peace parsha feature 1 logoOn Wednesday (Sept. 23) as Jews end their Yom Kippur fast, Muslims will begin the Eid al-Adha holiday. Imam Haytham Younis and Rabbi Alana Suskin met for coffee and then exchanged the following email dialogue about the two holidays’ convergence and the meaning of a shared story that lies at the intersection of both faiths.

Suskin: It is a rare occurrence for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice) to fall back-to-back, but seems appropriate somehow. Just a week ago, on Rosh Hashanah, we read the Torah portion relating the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son — the Jewish perspective of the same story that underlies Eid al-Adha. For Jews, this is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac at God’s command (stopped, of course, at the last moment, by an angel sent by God).

Younis: Yes. Eid al-Adha similarly commemorates the obedience of Abraham and his son to the command of God in fulfilling the sacrifice, as well as the observance of the pilgrimage to the House of God (the Kaaba) in Mecca, which, we believe, was established by Abraham. According to the Quran, the son involved in the sacrifice however, was Ishmael, not Isaac.

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You have probably watched the viral video of the Palestinian women snatching a Palestinian child from the hands of an Israeli soldier, as he was trying to arrest the boy for rock-throwing.

If you missed it, no worries: as long as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank continues, you will have many more opportunities to watch similarly disturbing images. Because as long as the occupation continues, and combat soldiers are sent to police an occupied hostile civilian population, this ugliness is unavoidable.

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Wild Settlements

The murders of toddler Ali Dawabsha and his father Saed generated an uproar. The fire set to the house in the Palestinian village of Duma with its dwellers inside, led to the death of two and the mortal injury of two others. However, this horrid act was not committed in a void. Since 1999, when the illegal outposts began appearing in the nearby “Shiloh Valley,” the region has undergone a process of increased Israeli control and Palestinian ousting.

This objective is often achieved through violence as a political tool for altering the status quo in favor of the settlers. This process is made possible, inter alia, by the fact that the region is a lawless area. Throughout the years, wild outposts’ settlers have enjoyed ongoing support from the authorities, whether by act or omission: a local authority allocating financial support, government offices build and provide infrastructure, enforcement agencies avoid enforcing the planning and construction laws, security forces do not only protect illegal outpost settlers but also help them remove Palestinians from the farmlands, even when it is their personal land. Changes in this area in the years after the wild outposts were established demonstrate that the settlers’ presence in the area leads to ongoing thievery and acts of violence.


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 silverberg-more-recentThe debate regarding the proposed nuclear deal with Iran reminded me of a meeting I participated in with Daniel Kurtzer, then U.S. Ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush, at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in 2007. Though I’ve been to Israel several times, both before and after, our meeting stood out in my memory, helping me to separate politics from facts in considering the proposed nuclear deal.

The purpose of my 2007 visit to Israel was to join a delegation from Americans for Peace Now in a series of meetings with politicians, experts, analysts, and activists from across the spectrum of Israeli public and political opinion. Our group heard of the many challenges and possible solutions to the significant security, demographic, water, and civil issues that Israel faced. This trip to Israel and our meetings left me better informed, and even more motivated to devote my energies to defending Israel’s security and its essential Jewish and democratic character. Toward the end of our weeklong visit we met with Ambassador Kurtzer.

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There is an old truism that holds that the best defense is a good offense. Or, more colloquially, when you find yourself in hot water, flip the script and go on the attack. Allies of and apologists for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are today doing just that. They are peddling a new narrative that President Obama and others, by speaking openly and critically about the extraordinary efforts of the Israeli government and some U.S. Jewish groups to kill the Iran deal, are guilty of feeding anti-Semitism or smearing American Jews, or are unmasking themselves as anti-Semites.

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her support for the Iran nuclear deal last week — and that should come as no surprise. A thoughtful, dispassionate consideration of the agreement leads to the clear conclusion that it’s good for both the United States and for Israel.

Regrettably, however, there is tremendous pressure on the American public and on Congress to reject the deal. Some of that pressure is simply partisan: Many Republicans came out in opposition before the details were even announced.

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APN Board member Danny Goldberg in The Huffington Post: My Dad and Chuck Schumer

My father, Victor Goldberg was in 195th Field Artillery Battalion during World War Two, landing on Utah Beach nine days after D-Day. Like other members of his unit he was given Battle stars for being in five bloody battles against the Nazis in Normandy. Later he was among those American troops who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

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Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) – prominent Jewish members of Congress – announced they will oppose the deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States) to curb Iran’s nuclear program.  Earlier in the week, two other leading Jewish members of Congress, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), did likewise. All of these members of Congress should reconsider this misguided, flawed position.

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There's a lot of noise right now about the Iran nuclear deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some Jewish community organizations have declared war on the deal. They and their allies – including members of the right-wing Evangelical movement and point-scoring political partisans – are bombarding members of Congress, the public and the media with a barrage of anti-deal talking points and sound bites.
I fear that lost in this din are key facts that members of Congress – who will soon have the responsibility to vote whether to approve the deal – as well as the public at large, need to know.

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Nuanced views of Iran deal, in Yediot Ahronoth

Positive Energy

By Ariela Ringel Hoffman
Published July 17, 2015, in Yediot Ahronoth (Hebrew edition), translation by Israel News Today (INT)

The reactions were as expected: at press conferences brimming with satisfaction in the six signatory countries, particularly in the US, which spearheaded the effort, the agreement that was signed with Iran was dubbed “historic,” in the Iranian Republic people danced in the streets, made the V sign, sung songs of praise to “dear Zarif and beloved Rouhani,” while in Israel, one after the other, top officials from the security establishment faced the microphones to explain how bad the agreement is, how great the danger.

However, it turns out that there are a number of Israeli experts who think otherwise and who are also willing to say so. They are aware of the weak points of the agreement, the negative developments that it enables, but on the other hand, they point out the advantages of the new situation that has been created and the potential for positive change.

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