On Thursday, July 21st, Americans for Peace Now received one of two inaugural Narrative Champion Awards from New Story Leadership. NSL brings together young emerging Palestinian and Israeli leaders in order to train them into a team ready to help build a better future for their two communities by giving them an experience of living, working and learning together over a summer in Washington DC using the transformative power of stories.
APN's Lara Friedman, director of policy and government relations for Americans for Peace Now, joined a panel with Joseph Berman, Heather Hurlburt, and Yousef Munayyer, and moderated by Mitchell Plitnick on Saturday July 16th, at 9am, to have a constructive conversation on what it means to be progressive on Israel and Palestine
In the Spring of 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed himself as a partisan Republican in a way that he hadn’t publicly before. This created the space for “mainstream” progressivism regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Put another way, it became more comfortable to identify as an American whose progressive values apply to United States politics as well as the situation in the Middle East. But what does that mean? From Israeli settlement expansion to the BDS movement to the peace process to human rights, the progressive space has paved several paths toward the common goal of peace.
It’s been eight years since APN first partnered with New Story Leadership (NSL), a program that brings Israeli and Palestinian fellows to Washington for six weeks of leadership-skills development. The program includes an internship with a Washington-based nonprofit or a congressional office and intense dialogue to foster a better understanding of the other side to the conflict. For most fellows, this is the first chance they have to engage in intense conversations with young people from the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, to listen, reach out, forge relationship and often make friends. The program has given birth to several Israeli-Palestinian nonprofit partnerships.
Each summer in the past eight years, APN has hosted a couple of NSL fellows – an Israeli and a Palestinian – sometimes in partnership with the American Task Force on Palestine. And each year, we host the group for an introductory meeting to tell the fellows about APN and Peace Now. On Friday, July 1, we got together at our office with the NSL fellows and staff for what was supposed to be a short introductory meeting, and turned into a fascinating two-hour discussion about efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace and prospects for a two-state solution.
APN intern Aparna Clarke attended a June 30, 2016 panel discussion on America’s future Middle East policy, following November’s presidential elections. Following is her report:
What kind of Middle East policy is the next U.S. administration expected to adopt?
The Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) brought together on Wednesday, June 29th four leading Washington scholars on Middle East Policy to consider this question. The panelists were Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus of the Stimson Center, Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives and Distinguished Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Manal Omar, Associate Vice President for the Middle East and Africa at the United States Institute of Peace, and Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and non-resident senior fellow at the Brooking Institute’s Center for Middle East Policy. The discussion was moderated by ACW’s Executive Director, Khalil Jahshan.
All four panelists acknowledged the volatile and troubling current climate of the Middle East, emphasizing both the challenges that the next President will face and the necessity for him or her to exercise prudence with regards to policy implementation.
On Wednesday, June 29th, APN intern Rebeca Feldman attended a panel discussion on the role of Syrian women journalist-activists. Following is her report:
The Middle East Institute hosted an event entitled: Media Activism Amid Civil War: The Role of Syrian Women Journalists. The event, moderated by Kate Seelye, Senior Vice President of the Middle East Institute, featured three speakers with vastly different backgrounds and experiences of the Syrian media. However, all three were unanimous in their belief in a free and empowered media for a democratic Syria, which can be achieved by making the media a voice of the people, representing all classes, communities, and genders.
From June 16-26, 2016, Israeli security expert Yossi Alpher, pictured on the right with APN President and CEO Debra DeLee , spoke at APN sponsored events in New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and as the keynote speaker for the APN Luncheon in the Berkshire Mountains in Western MA.
The tour came shortly after the release of Alpher's new book, "No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine".
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On Tuesday, June 21st, APN and New Israel Fund co-hosted a a briefing from security expert Yossi Alpher, who was in Washington DC promoting his new book, “No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine.”
Alpher focused on the disastrous impact of the peace impasse with the Palestinians and the dangerous slippery slope Israel and the Palestinians are on, zeroing in on the need for all parties, including global think tanks and policy planners as well as Diaspora Jewish communities, to adopt a new agenda that recognizes the emerging reality and asks how to manage the slippery slope (rather than a non-existent peace process) and to at least delay Israel’s descent towards the status of ugly bi-national state and international pariah.
Hagai Elad, executive director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, on a short visit to Washington DC, was hosted Friday June 17th for a roundtable briefing by the New Israel Fund. NIF is one of B’Tselem’s chief funders.
B’Tselem, one of the most prominent human rights organizations in Israel, works tirelessly to inform the Israeli public about human rights violations of Palestinian civilians under Israel’s occupation in the West Bank.
Elad elaborated on B’Tselem’s recent decision to stop referring complaints to the Israeli military law enforcement system, whose role is to handle cases of mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli Defence Force soldiers. Elad explained that the whitewashing employed by the military law enforcement system has made it extremely difficult for B’Tselem to follow through with investigations: only 3% of cases filed by B’Tselem go to trial. This percentage is so small that even the number of files misplaced and lost in the system is higher.
On Sunday, June 5th, Americans for Peace Now joined the Progressive Coalition at this year's Celebrate Israel Parade. Although the weather was damp, spirits were not as we joined with T'ruah, Partners for Progressive Israel, and New Israel Fund to show the world that there is a strong and vibrant progressive community supporting Israel and thousands of Israelis working for a just and peaceful society.
Thousands of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest the appointment of Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman as Israel’s new defense minister. Protesters carried banners denouncing extremism, racism, and violence in Israel, as well as signs proclaiming “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” and “Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples.” Marchers were joined by Knesset members, including Meretz leader Zehava Galon and Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh. Peace Now organized the rally together with Meretz and the Joint Arab List.