Michael Walzer - A Call for Truth and Peace - Rosh Hashanah 2014/5775

Michael Walzer: Time for Israel and her supporters to do cheshbon nefesh -- an accounting of the soul

 

August 2014

 

Dear Friend,

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I write this letter as a blessed cease fire is just going into effect, — not the first cease fire, and I don’t know if this one will hold. But it may be, so we all hope, that the Gaza war is over. If not now, then very soon negotiations for a lasting cease fire or even for something that might look like peace will begin. I have no sense of how these negotiations will go, but all of us at Americans for Peace Now believe that this is an opportunity for Israel to act boldly to strengthen the Palestine Authority (PA) and its new unity government and, with its help, to prevent or strongly curtail the rearmament of Hamas and to open the way for reconstruction and economic development in Gaza. But Gaza is not alone. There can’t be a legitimate PA in Gaza unless Israel is ready to work with the PA in Ramallah for the two-state solution that we have been defending for so long. When you read this, you will know whether Israel and Palestine have moved closer, or farther away, from this necessary goal.

Meanwhile, we have to think about what is happening inside Israel itself. Before the war began, we followed with horror the news of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys and then of the murder of a Palestinian boy. Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir: in our hearts, these are all “our boys,” who died deaths that no child should.

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APN Board Members Meet with President Rivlin in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel – A delegation representing American for Peace Now (APN) met yesterday with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s residence in Jerusalem.

Rivlin_Klutznick_500The delegation, headed by APN’s Chair of the Board James Klutznick (pictured with the President), congratulated Rivlin for his recent election to be Israel’s tenth president.

Rivlin expressed appreciation for APN’s support of the state of Israel and for caring about its future as a Jewish state and a democracy.

Klutznick pointed out that unlike APN and its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), President Rivlin does not support the two-state solution. President Rivlin replied that if the Israeli Knesset adopts a two-state solution he will not oppose it. “We should live here with open borders, whether in one state or in two states,” he said.

Asked how he planned to use the office of the President to advance efforts for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Rivlin replied that in his opinion, peace ought to start with improving relations between Israel’s Jewish majority and its Arab minority. He said that he hopes to use the office of the President to turn conflicts into constructive debates. 

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Everything Elliot Abrams & Uri Sadot Want You to Believe about Settlements Is Wrong

Last week, Elliot Abrams and Uri Sadot co-authored yet another defense of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s settlement policy.  At the heart of their case is this assertion:

 Israel's actual settlement construction pace has reached a historical low.  Only 507 housing units were approved for construction by Netanyahu’s government in the first six months of 2014, a 71.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2013… 

What does the data actually say? 

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September 8, 2014 - Islamic State; Status of Israel-Gaza Ceasefire

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Q. The Obama administration appears to be engaging in limited military cooperation with Iran against the Islamic State. How does this sit with Israel?

A. This development leaves the Israeli security establishment very uneasy.

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Live-tweeting of APN's Israel Study Tour (Highlights)

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APN is live-tweeting our annual study tour through Israel and the West Bank, as participants meet with politicians, journalists, and experts- all while witnessing first-hand the consequences of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. See below for highlights of the tour so far, and follow APN's twitter feed for up-to-the-second tweets, including those from Israel.

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(Translated from Hebrew and reprinted in the Commentary/Analysis section of APN's News Nosh on September 1, 2014)

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Yariv_Maariv_Collage186x140Now of all times, when a political initiative is needed, when Hamas is trying to portray itself as the savior of the Palestinian people, when Abbas was forced to deal with harsh criticism for not battling enough against Israel - now of all times, Netanyahu decides to declare 4,000 dunams (nearly 1000 acres) in Gush Etzion as state land. How will Abbas explain to his people the disregard and aggression of the Netanyahu government towards him? While Abbas tried to moderate and calm the area, Netanyahu humiliates him in front of his people.

According to international law, the decision to make land state land requires the sovereign to designate the land for the benefit of the general population in the area. It's no secret that when it comes to the Territories, the only ones to benefit from state land are settlers.

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September 2, 2014 - The Gaza war: on the absence of a viable Israeli strategy

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Q. The obvious opening question is, will the Gaza ceasefire hold?

A. At this point in time, barely a week after the ceasefire agreement and several weeks before talks on substantive issues are scheduled to begin in Cairo, three scenarios appear possible.

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APN to Obama: Reverse Israel's Confiscation of West Bank Land

Washington, Jerusalem -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), in strongly condemning the Israeli government’s decision to take over a large swath of West Bank land to expand Gva’ot, a settlement-in-the-making west of Bethlehem, as well as neighboring settlements.

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Peace Now: Unprecedented land confiscation of 4,000 dunams near Bethlehem

The Civil Administration declared 4,000 dunams (990 acres) as State Land near the settlement of Gva'ot west of Bethlehem. As far as we know, this declaration is unprecedented in its scope since the 1980's and can dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem area. For an explanation about state land declaration see here.

Gva'ot was established in 1984 as a Military Base between the Palestinian villages of Al Jab'a and Nahhalin. During the 90’s, the soldiers were replaced by Yeshiva students that occupied the 30 caravans on site, and in 1998 the site was included within the official Municipal Borders of the settlement of Alon Shvut, which is located 3 km away. Recently, some 10 families moved in Gvaot and established an education institution on site.

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APN's Lara Friedman in the Forward: Did Hamas Get Bibi to Freeze Settlements?

Settlements haven’t been in the news of late — and not simply because war pushed them off the media’s radar. They haven’t been in the news because since the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli yeshiva students back in June, there hasn’t been much settlement news to report.

True, already-approved settlement construction continued unabated (and there’s plenty of it). And settlers established several new illegal outposts. And tenders were awarded for new construction in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo. So clearly we’re not in the midst of a full-fledged settlement freeze. However, with respect to both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there is undoubtedly a semi-freeze: no major new settlement plans promoted through planning committees, very few new approvals granted and then for only a tiny number of units, and no new tenders issued.

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