APN's Rosie Berman on Jewschool: The Elephant on the Bus

Shortly before I ended my sophomore year of college, I found myself in my advisor’s office with an important question:

“How can I participate in an activity when I profoundly disagree with much of its goals?”
You see, I was just about to leave for my Birthright trip, a free trip to Israel–all expenses paid–intended to strengthen the bond between young American Jews and Israel. I’d signed up because a lot of my friends were going, the Birthright coordinator at my school is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and I wanted to get back to Israel after having been there for a teen tour at the age of 17. 
Yet I had a lot of second thoughts. Since my last time there, I’d educated myself about the complex realities of the conflict. I understood that Birthright trips seek to promote an image of Israel among American Jews which, in addition to being dangerously inaccurate, disregards Israel’s democratic character in favor of promoting exclusionary nationalism. I am extremely proud of my Jewish heritage and believe the Jewish people have the right to self determination in our ancestral homeland. However, I find it difficult to reconcile myself with a conceptualization of Jewishness that contradicts both the Jewish values I grew up with and the progressive values I have come to cherish.
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Mr Ori Nir222x300Doron Rosenblum, one of Israel’s leading satirists, recently wrote on his Facebook page: “I got it. They (members of the ruling coalition) are defeating criticism and satire through using satire’s own power, as judokas do, by taking themselves beyond the absurd. Today, no satirist can outdo the insanity of" Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Indeed, Israel’s leading television satire show, Eretz Nehederet (What a Wonderful Country), recently ran a humorous quiz on its web site, in which participants were asked to guess whether quotes attributed to Likud Knesset Member Oren Hazan were true or false. I took the quiz and failed miserably. Hazan’s real quotes were much more outlandish than the made-up ones.

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Briefing call Wednesday, July 1, noon, on the power of Israeli settlers

Ami Pedahzur

Please join APN for a briefing call on Wednesday, July 1, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time with Prof. Ami Pedahzur, an expert on Israel’s radical right. The author of recent articles on the power of Israeli West Bank settlers, Pedahzur will discuss the political power of the settlers as a chief constituency of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. He will also analyze other ways in which the ideological settlers built their influence inside Israel’s establishment.

An expert on Israeli right-wing violence, Pedahzur will be available to comment on extremist West Bank settlers’ use of violence to advance their agenda.

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June 29, 2015 - Gaza


This week, Alpher discusses the key dynamics from Israel’s standpoint of the ten-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the Strip and a low-key interception and thwarting by Israel of a flotilla trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza; regarding the publication of a UN report on human rights aspects of last summer’s Gaza war, whether there is anything that Israel can constructively build on as it looks to future conflicts; whether it made sense that the Netanyahu government refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Commission and refused to allow the latest flotilla to approach the Gaza coast; and why the Gaza Strip is relatively quiet, with Hamas seemingly collaborating with Israel by pursuing the occasional more extreme Islamists who fire isolated rockets at Israel.


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June 22, 2015 - Oren, Netanyahu, and widening the gaps between strategic partners


This week, Alpher discusses whether former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren is just trying to sell his new book, or are his attacks on President Obama part of some sort of larger plan to widen the gap between the two countries; if Obama knowingly and deliberately violated previously sacred bilateral principles of “no daylight” and “no surprises;” what the American Jewish angle is; what the likely ramifications of Oren’s attacks for US-Israel relations are at the current juncture.

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Derech Haavot Ouptost320x265For the first time, the government is requesting to officially take over private Palestinian land in order to legalize an unauthorized outpost, which is built, in part, on private Palestinian land. The request was presented to the Supreme Court as part of the State's reply to a petition filed by Peace Now and Palestinian land owners, against 17 houses built on private Palestinian lands in the Derech Ha'avot Ouptost, near Bethlehem.  The first hearing of the case will take place next Monday, 22 June at 9:00am.

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APN Condemns Murder of Israeli Citizen in West Bank

Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns the murder of Dani Gonen, an Israeli citizen, in the West Bank near the settlement of Dolev, north west of Ramallah. Another Israeli was injured in the attack. APN sends its condolences to Gonen’s family and wishes quick and full recovery to the young man who was injured.

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Debra DeLee: Have they all gone mad?

Debra DeLee

What would you say if I told you that the most recent right-wing initiative to stifle progressive organizations in Israel is a Knesset bill that would compel members of such organizations to wear a special badge, “visibly, on their clothing,” when they are in the Knesset?

You’d probably tell me that it’s an ugly joke, and that even satire shouldn’t use such loaded symbols for the sake of ridicule. And I would completely agree with you.

The problem, you see, is that this is not a joke. This is not The Onion. It’s yet another example of grotesque legislative overreach by right-wing Knesset members – in this case the Jewish Home’s Bezalel Smotrich – intended to delegitimize progressive Israeli organizations, to humiliate them and to stifle them. That, of course, includes representatives of our Israeli sister-organization, Israel’s Peace Now movement, the nemesis of extremist West Bank settlers who are chiefly represented in the Knesset by Smotrich’s party.

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Peace Parsha: In Support of a Fearless Israel

Raysh Weiss holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Minnesota and is currently entering her final year of Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is the founder and director of YentaNet, a pluralistic matchmaking organization, currently serves on the Board of Directors of T'ruah, and is a co-editor of the progressive Jewish blog www.jewschool.com.

peace_parsha_logo186x140With the unrelenting blitzkrieg of violent images flooding the media from the Middle East and beyond, it can be hard not to resort to a sense of fear and hopelessness. Such images, coupled with political leadership built upon collective fear and defensiveness, engender a society that cannot move beyond immediate threats and anxieties. In constantly speaking of security, we all too easily lose sight of other rights, relegating them to a tragically secondary status.

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Press Release: APN Condemns Hate Crimes in South Carolina and Israel

Today, as we join our fellow Americans in mourning the victims of the hate-crime in Charleston, South Carolina, and as we re-commit to fighting political violence, racism, and bigotry, Americans for Peace Now (APN) also condemns the torching and vandalizing of the Church of Loaves and Fishes in Israel.

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