The Forward: "Business Coalition Pushes Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu To Forge Peace Deal"

Uncertainty Dampens Growth on Both Sides of Green Line

By Nathan Jeffay

The latest coalition of Israelis and Palestinians hoping to affect the settlement of the conflict is not your usual bunch of peace activists. They are wealthy businesspeople who work in a broad range of sectors, from construction to high-tech. They don’t need to struggle to be heard in the halls of power — they already have the ears of everyone from Israel’s prime minister to the leaders of Hamas.

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Steven Kaplan and Sanford Weiner in the Jewish Journal: A victory against anti-Israel BDS

Kaplan_Weiner_JewishJournal

Israelis and supporters of Israel are increasingly concerned about international pressure — and with good reason. There was last year’s directive from the European Union, which threatened important Israel-EU cooperation; the recent uproar about SodaStream, which brought Israel unflattering media attention; and the almost daily news of some European country singling out an Israeli company for negative treatment.

Are these victories for the global BDS movement — the movement calling on people and nations to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel? Absolutely not. 

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SodaStream, an Israeli company with a production facility in a West Bank settlement, made headlines recently due to the superstar status of its spokeswoman, Scarlett Johansson. But the real stars of the Israeli business community are those who joined with their Palestinian counterparts in an effort to use their economic heft to urge political leaders to achieve a two-state solution as soon as possible.

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The New York Times -Thomas L. Friedman: Israel’s Big Question

I’ve written a series of columns from Israel in the past two weeks because I believe that if Secretary of State John Kerry brings his peace mission to a head and presents the parties with a clear framework for an agreement, Israel and the Jewish people will face one of the most critical choices in their history. And when they do, all hell could break loose in Israel. It is important to understand why.

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The New York Times - Roger Cohen: The B.D.S. Threat

Secretary of State John Kerry caused outrage in Israel recently when he declared: “For Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary.”

Members of the Israeli government were indignant. Israel, they declared, will not negotiate under pressure. Advice givers, stay away! But Kerry was only repeating what Israel’s own finance minister, Yair Lapid, had already said: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement is beginning to bite.

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A flawed but compelling narrative has taken root in the debate over SodaStream. It's the story of the politically moderate Israeli businessman building bridges to peace by providing Palestinians good employment. What could be the problem with that?

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APN CEO Debra DeLee in The Forward: Love Israel. Oppose BDS. Reject SodaStream.

As counterintuitive as it may be, when you see Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl ad on Sunday, promoting a product that lets you make carbonated drinks at home, try to see through bubbles and think about the future of the Middle East.

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YNet - Nahum Barnea: In the land of sin and hatred

Op-ed: Instead of whining about Palestinian incitement, ministers should discuss state of incitement in Israel

On Sunday, Israel's cabinet dedicated its weekly meeting to an important issue. Not important - critical. Yossi Kuperwasser, the director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, found the time to attend the meeting and even brought along a presentation. Not just a presentation - an audio-visual presentation, with both images and sounds. Thanks to the presentation, songs in Arabic were played in a cabinet meeting for the first time in history.

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Haaretz- Peter Beinart: In 2014, American Jewish leaders might lose control of the Israel debate

Washington's failure to clinch two-state deal would shift Palestinian focus to international groups and college campuses where organized Jewry holds little sway.

In the spirit of the season, let me hazard a prediction: 2014 will be the year that America's Israel debate begins to pass the organized American Jewish community by.

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Yossi Alpher: How Middle East regional dynamics affect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Israeli-Palestinian relations - whether they take the form of intifada, peace process or merely the "status quo" - have never developed in a vacuum. Not only have interested third parties such as the U.S., European Union and Norway been involved, but so have immediate neighbours like Egypt and Jordan. The Arab League has also been involved, usually with Saudi urging, in initiatives like the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the earlier 1982 Fahd plan.

More at the at the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center

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