Action Alert: Tell Trump to fire Ambassador Friedman

Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was controversial from the get-go. Friedman, in a column he ran at the extremist right-wing Israeli publication Arutz 7, referred to our J Street colleagues as “far worse than kapos,” accused President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry of “blatant anti-Semitism” and called the two-state solution “a scam” and “an illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem.”

Then, at his confirmation hearing, he promised concerned senators that things will change once he enters the embassy in Tel Aviv.

That did not happen. In two recent interviews, one with the Jerusalem Post and one with Israel’s Walla news site, Friedman expressed views and positions that are a blatant departure from long-held US policy positions. In his September 28th Walla interview, referring to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Friedman said: “I think that the settlements are a part of Israel.”

Tell President Trump that this is not acceptable: he must fire David Friedman.

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After Las Vegas Mass Shooting, Prayers Are Not Enough

Last night’s act of terror in Las Vegas has left all of us at Americans for Peace Now heartbroken. As we watch the toll of dead and injured climb, following a depraved gunman’s barrage of bullets aimed at concert goers, our prayers go out to the victims fighting for their lives and to the families of those confirmed dead. Las Vegas Mayor Carol Goodman no doubt spoke in understatement when she said, “It’s been a hugely traumatic time for all of us.”

We also recognize that our response must go beyond prayer. Just as we do not confine our response to prayer when it comes to tragic developments in Israel and the occupied territories, Americans cannot hope that prayer will be enough to end the epidemic of gun violence gripping our country. We must help our politicians find the will to act to protect the lives of those who would otherwise become the victims of the next American tragedy.

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Hard Questions, Tough Answers (10.3.17) - Autumn recommended reading about the Middle East

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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 suggests readings for understanding the historical backdrop of the current chaos in the Arab Middle East, readings that provide contemporary, historical and political backdrop, and books about Israel.

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Ambassador David Friedman's Statements - from Bad to Worse

If yesterday’s comments by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman were bad, today’s are even worse. When we heard yesterday’s comments, based on a snippet of his televised interview with Israel’s Walla News, we issued a statement calling on President Trump to fire him.

Yesterday’s snippet released by Walla focused on Friedman’s absurd assertions that West Bank settlements are “a part of Israel” and that Israel is only occupying two percent of the West Bank.

Today’s comments, coming from the full, 14-minute interview with Friedman, are in some ways even more alarming, because they seem to suggest that Friedman is confused not only about the facts but also about his role as ambassador.

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APN to Trump: Fire Ambassador Friedman!

Washington, DC -- Americans for Peace Now (APN) is calling on President Trump to recall US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for making statements that blatantly contradict long-held United States policy, as well as objective facts and international law. Ambassador Friedman continues to damage US efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, a chief US national security interest and avowed goal of President Trump.

In a video interview with Israeli news service Walla News, referring to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Friedman said: “I think that the settlements are a part of Israel.”

Friedman added that since the United Nations adopted Resolution 242 in 1967, “the expectation” was “that Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn’t need for peace and security.” According to Friedman, “There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank, and I think that’s exactly what Israel has done.” Friedman further asserted that Israel is “only occupying two percent of the West Bank.”

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Peace Now Protests Israeli Government's pro-Occupation Rally

Peace Now organized a vociferous demonstration on September 27th, in the West Bank to protest a government-organized rally celebrating fifty years of Israeli rule there. Dozens of activists chanted anti-occupation slogans and beat drums, driving the message that the occupation was not something to celebrate.

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Press Release: Don't Penalize Palestinians for Interpol Recognition

Americans for Peace Now (APN) rejects calls by senior members of the Israeli cabinet to penalize the Palestinian Authority for its move to gain membership in Interpol, the international police organization.

The move passed today at the Interpol General Assembly in Beijing by a majority of 75 member-states, with 24 opposing and 34 abstaining. Subsequently, senior members of the Israeli government called for various punitive measured to be taken against the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a broad range of issues.

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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 the odds that the two geographical parts of the Palestinian Authority will be reunited; where Israel stands on the reunification issue; a new era of Israeli-Arab relations; the upcoming vote among the Kurds of northern Iraq for forming a separate Kurdish state; and where Israel stands on Kurdish independence.

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I was a radical settler

Rosh Hashanah + Yovel 2017

My name is Shabtay Bendet. I am forty-four. I have six children and I live in Jaffa.

I recently joined Peace Now as the director of the Settlement Watch team, after several years of working as the West Bank correspondent of Walla, Israel’s most popular news site.

This move, for me, is a closure of sorts. I see it as a tikkun, repairing a chapter in my life in which I was a settler and took part in the injustices that West Bank Palestinians suffer as a result of the occupation and the settlement enterprise.

About 20 years ago, with an eight-month-old daughter, I decided to move with my family to establish the first unauthorized outpost in the West Bank, Rahelim. During the years we lived in the Occupied Territories, I worked in the adjacent settlement of Yitzhar, studied at the Joseph's Tomb yeshiva in Nablus, and worked in agriculture near the illegal outpost of Shvut Rachel, in areas that paved the way for the establishment of more outposts. In fact, during those years, I devoted my life, my whole life, to activity (today, perhaps, I would call it being an activist) in order to advance the ideology in which I believed.

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The Berkshire Edge - EDITORIAL: Neal surprisingly unschooled on free-speech issues

It has been said before that — and forgive us for channeling F. Scott Fitzgerald — politicians are different from you and me. Nowhere is the simple maxim of the Lost Generation’s preeminent writer more evident than in U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s performance during Friday’s town-hall-style forum at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Click here to see the full forum on video.

The congressman is a smooth-talking operator fluent in a variety of issues, most notably tax policy — an expertise borne no doubt from his 24 years on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. But despite his extensive knowledge of tariffs and revenue raising, Neal showed a troubling unfamiliarity with free speech issues in fielding questions from audience members about his sponsorship of a bill that raises obvious First Amendment questions.

Neal co-sponsored a highly controversial bill, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which opposes a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution urging countries to pressure companies to divest from Israel. The controversy lies mostly in the second part of the bill, which prohibits Americans engaged in interstate or foreign commerce from supporting an international boycott of Israel. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to a $1 million and 20 years in prison.

On its face, the prohibition against participating in boycotts sounds like a glaring departure from the American tradition of free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union has attacked the bill as “antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment” and urged the Senate to reject it.

On the other hand, some reputable legal scholars have argued that “federal law has for decades generally banned participation in boycotts of friendly nations” and that such bans only place prohibitions on commercial activity, not on actual speech.

Be that as it may, Cheryl Hogan of Charlemont pleaded with Neal to reconsider his support of the legislation, noting to much applause that she sees “that law not only as really stepping on our constitutional rights to free speech, but also attacking the one powerful nonviolent resistance movement that there is to try to change what we see happening in the Middle East.”

Neal’s response was revealing. He said he would ask Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) for “clarification” in order “to eliminate the idea that there might be a problem with free speech.” Neal added that he had read the Congressional Research Service’s report on the legislation and “and I came to the conclusion that there is no threat to free speech” because “this is about commercial activity.”

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