Salute to Lara Friedman

Lara FriedmanAfter seventeen years at Americans for Peace Now, our longtime director of policy and government relations, Lara Friedman, is moving on to become the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), an important member in the community of Washington-based groups striving for peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.

Over the past two decades, Lara – perhaps more than anyone else – has defined APN, its footprint in DC and beyond, its mission and its role. Today, she is one of the leading US experts on all things relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is recognized as such worldwide.

Thankfully, we are not losing Lara. As she likes to point out, she is moving only several city blocks away. She will still post her invaluable weekly Legislative Roundups on our web site and keep sending them to her long list of subscribers. We are confident that Lara will further tighten the already robust cooperation between APN and FMEP.

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This week, Lara sent out a heartfelt message to our Board of Directors, saying: "(…) it has been an honor, a privilege, and a joy to be part of APN these many years. I am immeasurably proud of this organization and its work. And while leave-taking is bittersweet, I take comfort in knowing that APN will continue to be the most principled, powerful American Jewish voice working for peace and security for a democratic, progressive Israel."

We are very proud of Lara. We’re deeply grateful for all she has done for APN and for our cause.

In recognition of Lara’s immense accomplishments, with APN and for APN, please make a tax-deductible donation for Americans for Peace Now.

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Blacklisted!

I’ve been devoting much of my life to activism in support of Israel’s future wellbeing, advocating for peace and security, working to bolster Israel as a democracy and a Jewish state, living side by side in peace with a sovereign Palestinian state.

I was raised with the infant state of Israel in the late 1940s as the sixth child in the household of my parents Philip and Ethel Klutznick, activists and strong supporters of Israel’s right to exist and thrive as the homeland of the Jewish people. Dad, an international Jewish leader, advocated for the survival and the growth of Israel throughout his lifetime, but warned in the early 1980s that Israel must negotiate peace with its enemies, a common sense position of strength through peace.

Monday, Israel’s Knesset kicked me in the behind. It made me into a persona-non-grata.

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I almost lost my Hamantaschen

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Mark Bilsky"A person is obligated to get drunk on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between ‘blessed is Mordecai’ and ‘cursed is Haman’.” Purim is upon us. The wicked Haman convinces the clownish King Ahasuerus to kill all the Jews by executive order, but Queen Esther prevails upon the King to rescind this dictate and Haman is hanged.

Day after day, our current reality reads like a story concocted for Purim. We see a carnival of populist buffoonery in which reality is indistinguishable from satire. Professional comedians, who straddle the line between reality and fiction, feel like the politicians are trespassing, usurping their turf.

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The Bulldozing of Hope

Tu Bishvat 2017

Kathleen Peratis

Tu Bishvat, a holiday in which Israelis cherish the fruit of the land and plant trees, begins this Friday evening. But in the West Bank, extremist settlers have made it a national sport to destroy olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers. And when the settlers need a new bypass road, it is the government of Israel which uproots Palestinian-owned olive trees by the hundreds, as is happening these days near the West Bank town of Qalqilya – just to make more room for settlements and allow the settlers easy access to Israel.

In his meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump will have a valuable opportunity to assert long-held US policy on the settlements in particular and on America’s policy toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That includes recent approvals for constructing more than 5,500 homes in West Bank settlements, Knesset bills to annex large parts of the West Bank to Israel, and bills to retroactively legalize settlement construction that violates Israeli law.

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Keep the Momentum Going

What a week!  Less than one week ago, we cheered President Obama's bold action on the pro-peace resolution in the United Nations Security Council.  And earlier this week, Secretary of State Kerry delivered a stunning, comprehensive and courageous speech on settlements, and laid out the Obama administration's vision of a two-state solution and the imperative to achieve it.  Not only do both of these remarks and actions represent positions long-advocated by APN, but both events contain and/or reflect the significant research of Lara Friedman  (APN Policy and Legislative Director),  which documents how an Obama administration abstention would be in line with U.S. policy in the UN and which was published in the New York Times.  Both events reflect as well Lara's testimony on settlements delivered on behalf of APN to the United Nations Security Council in October.  APN worked relentlessly and effectively to make these important events happen. Help us keep the momentum going!  

DonateI encourage you to read Lara's powerful and empowering thoughts (below) on what it means to continue to fight for peace after January 20, 2017.  We can only continue our critical and singular work with your support.  Before the year is out, please make a tax-deductible donation to support our fight for peace, security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians.  

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More relevant than ever

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“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of the threat settlements pose.”

Those words were spoken yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, outlining the reasons that the U.S. chose to abstain on a U.N. Security Council vote condemning West Bank settlements. The threat to peace posed by settlements was recently made clear by settler leaders, who loudly and proudly proclaimed that “the era of a two-state solution is over.” And that was before President-elect Donald Trump nominated David Friedman, an enthusiastic supporter of settlements, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

At APN, we’re preparing to take them on.

Six years ago, APN launched a groundbreaking new feature: the “Facts on the Ground” map app. As both an iPhone app and website, Facts on the Ground has allowed anyone with an internet connection to learn about Israeli settlements in the West Bank – what and where they are, who and how many live in them, and how they relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and prospects for peace. The app has been a success, with glowing coverage and reviews from NPR, CNN, Wired, The Guardian, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, and more.

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We Wish You Light

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At this time of year, both Christians and Jews celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. This year, Christmas and Hanukkah overlap. We celebrate the light, count our blessings, and wish each other a happy new year.

This time of year also features commitment and resolution. In Hebrew, the word hanukkah means dedication or rededication.

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They wrote: "Death to the Police"

Jim Klutznick

Rejecting a government proposal to peacefully move to an adjacent plot, the settlers of Amona, who stole privately-owned Palestinian land to establish an illegal outpost, are vowing to fight. Amona’s forty families – reinforced by thousands of zealous settlers – are hunkering down for a confrontation with law enforcement officials, which could take place as early as tomorrow night.

The settlers are being removed from Amona after Peace Now, together with the Palestinian land-owners, won a petition to Israel's High Court. The settlers promised that they will "only" passively resist the eviction, but past experience shows that their passive resistance quickly and easily turns into violence. Graffiti sprayed in Amona promising "Death to the Policemen” serves as an indication of the settlers' intentions. It's going to be ugly. It's going to be violent. It's going to be bloody. Not because Israel's police and the IDF want that, but because that's the way the settlers want it to be.

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Count us out

Debra DeLeeIt took me a couple of seconds to realize that this was neither a joke, nor the latest satirical "Borowitz Report.” The invitation to the Hanukkah celebration of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations joyfully noted that the party will be co-sponsored by the Republic of Azerbaijan, will be celebrating religious freedom and diversity, and will be held at the Trump International Hotel. REALLY???

When I realized that it was neither a joke nor a hoax, I wrote a letter, together with my friends Jim Klutznick and Marty Bresler, the current Chair and the immediate past Chair of APN'S Board of Directors, explaining to the leaders of the Presidents’ Conference why they should count us out unless they change their choice of partner and venue. And, after sending the letter to the Conference’s Stephen Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, we made it public.

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For Argument's Sake

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In our jointly authored book, my father, a writer, and I, a historian, took a fresh look at the mystery of Jewish survival. "Ours", we wrote, "is not a bloodline but a textline."

Book pullJews are not a people forged by blood and swords, but we are nevertheless an ancient nation. This belonging can cross international borders today; it tackles the religious-secular divide and the Israel-diaspora divide. Ours is a uniquely textual nation, whose sense of belonging comes from the Bible and a myriad of subsequent books, interpretations, arguments and questions. For many centuries, ours was the only pre-modern culture with universal male literacy, alongside significant female literacy.

Tell your Child"Tell your child": this is our oldest and best survival technique and cultural instrument. But we do not only teach our children to read and remember. We also encourage them to think afresh, and to challenge their elders with questions and ideas. Also to laugh: at ourselves, at authorities, and even at the Almighty.

As you know, all good Jewish families argue. Humor, irreverence, debate, originality, and text-based inventiveness: these are the ancient codes of Jewish survival. They explain our global sense of cousinhood - or at least a shared sense of humor - in today's world. It is the key to our three-millennia survival.

Does 'textual nationhood' mean that the Land of Israel is unimportant? That Jews ought to have remained stateless? Not in my book. The State of Israel, which my four grandparents helped build in the fields of the kibbutz and in the libraries of Jerusalem, is a miracle even to secular Jews like us. It came into being when young Jews of the 20th century transformed longing into activism, memory into state-building, and Talmudic reasoning into modern invention.

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