July 18, 2016 - Deterring human rights advocacy in Israel; terror in Nice; coup in Turkey

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses what’s wrong with the Knesset bill passed July 11th, that stigmatizes human rights NGOs (non-governmental organizations, or non-profits) in Israel by obliging them to constantly and blatantly publicize funding they receive from foreign governments; truck attack in Nice on Bastille Day, July 14; and what was relevant about the failed military coup in Turkey.

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David Bernstein has written an articulate defense of those who, like him, refuse to denounce the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, or in some extreme cases even admit that an occupation exists. (“Why I Don’t Call Israel Out on the Occupation,” Opinion, July 8) He argues that simply calling for an immediate end to the Occupation does not recognize the complexity of the situation and will not bring peace and security to Israel.

Sadly, however, my friend David has missed the mark. The occupation can be denounced without calling for immediate withdrawal.

The occupation is evil. It is immoral. It is un-Jewish. When I carried my JNF blue “pushka” on the streets of Brooklyn as a child, when I literally leapt for joy as I listened to the announcement of results of the UN vote in 1947, when I worked, together with David Bernstein at the American Jewish Committee and now at the JCPA, and as chair of Americans for Peace Now, for the safety and the security of the State of Israel I did not dream of a Jewish nation that would be the oppressor of another people.

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The fourth in a series of security validators for APN is Gen. Colin Powell, American statesman and  retired four-star general in the United States Army, 65th United States Secretary of State,  former National Security Advisor (1987–1989), former Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993).

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Brookings2.320x320On Monday, July 11 2016, the Brookings Institute published the results of the most recent surveys on American attitudes toward the Middle East, conducted by Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow. The newest poll was conducted within two weeks of the shootings in Orlando, focusing on American attitudes toward Muslims and Islam. These results were compared to those of similar polls carried out in November 2015 and May 2016 to see whether there has been a shift in public opinion since two important landmarks: The most vital months of the presidential election campaigns, and the Orlando massacre.

Telhami noted that the results of the most recent polls were unexpected: despite the extremely inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric of the presidential campaigns, as well as the fact that the Orlando shootings were carried out by a radicalized Muslim, more people tended to be favorable toward both the Muslim religion and the Muslim people in the May and June 2016 polls. In November 2015, 53% of those questioned responded that they held a favorable attitude toward the Muslim people. That percentage increased to 58% in May 2016 (pre-Orlando) and then to 62% in June 2016 (post-Orlando). This trend also repeated itself with regards to attitudes toward the Muslim religion: 37% were favorable toward the Muslim religion in November 2015, 42% in May 2016 and 44% in June 2016. It was also encouraging to see that the proportion of Americans who identify with the position that Islamic and Western religious and social traditions are incompatible with each other has decreased from 39% in November 2015 to 34% in June 2016.

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Don't Let Them Silence Peace Now

censored!Last night, Netanyahu’s right wing government pushed a law through the Knesset to silence dissent. Although it was touted to the public as a matter of transparency, the reality is that this law is aimed at Peace Now and other progressive groups.

Never mind that all non-profit organizations receiving funding from foreign governments must already disclose all such funding. Never mind that NGOs on the left, which are already transparent about their donors, are publicly branded, in effect, as agents of foreign governments. Never mind that right-wing groups – whose agendas align comfortably with that of the current Israeli government and who receive millions of dollars in donations from foreign individuals and entities – are able to keep their donors secret.

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APN condemns new anti-democratic Israeli law

Israel’s Peace Now Movement to Challenge New NGO Law before Israel’s Supreme Court 

Washington, DC -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in strongly condemning the new NGO Law, adopted last night by the Knesset, as a blatant violation of freedom of expression. APN supports Peace Now’s intention to challenge the new law before Israel’s Supreme Court. 

As Peace Now points out, this law is tailored specifically to target only peace and human rights organizations. It intends to divert the Israeli public discourse away from the occupation, and to silence opposition to the government's policies. 

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On July 6, 2016 the High Planning Committee of the Civil Administration convened in order to discuss and approve construction plans in the settlements. The committee discussed the approval of 531 housing units in Ma'ale Adumim and the plan to retroactively legalize the illegal outpost of Horesh Yaron, which is located west of Ramallah. Since the beginning of 2016 construction plans for 1,823 housing units in the settlements were promoted. out of the 1,823, 314 are retroactive plans for housing units which were built illegally. It is important to note that the Quartet Report's criticism on Israel's settlement policy focused specifically on retroactive legalization of illegal outposts and illegal construction. 

Additionally, yesterday, July 10 2016, the government approved a transfer approximately 50 Million Shekels to Kiryat Arba and Hebron.

Peace Now: The promotion of plans in Ma'ale Adumim and the retroactive legalization of an illegal outpost are a slap in the face of the Quartet. Netanyahu is signaling to Israel's most important allies that he is not interested in peace and two states but rather in the continuation of the occupation. 

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses what’s behind the flurry of diplomatic and strategic activity, including Israel’s rapprochement with Turkey, Netanyahu's meeting in East Africa with seven regional leaders, and the Egyptian foreign minister visiting Israel for the first time in nine years; the strategic backdrop in East Africa; Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry's presumed discussion with Netanyahu about Israeli-Turkish relations; Shukry and Netanyahu's statements Sunday concerning the need to renew some sort of Israeli-Palestinian peace or at least confidence-building process; whether the right-wing Netanyahu government with its strong pro-settler element really has anything to talk about with the Arabs concerning the Palestinian issue; and what’s next regarding establishing Israeli spheres of strategic influence in the region and beyond, and what might this signify for the Palestinian issue.

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United_Nations_Security_Council320x265Last Wednesday, the Israeli government announced plans for hundreds of new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In response, the U.S. Department of State issued a sharply-worded statement pointing out how destructive these new settlement plans are.

State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said, "…this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution…

He went on to state, unequivocally: “We oppose steps like these, which we believe are counterproductive to the cause of peace. In general, we’re deeply concerned about settlement construction and expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Click here to thank President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their unwavering stance opposing settlements and urge them to support action in the United Nations Security Council to advance the two-state solution.

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APN’s Proud Record on BDS

As an organization dedicated to peace and security for Israel – and committed to the belief that Israel has a right to exist and that its legitimacy as a state is beyond question – APN has wrestled with the challenge posed by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). We have studied both the BDS movement and the efforts to combat it. We have listened closely to arguments and narratives of BDS proponents and detractors. And while APN firmly opposes BDS targeting Israel, we have concluded that many anti-BDS efforts are misguided and counter-productive.

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