APN's "3 Weeks of Contemplation" - Week 1 Book Recommendations

Week 1 Books - Exposing the divisions that exist in Israeli society between different ethnic, religious, and political groups.

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APN's "3 Weeks of Contemplation" - Book Recommendations

Americans for Peace Now invites you to join us in “Three Weeks of Contemplation: Hate, Peace, and Reconciliation,” featuring a hand-picked selection of current books by Israeli and Palestinian writers.

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My Jewish Journey, My APN Story

Stephanie Breitsman

As I get ready for Middlebury College’s summer Hebrew immersion course in preparation for beginning rabbinical school in fall 2019, I am reflecting on my APN story.

For pretty much everyone I grew up with, my Presbyterian parents in particular, my decision to become a rabbi comes as a surprise. A few years ago, before I came to work at APN, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine it myself.

I began attending Hillel events in college at the same time that I started studying Arabic and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Initially, I found it difficult to embrace conversion wholeheartedly because of the conflict between my spiritual and cultural attraction to Judaism and my strong criticism of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

While I was living in the West Bank in the summer of 2014, the IDF set off sound bombs and tear gas outside my window as it raided Ramallah at 3 am every night for a week. That first night, I was more afraid than I had ever been, but the next day at work I realized this was normal for my Palestinian colleagues. While strongly committed to Jewish values, I was deeply conflicted about embracing Judaism when I saw, up close, such abuses committed by the Jewish state. And as a person committed to ending the occupation, would I be accepted by the Jewish community?

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Whose side are you on?

Take a look at this photo.

It shows an Israeli police officer suffering a head injury yesterday in the West Bank, just south of Bethlehem. Who attacked him? A Palestinian? Hamas? No. Rock-throwing Jewish settlers. 

These hoodlums were part of a crowd of hundreds of right-wing zealots who gathered at Netiv Haavot, an illegal outpost, to protect buildings that settlers built on stolen land, privately owned by Palestinians.

Yesterday’s clashes went on for hours. Settlers gathered in the structures and on roofs, pelting police officers with rocks, bottles, and paint canisters.

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We could've told you about Roseanne

After Roseanne Barr's vile, racist tweet yesterday, ABC has cancelled her show. But we at APN know well - and personally - about Roseanne's vitriol on Twitter.

Chuck Schumer

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COMING SOON: A game-changer on West Bank settlements

Americans for Peace Now has exciting news: our new Facts on the Ground map app is almost here!

Facts on the Ground is a game-changing tool for educating the world about Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Anyone with an iPhone or Android phone can instantly access comprehensive, up-to-date information, statistics, and analysis on this topic. This one-of-a-kind tool is fueled directly by data collected on the ground by Peace Now (Shalom Achshav), the world's most reputable source on West Bank settlements.

Facts on the Ground can play a vital role in helping anyone understand how settlements prevent peace, and what must be done to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Palestinians have it circled on their calendars

Luis LainerLag B’omer is coming – the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot, a day traditionally for throwing off mourning and instead celebrating with music, weddings and bonfires. Lag B’omer is a minor holiday that not many American Jews are aware of. Paradoxically, Palestinians in the West Bank town of Hebron have it circled on their calendars.

It has become a Lag B'omer custom of some Jewish settlers in Hebron to vandalize and loot Palestinian property for wood with which to build bonfires. And unlike the Israeli military authority, which regularly shuts down the West Bank during Jewish holidays to minimize the possibility of a terrorist attack, the Palestinians don’t have the means to protect their communities come Lag B'omer.

Support APN and help fight back against extremist "price tag" attacks.

As Jews and friends of Israel, we recognize the dread of an approaching holiday. Those closures during Passover and other holidays are Israel’s response to horrific terrorist attacks like the suicide bombing by Hamas of a seder at a Netanya hotel in 2002. The attack killed 30 Jews and wounded 140. A similar attack was perpetrated in 2006, killing 11 and wounding 60 at another Passover seder. A number of years have passed since an attack like this has occurred, but the threat remains.

Still, we can’t leave unremarked this twisted Lag B'omer practice of terrorizing Palestinians on a day dedicated to joy and relief. Preying on Palestinians has become so routine that it is no longer newsworthy. But this can’t be the way of Jewish “celebration”: breaking into Palestinian shops and homes, damaging and looting them. And these can’t be the actions of God-fearing Jews – terrorizing Palestinian and Israel Arab towns by torching cars, slashing tires, and spray painting Stars of David and racist slogans, as was done as recently as a week ago.

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This Passover, jump into the fray

Moving forward can involve risk. But standing still can bring disaster.

As the Exodus story tells us, the Israelites were faced with a choice at the Sea of Reeds: Enter the waters or stand still and be slaughtered by Pharaoh’s fast-approaching army.

Only one Israelite—Nachshon—had the foresight and the courage to jump into the sea. Jewish tradition says that once he moved forward, the waters parted and Israel was able to walk on dry land to safety.

It sometimes seems that it will take a similar miracle to bring peace to the Middle East.

But Peace Now (Shalom Achshav), the veteran Israeli activist organization, and its U.S. counterpart Americans for Peace Now (APN), aren’t relying on miracles. We believe in moving forward. The wind may not be at our backs, but standing still is not an option.

This Passover, you may observe a traditional Seder and may be blessed by the company of children or grandchildren. They may ask the four questions, one of which is: “Why is tonight different from all other nights?” Yes, we eat matzo; yes, we dip twice; yes, we remember the stranger, but tonight we can no longer afford to be bystanders—we all must jump into the fray.

We “jump” to feed the hungry, to defend the refugee, to protect the environment—now it’s time to “jump” for Israel’s secure future. We want you to be able to tell your family how you helped Israel be the best it can be. Helping ensure a peaceful and secure future for Israel and preserve the Zionist dream does not mean asking how Israel can survive with a Palestinian state by its side. It means asking how Israel can survive without one.

Hineni, here I am. Because of the damaging effects of occupation, I’ll jump. Because settlers build on private Palestinian land, I’ll jump. Because evicting Palestinians from the homes where they have spent their entire lives is dehumanizing, I’ll jump. Because Israel may annex settlements in the West Bank in defiance of international law, I’ll jump.

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When every day is topsy-turvy: Purim 2018

On Purim, which begins this Wednesday evening, Jews retell the story of a world turned upside down. Haman’s plan to kill the Jews of Persia is thwarted by Esther, the Jewish orphan who became Queen. Haman is hanged on the gallows he had planned to use to kill Esther’s cousin Mordechai. The king is foolish, the advisers wicked, the heroes weak, and the powerful defeated.

We don’t need Purim to remind us that the world is topsy-turvy.

A TV reality show personality is President of the United States. He and his Administration avoid saying “two-state solution,” let alone leading serious efforts to help bring it to fruition. President Trump unilaterally changes the US position on Jerusalem and declares he has solved this complex issue for the Israelis and Palestinians. Ardent US supporters of Israeli settlements are responsible for brokering Middle East peace. One of them, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, publicly contradicts US policy.

The Purim story encourages us to flip the script.

APN does this by fighting for a world in which our leaders are responsible, strategic, and bold in moving forward toward peace and security for Israel via a two-state solution. In partnership with Shalom Achshav in Israel, APN works every day to make that world a reality by fighting the occupation and the settlement enterprise - a catastrophe for Israel in moral, political, security, legal, and economic terms.

APN illustrates how settlements corrupt Israeli society while obstructing peace with Palestinians. We shine a spotlight on how the Trump Administration is allowing Netanyahu’s right-wing government to gradually annex the West Bank and create a one-state reality, in contravention of international law and the national interests of both the US and Israel.

Please support the work of Americans for Peace Now in righting this topsy-turvy world.

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Imagine this was your family

evacuation collage

This is the reality of Palestinian life in East Jerusalem today.

76% of all Palestinians in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line, including 83% of Palestinian children. Only 41% of Palestinian children are enrolled in official municipal schools, with 33% dropping out before 12th grade. And over a third of residents are not connected to Jerusalem's water infrastructure.*

Beyond those grim statistics lies the additional threat of home eviction – the fate that befell Mohammad Shamasneh and his family. After 45 years, through no fault of their own, the Shamasneh family was thrown out of their own house. They were forced to watch helplessly as right-wing settler ideologues occupied the home in which multiple generations of their family has been raised. Their lives have been upended ever since.

Reports have shown that at least 180 Palestinian families are at risk of eviction, with most of these cases initiated by settler organizations.

Through our "Shelter for the Shamasnehs" campaign, Americans for Peace Now is working to right this injustice. With over $4,000 raised so far, we're well on our way to achieving this goal – but we need your help. Join us and help make a real difference on the ground by finding a new home for the Shamasneh family.

(*Association for Civil Rights in Israel)

(**UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)

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