APN's Lara Friedman in Moment Magazine - An All-Women Symposium: The Missing XX-Factor

1| What more could be done to achieve
peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

2| What might women bring to the
peace process if more were included?

with Ruth Calderon, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Nadia Hijab, Naomi Chazan, Caroline Glick, Fania Oz-Salzberger, Laila El-Haddad, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Anat Saragusti, Cora Weiss, Sarai Aharoni, Noura Erakat, Laura Blumenfeld, Lara Friedman, Simone Susskind, Felice Friedson, Leila Hilal & Galia Golan

 

When did you last hear someone say something new about the peace process? And when did you last hear someone new say it? Every day, it seems, a panel of experts—diplomats, pundits, scholars, chin-pullers of all varieties—convenes to chew over the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. These groups all have something in common: They are overwhelmingly male. The PBS program Frontline recently attracted criticism for asking 23 male experts and three women to reflect on the career of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We at Moment have been offenders ourselves, printing past symposia on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that featured far more male than female contributors.

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"I felt sick watching Trump at AIPAC. Not for what he said - his speech was entirely predictable - and not for the fact that AIPAC gave him a platform. I felt sick because I was watching the natural culmination of decades in which AIPAC has successfully defined the terms of the "acceptable" narrative about Israel in U.S. politics and campaigns."

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Published March 22, 2016

Look on AIPAC’s Works, American Jews

For more than a decade I have been invited regularly to speak on Capitol Hill, on campuses, in synagogues, on policy panels, to foreign diplomats and to the media. On these occasions I speak, as an advocate for Israel and Israeli-Palestinian peace, about the issues on the ground in Israel-Palestine and their connection to U.S. foreign policy. And on these occasions I talk openly and critically about AIPAC, just as for years my organization has publicly challenged AIPAC’s legislative agenda at every turn.

I talk about AIPAC not because I hold any personal animus against the organization and its supporters, or because I believe in some right-wing conspiracy. I know there are good people working at and supporting AIPAC. And I know from experience - most recently with the successful Iran nuclear deal - that AIPAC is by no means omnipotent.

I also know, however, that for decades AIPAC has been actively promoting a Middle East agenda that is anathema to the values of most American Jews, to the real interests of Israel, and to peace. And I know well, from personal experience working in Washington and around the country, the enormous power AIPAC brings to bear on American Jews, members of Congress, and the U.S. political system to see its agenda enacted. That is why I cannot talk about U.S. policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without talking about AIPAC.

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APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin in the Jerusalem Post: Don’t give up on Israel!

Last week, I received an email from Tikkun Magazine crowing, “Major American Jewish Leader Changes his Mind About Israel.” Rabbi David Gordis, who has served in an astonishing number of major American Jewish institutions, reflected on his years of love and advocacy for Israel, and on the rightward trend in Israeli policies. He wrote, “sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way: Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.”

My heart sank. Many of us engaged in advocacy for Israel no doubt share Rabbi Gordis’ discontent with the trajectory of public affairs in Israel. Clearly there is reason to be troubled. Extremism has become embedded throughout every level of Israeli society. The occupation, and the racism that has grown from it, are alarming.

But, while I am sympathetic to your feelings of near-despair, Rabbi Gordis, I beseech you: don’t give up; Israel can’t afford to lose you.

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For many of my American friends and former colleagues in the media, I am the Israeli they know and therefore a go-to person on Israeli affairs. They contact me with questions on Israeli politics, Jerusalem restaurants, Hebrew slang and Israeli popular culture.

Recently, their curiosity is turning into bewilderment and astonishment. Their lovingly inquisitive approach toward Israel is turning into exasperation. Their focus now is on trying to decipher Israel’s shifting character, on its changing face, on the fading vision of the Israel they grew up loving and hoped to see thriving — a state that embodies progressive, democratic, pluralistic, tolerant values.
“What the hell is going on there,” I’m often asked, “have they totally lost it?”

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News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

Report2015SettlementsOver the weekend, Israel’s Peace Now movement published its annual report on West Bank settlement planning and construction in the past year. Following is the executive summary of Peace Now’s report, followed by a link to the full report, as well as links to several news articles about the report.

2015 In the Settlements: No Freeze At All
Settlement Watch Annual Construction Report
Peace Now's annual construction report reveals that in 2015 construction continued throughout the West Bank settlements, and especially in isolated settlements. These finding refute the argument that a "silent freeze" is currently in place. While earlier this year Netanyahu argued in English that he is the Prime Minister who has built the least in the settlements, in Hebrew he proudly demonstrated to Likud members the increase in settlement construction during his time in office. It is clear that in 2015 as well, Netanyahu's statements in Hebrew are more representative of the reality on the ground than his statements in English.
 
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"Cotton’s bill aimed at settlements policy"

This week, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced S. 2474, purportedly in order to ensure “fair” treatment by the United States of Israel and Israeli products. In truth, this bill has nothing to do with Israel or products made in Israel. It is about one thing only: reversing nearly five decades of unbroken U.S. policy opposing settlements built by Israel in territories it occupied in the 1967 war.  

Cotton’s bill is just the latest salvo in a broader campaign, taking place both in Washington and in state capitals, to exploit concerns about BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel), in order to legitimize settlements.

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Michael Sfard in Haaretz: The Israeli Occupation Will End Suddenly

The strength of organizations working to end the occupation and their supporters is greater than we think.

One day the occupation will end. It will probably happen in one fell swoop. And when it happens, it will suddenly emerge that everyone was against it. That the politicians had actually worked to end it, that the journalists strove indefatigably to expose its injustices, that the cultural institutions condemned it courageously and that Israeli academia was a center of persistent resistance, from which the struggle drew ideological and moral backing. In short, everyone was part of the Resistance.

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APN's Lara Friedman for JTA: No comparison between Israeli NGO bill and US law

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is trying to sell the argument that her pending “NGO transparency” bill is no different than a U.S. law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. In reality, the two pieces of legislation are worlds apart in intent and effect, and the differences go to the heart of the problems with Shaked’s bill.

First, FARA applies to all foreign funding – governmental and private – of U.S. persons or organizations, ensuring transparency about any foreign donor’s efforts to sway U.S. policy. The Shaked bill applies only to funding from foreign governments – funding that is already transparent under existing Israeli law. The measure does not apply to funding from nongovernmental foreign sources.

This distinction is neither accidental nor trivial. Israel’s progressive nongovernmental organizations are the main recipients of funding from foreign governments that support the progressive, democratic values embodied by these NGOs. Shaked, who has made clear her desire to quash dissent, has crafted her bill to target only these NGOs while permitting those that promote agendas more in line with her own views to continue to operate as always. The discrimination implicit in this bill is so clear that even Israeli Knesset member Michael Oren, a former U.S. ambassador, has criticized its “one-sided exposure, which ignores the funding sources of extreme-right nonprofits.”

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Ben Nun- Newsweek- 1-2016Unable to deliver real solutions to the ongoing violence, Israeli governments have been trying for years to blame the messengers rather than take responsibility for their own policies. Last week, this practice was taken to the next level when a ministerial committee approved the NGO bill, proposed legislation targeting specifically peace and human rights organizations.

Under the pretense of increasing transparency on donations received from foreign governments, the bill’s actual intention is to delegitimize any organization that criticizes the government's policies. According to the proposed legislation, members of left-leaning organizations, who already submit quarterly reports on donations from foreign governments, will be obligated to wear special badges and to identify themselves as “foreign agents.”

If the proposed legislation is truly aimed at increasing transparency, it must require all NGOs to expose their funding sources, instead of denouncing left-wing organizations, which are already held to higher transparency standards.

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Peace Now report: Who is Funding Israeli Right-Wing NGOs?

News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:

94% of the donations of 9 well-known right-wing NGOs are nontransparent

 In light of the NGO bill, a Peace Now study examining the funding sources and transparency of 9 right-wing pro-settler NGOs finds that 94% of the donations to these organizations in the years 2006-2013 were nontransparent, meaning that there is no possibility to identify their original donor. The study also finds that the majority of the funding to the organizations examined originated from private individuals abroad, arriving mainly through U.S. organizations with a tax-deductible donations status. Many other millions of shekels originated from Israeli taxpayers' money through government ministries and an local municipalities. 

Peace Now: The NGO bill, also known as the "transparency bill" has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with the delegitimation of organizations criticizing the government's policies. If the Minister of Justice is truly interested in transparency, she must first and foremost promote legislation requiring right-wing organizations to expose the millions they receive from private donors abroad and from the state budget.
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