At this time of the year, I typically write to you reflecting on the progress made toward Israeli-Palestinian peace in the year that passed, and highlight the reasons for hope for further progress in the coming year.
As 2017 comes to a close, "the hope thing" becomes more difficult. With Donald Trump in the White House, Benjamin Netanyahu in his ninth consecutive year as Israel’s prime minister, and no sign of diplomacy from any of the players, it's hard to find reasons for hope. At least not in the short run. Holding one's breath in anticipation of Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian “ultimate deal” would not be a healthy way to start the new year.
In our current political climate, we must redefine inspiration and hope. I find it in resistance - taking action to oppose the destructive policies of both Trump and Netanyahu. At this time, the imperative is to work to expose the actions of those who talk about peace but act to undermine it. The imperative is to minimize the damage that these two leaders are inflicting on the cause of peace and to leave the door open to a future two-state solution.
At the forefront of this effort, on the ground in Israel, is our sister organization Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), with its dedicated staff and thousands of volunteers and supporters. Throughout the year, we report to you on their accomplishments. They demonstrate, they educate, they take the government and the settlers to court and win, they document and publicize government settlement activity in the West Bank. They are the leading voice of Israel’s peace movement in the media, on campuses and on the street. If there is something that inspires me and gives me hope today, it is this group of dedicated Israelis - the true Israeli patriots, the real Israeli heroes, headed by the charismatic and tireless Avi Buskila.
Those of us at Americans for Peace Now complement the work of Shalom Achshav. We raise money to support their efforts, and focus much of our resistance on educating our own government and citizens. We know that this job will become even more critical and more challenging in 2018.
We don’t know what this coming year might bring. Netanyahu is facing several criminal investigations. Trump is facing investigations by a special counsel and by congress. Both may very well be indicted.
The Israeli public is disgusted with its leaders’ corruption just as most Americans are disgusted with Donald Trump. Israelis are going out to the street to protest corruption, and many are articulating the relationship between their society’s ailments, the increasing erosion in democratic norms and practices, and the corrupting impact of the occupation. This could bring change, and change brings opportunity.
We must help our colleagues in Israel resist, as we here in the United States must resist. We are determined to not let the enemies of peace win. We are proud to have you join us in this resistance.
As we end this challenging year of 2017, we need your help. Support our work with a charitable contribution. Don't give up the fight for two states.
President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now