing that can guarantee Israel's future as a Jewish state and a democracy - do so reluctantly. This is understandable: just as peace requires Palestinians to give up the dream of returning to Jaffa, so must Israelis give up the dream of holding on to Shechem (Nablus) and Shiloh, or Hevron (Hebron), cradles of Jewish civilization.

The vast majority of both Israelis and Palestinians want peace and accept the two-state solution. A successful peace agreement will include two mutually reinforcing components: meaningful incentives to further buttress the notion among both Israelis and Palestinians that peace is better than the reckless pursuit of unattainable dreams; and a strong security component to deter and fend off any threats from rejectionists.

APN's Mark Silverberg - Cleveland Jewish News: Proposed new Iran sanctions all wrong

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As an American supporter of Israel, I am strongly against the Iran sanctions legislation recently introduced by U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican. I deeply hope that Senate leaders will not move this ill-timed and highly problematic legislation forward.

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They Say, We Say: Jews who live outside the land of Israel have no right to criticize the actions of those who do

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"

God Wants the Jews to Have All the Land

They Say:

Based on the teachings of the Torah, the Jewish obligation to live in the land of Israel means that Jews who live outside the land of Israel have no right to criticize the actions of those who do.

We Say:

The Jewish tradition has a lot to say about the obligation for one Jew to speak up if he or she sees another doing something wrong. Although our sources make clear that rebuke must be done out of love, nevertheless, it is clear that whatever power we have to speak must be exercised.

Most of this commentary is derived from one verse in the Torah, Leviticus 19:17, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your fellow and you shall not bear a sin because of him."

Both Rambam and Ramban offer commentary on this: Ramban (Nachmanides) comments on the verse above that if you do not rebuke someone who requires it, then you yourself take on their sin.

If the state of Israel is engaged in actions that risk the lives of our people, we are assuredly obligated to speak up and try to convince it to refrain. We must do so to save the lives of our brothers and sisters, no matter what the risk is to ourselves in terms of the opinion of others, our livelihoods, or even physical harms.

As we learn from Tahuma Mishpatim: "If a man of learning sits in his home and says to himself: 'What have the affairs of society to do with me? ...Why should I trouble myself with the people's voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!' If he does this, he overthrows the world."

The Torah commands us to depart from evil and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (Ps. 34:15), to be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace, and pursuing peace, loving one's fellow creatures and bringing them closer to Torah. Our tradition emphasizes our need to seek peace, to make peace with others - and not least of all, to bring honor, not shame, to God through our actions - so that people will say that the Jewish people act with justice, and that our Torah is a just document, and godly. Let us remember the words of our tradition (Sifre Numbers, 42) "Great is peace, for it is bestowed on those who work righteousness, as it is said, 'For the works of righteousness shall be peace.' (Isaiah 32:17)"

They Say, We Say: Israel was given to the Jews by God

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"

God Wants the Jews to Have All the Land

They Say:

Based on the teachings of the Torah, it is clear that the land of Israel was given to the Jews by God, and should never be negotiated over or given to non-Jews.

We Say:

The words and teachings of the Torah and the Mishnah have been debated for millennia, and no doubt this will continue to be the case. There will always be those who will cherry-pick the words of the Torah and the Sages in order to justify their views. However, coming to these teachings with an open heart and an open mind allows us to see that the teachings of the Torah not only support the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace, but require us to pursue it.

Those who oppose peace efforts often say that the basis of our claim to the land is God's biblical promise, so Jews should not negotiate over the future of any part of that land. In reality, the Torah tells us that while the land of Israel was given to us by God, that gift was not absolute, and pragmatic considerations are to be taken into account with respect to our exercise of that ownership.

We find a clear demonstration of the kind of pragmatism that is present in the Torah in Genesis 23. Here the Torah tells us that after the death of Sarah, when Abraham wants a place to bury his dead, he selects the site known as the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron. But what does he do next? He purchases the cave of Machpelah from its then-owners, and even insists on paying full price for it.

Why does he offer to pay for what he knows was given to him by God? Because he knows, too, that his neighbors, who are not Jews, do not recognize God's gift of the land to him. Rather than insisting on his claim and simply appropriating the site or demanding that it be ceded to him, Abraham chooses the path of peace - the path that we as Jews are exhorted to follow numerous times in the Torah. This path requires him to go the extra distance to make sure that he maintains peaceful, respectful relations with his neighbors, treating their claim to the land as valid, even if in his heart he believes that his own claim supersedes it. In other words, for Abraham and for us as Jews today, peace as a value overrides the principle of a divine promise. Ethical pragmatism overrides dogma.

An illustration of the conditional nature of God's granting of the land comes to us through Ramban, the early 13th century commentator. Ramban writes that after the flood, Noah's descendants were scattered to various places where, by chance, they became nations. What of the nations that existed in these same places before the flood? When a nation comes to sin, Ramban explains, it is only right that it lose its place and another people come to inherit the land - even if its place there was granted by God. This was the rule, he says, from the beginning of the Torah.

Another example is the case with Canaan: the Canaanites lost their land because they behaved immorally. This rule, according to Ramban (citing Leviticus 18:28), continues to this day, "[God] expelled those who rebelled against Him, and settled those who served Him so that they know by serving God they will inherit it, but if they sin against God, the land will vomit them out, just as it did the previous nation". Thus, the land of Israel is promised to us conditionally, insofar as we act with morality towards God and towards other human beings.

News Nosh 01.24.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Friday January 24, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Tattoo a Star of David on his forehead and parachute him into Gaza.”
--Right-wing MKs attack civics teacher who said the IDF is immoral.**

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News Nosh 01.23.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday January 23, 2014
Quote of the day:
"It's an ostrich policy..."
--Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni accuses right-wing politicians of ignoring the reality.** 

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News Nosh 01.22.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday January 22, 2014
Word of the day:
'Nonsense.'
--How Israeli President Shimon Peres described the demand for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish state.'**

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News Nosh 1.21.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday January 21, 2014
Quote of the day:
"What about the settlements?"
--Arab MK Ahmed Tibi yelled out during a historic speech by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Knesset that praised Israel at length and called critics anti-Semites.**

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News Nosh 1.20.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday January 20, 2014
Number of the day:
15 million.
--The number of Israeli taxpayers dollars disbursed to unauthorized settler outposts, even though it is prohibited.**

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Hard Questions, Tough Answers with Yossi Alpher: January 20, 2014

Alpher_gazawar This week Alpher discusses whether there is any chance of replacing Assad with a transition regime as discussed at the Geneva I talks, who else agrees with Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon's labeling of Kerry by  as "obsessive and messianic," or if this is "last week's news," and whether there is anything really new on the Israeli-Palestinian scene.

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