Of All the Challenges... Egypt (Hard Questions, Tough Answers- May 20, 2024)


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.

Continue reading

Recording- Reading Between the Headlines with Anat Saragusti

“The media” has come to mean many different things– broadcasters, social media, a euphemistic descriptor for spreaders of misinformation, or simply the news. But in the haze of war in Gaza and protests in the U.S., the media has itself become a source of polarization and debate. To analyze why coverage seems to slant one way or another politically, how nationalism and government disinformation find their way into the newsroom, and how journalists source their reports, we spoke with one of Israel’s foremost media experts.

Continue reading

Four Years at APN

Dear Friend of APN,

Today marks four years since I began in my role as President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. It’s also 76 years since the declaration of the State of Israel and, consequently, Nakba Day.

You need not spend much time thinking about my anniversary, but if you celebrate Israel’s establishment, or if you commemorate Nakba Day, I urge you, today, to think about both.

Continue reading

Statement on Compliance Certification Report for Israel

May 14, 2024- Americans for Peace Now disagrees with the Biden administration’s May 10 report to Congress on Israel’s compliance with international and American law in its conduct of the Gaza war. Although the Administration admits that Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law, it hedged its recommendations with the less-than-credible observation that wartime conditions prevented U.S. officials from determining specific instances.

Continue reading

Legislative Round-Up (May 10, 2024)

Continue reading

Statement- Arms and Rafah

May 9, 2024- Americans for Peace Now supports President Biden’s decision to cease sending offensive weapons to Israel following its invasion of Rafah. This principled step reflects the gravity of the crisis and the urgent need for a cessation of hostilities.

We know this decision is difficult. President Biden has always been a staunch supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself. Now, however, with Israel’s government proceeding with its invasion of Rafah, and with humanitarian aid again halted by the closure of the only access points into Gaza, this is a necessary step that demonstrates President Biden’s commitment to preventing further loss of life. Over 1 million civilians are sheltering in Rafah and, as the President pointed out, the weapons being withheld are powerful bombs and artillery shells that indiscriminately kill and maim innocent civilians.

Continue reading

Statement on Deadline for Compliance Certification for Israel

May 7, 2024- Before tomorrow’s deadline for the State Department to report to Congress regarding Israel’s compliance with US and international humanitarian law, we at Americans for Peace Now remind the Biden Administration and Congress that continuing to send offensive weapons to Israel very likely violates both existing law and President Biden’s National Security Memorandum (NSM-20). That memorandum requires that all countries receiving US security assistance comply with US and international humanitarian law before receiving US assistance. For months now, elected representatives, intergovernmental bodies, international courts, Israeli and global human rights observers, and members of the Biden Administration themselves have persistently expressed grave concerns regarding the actions of the Netanyahu government.

World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain said this week that she believes there is currently a “full-blown famine” in northern Gaza, a situation that is a direct result of Israel’s policy of restricting aid. Although the Netanyahu government has promised more access to aid, conditions on the ground are worsening, and will grow even more dire as Israel proceeds with its invasion of Rafah. The assurances provided by the Netanyahu government have never been less credible.

Continue reading

Legislative Round-Up- May 3, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

Continue reading


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.

Continue reading

Transcript- A Discussion on Middle East Policy & Congress with Senator Chris Van Hollen

Hadar Susskind 0:00

Hi, I'm Hadar Susskind. I'm the president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. And I will get us started by saying I'm thrilled to be joined today by my senator, Senator Chris Van Hollen, who represents the great state of Maryland. Before being our senator, Senator Van Hollen was Congressman Van Hollen, and was my congressman. And before that, I believe he was my state senator. So I've been voting for you for a very, very long time. And I am grateful for all you have done and continue to do. Before we jump in, you know, I think everybody - not "I think" - everybody knows, this is a chaotic and a difficult time for those of us who care about Israel and Palestine and humanity, frankly, and American policy around the Middle East. And we are seeing really unprecedented things taking place, both on the ground - we've, of course, been talking together many times about what's happening in Gaza, what happened on October 7 in Israel and continues to happen in Israel. Of course, American campuses and their reactions around this are dominating the news right now. And as always, Congress has been very, very busy. So I'm really, really thrilled to, again, introduce our guest, Senator Chris Van Hollen, who is here with us today. Thank you for joining us, Senator.


Senator Chris Van Hollen 1:22

Well Hadar, it is great to be with you. It's great to be with Americans for Peace Now. Thank you for your leadership, I'm very proud to have you as a constituent in the state of Maryland. And thank you and Americans for Peace Now for striving, as your title indicates, to achieve peace and security and dignity for everybody in the Middle East, everybody in Israel, everybody in Palestine. It is good to be with you, and others on this call.


Hadar Susskind 1:56

Thank you. So before we jump in, I of course, as often is the case, forgot some of the housekeeping. So for folks who would like to ask questions, I remind you, please use the Q&A function at the bottom of the screen, not the hand raising. We are not taking live questions, but we will be following those that are submitted on the Q&A, we will try to get to as many of them as possible. If we can't get to them all, we will do our best to get to them in a follow up over email. So again, please use the A&A button at the bottom of the screen. So I want to kick us off, on this conversation, where we really want to focus on Congress and what Congress has been doing, and how the nature of the dialogue and the activity in Congress has perhaps shifted, particularly since October 7. So I think that has been a big shift, particularly in the Democratic caucus. Again, the Republicans are sort of hewing to their line. And specifically when it comes to the issue of conditioning or restricting aid, or enforcing existing laws and existing legislation around aid, there were 17 senators who supported you in your amendment to require that weapons received by any country - by the way, this was not at all Israel specific - would be... Sorry, I lost myself there. Those senators joined you in an amendment that said that any countries receiving that kind of aid, need to be complying with existing US law about foreign aid. You know, we came out, as many of you know, three years ago talking about conditioning aid. And when we did so, there was almost no conversation like that happening in Congress. We've seen such a shift now. How do you think we got there? And you know, where do you think things stand on this issue?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 3:44

Well, let me start, at the beginning of this most recent, very, very difficult chapter, and that was on October 7. And I think everybody in the United States Senate, like people around the country, were horrified by the Hamas terror attacks on Israel. And, like President Biden, stood with Israel and continue to stand with the people of Israel at this moment of trauma. And I very much supported President Biden's decision to go to Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks, at that moment of trauma, to embrace the people of Israel and then continue that very close relationship. And so like the President, I strongly believed and continue to believe that Israel not only had the right to defend itself, but the duty to do so. But I've been very clear from the beginning that a war can be just but it still needs to be fought justly. And that has been the focus of a lot of our concerns and attention, given the terrible situation that we now are witnessing in Gaza. Because the right to self defense does not include the right to arbitrarily restrict the delivery of humanitarian assistance to 2 million people in Gaza who have nothing to do with Hamas. And it does not include the right to, as President Biden described, engage in indiscriminate bombing that has led to huge numbers of civilian deaths, up to 34,000 deaths, two-thirds of them being women and children. And so Hadar, what you've seen, is members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, respond to those very real humanitarian concerns, concerns that we have as Americans based on ensuring that our values and principles are applied, not only with respect to adversaries, but also with respect to our friends and partners. And so the amendment that I introduced with 18 of my Senate colleagues was very straightforward. It said, simply, that any recipient of US military assistance must agree to comply with international law, including international humanitarian law, and that every recipient of US military assistance must agree that they will facilitate and not arbitrarily restrict or otherwise impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance into a conflict zone, where that country is using US military assistance. Very straightforward amendment, based on values and based on principles, and saying that we want to make sure that when American taxpayer support is being provided, it needs to reflect our values and principles. Whether it's Israel, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's any other country in the world. That was the focus of the amendment that I filed on the supplemental national security bill when it was first in the United States Senate.


Hadar Susskind 7:28

And that amendment, ultimately turned into what we refer to as NSM 20, the National Security Memorandum 20, which was really a groundbreaking piece of policy. Again, it was also - for those, and there are many on the call, who, you know, enjoy the wonky, in the weeds - can you talk to us a little bit about how we went from an amendment on the National Security supplemental to having it turn into NSM 20?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 7:53

Yes, it is an interesting journey. It really began a little bit before I filed the amendment. I organized a letter that over 20 of us sent to the President of the United States - I think it was around half of our caucus - outlining our very real concerns with how the Netanyahu government was conducting the war in Gaza, referencing the very high civilian casualties, referencing the issue of the need for humanitarian assistance to people who had nothing to do with Hamas. That was sort of the baseline for the effort. And we then had a meeting with the President's top national security advisors about that letter, and then we proceeded from that letter to introducing the amendment. So what happened then was two things. One, you know, based on our conversations with President Biden's team, I think they recognized the need to make a clear statement about how we do need to better align our values with our assistance, and that we should do so on a universal basis. In addition, I mean, truth be told, I think, you know, Senator Schumer, was concerned about a divisive debate in the United States Senate, especially among members of the Democratic caucus, and worked with us to urge the Biden administration to adopt NSM 20. And so I spent a good six weeks in conversation, in dialogue with members of the Biden team to fashion NSM 20 so that it reflected the purpose of our amendment.


Hadar Susskind 9:52

Well, first of all, I would just say thank you for doing that and for seeing that through. Again, you know, for those of us who kind of are in the weeds of this, it was an incredible example of the ability of the legislative branch to also influence executive action. But following up on that, we're now just a few days away from that deadline, it's May 8, for the State Department to report on the assurances that it's received from Israel that it is, in fact, in compliance. So approximately a month ago, the administration said that those assurances were credible, were reliable, and Israel was in compliance. Since then, you and many of your colleagues have - I guess, along with us, by the way - you know, questioned that judgment. If the administration doesn't change that, if they announced on the 8th that Israel is in compliance with NSM 20, what happens then? What's the next step for you?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 10:50

Well, let me break down that question into a couple of parts. And first, I do agree with you that it's a really important example of how members of the Senate, in this case, can exercise their influence in a way to achieve change, not directly through an amendment that's voted on, but really pushing, in this case, the Biden administration, to work with us to accomplish our goal. And what this has done, NSM 20, is create what I call an accountability structure for the provision of US military assistance. But of course, an accountability structure is only as good as the willingness of the executive branch of the Biden administration to enforce it and live up to its terms, to have the political will to be transparent and honest in applying that structure. And you're right, I was very concerned, a number of weeks back, when the Biden administration determined that what we call the assurances, the written assurances, that were provided by the Minister of Defense of Israel, Defense Minister Gallant, that those met the test of being credible and reliable. And the reason we were concerned is that just because you have a high ranking official sign something does not, in and of itself, make it credible, if at the time it was being signed, it was being violated with respect to the requirements of providing humanitarian assistance to people who are literally starving to death in Gaza. And I was thoroughly concerned, or my concerns were, I think, you know, were validated, just with reports within the last week, that those bureaus within the Department of State that have the greatest expertise on these issues, recommended to the secretary of state that we do not find the assurances of the Netanyahu government to be credible. We know now that USAID, which are experts in delivering assistance, found that what was happening with respect to the delivery of assistance in Gaza did not meet the requirements that are required of the Netanyahu government. Too many restrictions in place, too many arbitrary denials of things like maternity kits, a deconfliction process that has been totally broken and resulted in over 200 aid workers killed, including recently from World Central Kitchen. So it was pretty clear that the Netanyahu government was not in compliance with that fact. And then you had the four bureaus within the Department of State that are most responsible for applying humanitarian law and looking after human rights, also recommending that the administration find that those assurances were not credible. But those key departments' recommendations were swept aside. And the Bureau of Political Military Affairs essentially said - well, I don't know if they denied those realities. But they said, well, this will result in a cut off of offensive military assistance and, you know, we don't want to do that, and so we're going to ignore those concerns. I say that as way of background to the May 8 report that you referenced, because that episode, with respect to the earlier assurances, does give me concerns about whether or not the May 8 report will be an honest accounting of what has happened. Because this is not just supposed to be a snapshot in time. It is supposed to chronicle what's happened from actually January of last year, so throughout the entire duration of the war in Gaza. And this is supposed to be a fact and law based analysis, the report. What happens based on that report, if anything, what policy decisions? Those are something that we can all debate, discuss and disagree about, but we should not have a disagreement about the basic facts and the application of the law. Which is why, and I will just close with this point here, it's very important that we've seen two things happen. One is this independent task force that was put together by outside experts, including many people who had previously worked at the State Department, but experts in international law, and experts who have been involved in literally US weapons targeting. And they came up with a comprehensive report indicating that there were many instances where we'd seen American weapons used in violation of international humanitarian law, and that when it came to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, that both US law, 620-I, had been violated - this is 620-I of the Foreign Assistance Act - and that international norms for the delivery of humanitarian assistance were violated. And I should point out that Amnesty International, just a few days after that taskforce report came out, reached similar conclusions. And so that should be the yardstick now by which we measure the credibility of the May 8 report that the Biden administration is supposed to submit. 


Hadar Susskind 16:48

Yeah. I mean, as you said, there have been experts from across the US government, external bodies, international NGOs, UN groups. I know, you know, I was recently there and spoke with Israeli leaders - I was there in Israel, not in Gaza, thankfully. I know you've been there also, you've been to the Gaza border there and seen it yourself. I mean, one of the things that, to me, is shocking about some of this is you actually don't necessarily even need all those reports, you need to listen to the things that Israeli government ministers have said about not allowing aid in. It's really not a debate, they have said things that are clear that they have done. And even some of the...improvements, I will call it, that we've seen in recent weeks with some of the crossings that have been opened and an increase in aid going in - while they're also still not sufficient, they also demonstrate very clearly that Israel was restricting the aid, that Israel was keeping it closed. So you know, I guess the question there is, what else do you think we the United States can and should be doing to ensure that assistance gets in? And I want to separate it out before I hand it back to. You know, there are so many issues that are important about this, we will get to talk more about the hostages. But also the release of the hostages is, of course, essential, the end of the war is, of course, essential. But the aid is essential, literally life and death, again, as are those other things for people, in a way that, you know, every day that is delayed is further deaths. And so I think part of the challenge in the policy conversation we have is people, quite understandably, wanting to connect all of those things, and there needs to be connections as we look toward an end to the conflict. But in terms of the immediate actions that the United States should be taking now around aid, what else do you see as the tools that are out there for us?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 18:46

Well, let me say that, as you indicated, what we need to get to is a ceasefire and a return of the hostages. That does need to be an absolute priority to achieve those two goals. Until we're at that point, where hostilities cease and hostages are returned, we do need to make sure that all of those innocent civilians in Gaza get the humanitarian supplies they so desperately need. Whether it's food to eat, water to drink, medicines to treat injured people, and care for newborns, the whole range of things. And as you said, I was at the Rafah border back in January along with my colleague, Senator Jeff Merkley, and we witnessed the arbitrary sort of denial of many goods that were allegedly dual use, but had no reasonable purpose as a weapon. Maternity kits were turned back, water purification kits were turned back, solar powered units to work with for desalination of water. And we heard about all the issues regarding the problems with deconfliction. And as you said, Hadar, those were accompanied by statements from many, many high level, you know, Netanyahu government officials, about denial of aid or severely restricting aid. You know, even the prime minister himself said that we're going to deliver the minimal amount as part of our war strategy. You have people like Smotrich and Ben-Gvir who very openly said, you know, we should be restricting aid. Smotrich held on to flour that could feed tens of thousands of people for weeks and weeks and weeks arbitrarily, and Ben-Gvir encouraged protesters to block food going in through Kerem Shalom. So as you say, we have this very terrible situation. Have some of these things improved, since the killings of aid workers with World Central Kitchen, and President Biden's phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu where he at last said, President Biden said that if we don't see improvements, you're going to see changes in US policy? There have been some marginal improvements. Because of that, the Erez crossing is now open. But the real measure of success, whether we're successful in deconfliction and delivery within Gaza, will be when people are not starving to death anymore, and when people have medicine to treat themselves. So this is why this report is going to be so important, because its purpose is not to conclude, for example, just that things have gotten better now. That's great if they're getting better now. It's supposed to be an unvarnished account of what has happened in Gaza, over this entire period of months, both in terms of restrictions on humanitarian aid, as well as the use of US weapons in these unacceptably high civilian deaths. And then there's the policy discussion. So let me just say on that point, that even as we speak, and separate from the May 8 report, I have called upon the Biden administration to pause the delivery of any more offensive weapons to the Netanyahu government until the Netanyahu government meets the very reasonable demands of the President of the United States. That means really making sure that we are not seeing people starving to death in Gaza. So really, making sure that in addition to just opening crossings, aid is being delivered to the people who need it, and that we are absolutely assured that there will not be an invasion of Rafah. The President of the United States has said this is a red line. He has said it's a red line because it will result in a huge amount of additional casualties and human suffering, it will make it much harder to achieve the objective of getting the hostages returned safely, and it will simply prolong the war. And so my view is that United States taxpayers should not be asked to give a blank check to the Netanyahu government and Smotrich and Ben Gvir. We should insist that the President use all the tools at his disposal to achieve his own stated objectives. These are his objectives. It makes no sense to be delivering offensive weapons at the same time Prime Minister Netanyahu is rejecting the requests of the President of the United States. So that stands separate and apart from the May 8 report, but the May 8 report should also inform on next steps going forward.


Hadar Susskind 24:23

Yeah, I mean, as somebody who spends a lot of time paying attention to both the US news around this, but also the Israeli news, you know, seeing that dichotomy and that difference in how things are reported and debated is really quite shocking. Because some of the things here that are in the discussion of "Well, is the government of Israel withholding aid?" or, you know, "Are they delivering sufficient amounts?", are not being debated there because, again, the government says quite clearly what they are doing, and members like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are quite clear on their views that there should be no aid given and that that should be blocked. So it's quite, it's really eye opening to see the debate. And I will say, it is also eye opening, but in a more positive way, to see that you and many of your colleagues, you know, are acknowledging that and are speaking out about it and not letting, you know, not letting those things just be whitewashed. So again -


Senator Chris Van Hollen 25:23

Well let me just say on that point, I mean, we have a fundamental problem here, because, you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu is listening much more closely to his far right extremist government partners, like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, than he is to the United States, the President of the United States of America. And of course, that government coalition, the most extreme in the history of Israel, can bring down Netanyahu at any time. And so  this is why we know that the number one governing principle of Prime Minister Netanyahu is to keep Prime Minister Netanyahu where he is. His personal ambition is overriding the good of the people of Israel, the good of the people of the United States, it's putting himself before the return of the hostages. So this is a very combustible situation. It is why the President of the United States, and so many of us in Congress want to see the President of the United States, use all these tools that he has. and I want to thank, you know, all the people on this call, for continuing to press to make sure that we uphold American values. Because if we're going to have credibility around the world, if we're going to have credibility about a values and principle based foreign policy where we respect universal human rights, where we respect the rule of law, we cannot selectively apply those principles only to our adversaries. We have to apply them as well to our friends and use, again, our tools, American taxpayer-paid military aid, to advance those values.


Hadar Susskind 27:14

So I know you spoke, I think it was just this past weekend, at the rally for the hostages. Again, you know, there's a regular effort to make sure that the plight of those hostages, American citizens and Israeli citizens and others, is kept at the forefront. And I know also you've met with some of those families as they've come here, we've been part of some of that. So is there, you know, can you talk a little bit about what either the administration or Congress or the United States overall, you think, can and should be doing to work on the plight of those hostages and make sure that they are, you know - not as many as possible - that every single one of them is released as soon as possible?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 27:56

Well, you're right, Hadar, I've met on multiple occasions with members of the families of hostages. And it's hard to imagine being in a more awful situation, where you wake up every day, wondering about the fate of your loved ones being held in captivity, by Hamas, somewhere in Gaza. I mean, that is sort of mental torture on a daily basis. So this is exactly why we need to continue to push and prioritize the return of the hostages. And, you know, I think as we look at the situation right now, as I said, and as you know, an invasion of Rafah will simply endanger them further, in addition to endangering the lives of innocent Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas. Look, I agree with Bill Burns, who's the CIA director, that is, ultimately, this conflict has to be resolved through political means. We do need to make sure that Hamas will not govern Gaza again. But it is also very important that we provide some vision of hope for the future, for Palestinians and for Israelis. A future of security, a future of dignity for all people. That is why it was important that President Biden advance the idea of a two-state solution. And I do believe - I don't mean the idea of a two state solution, we need to have a very clear pathway to finally achieve it. And I know there are differences of opinion about whether that is still achievable. But it's my view that this is the last gasp, right, for any hope of a genuine two-state solution. And President Biden, having advanced it, needs to really take leadership in calling upon both the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people, as well as the people of Israel, to rally behind that vision. Of course, it is a vision that has been knocked down, again, by Prime Minister Netanyahu, he threw that right back at the President of the United States. But there are very important reasons for embracing that vision. For the people of Israel, part of the President's vision is to include normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have not yet recognized Israel. And of course, for the Palestinian people, you know, long promised self-determination, dignity, and security. So, this has got to be the vision for going forward. But it cannot be a vision. We have been mouthing the words "we in the United States support a two state solution" for over almost 25 years now. And during that period of time, we have just seen more settlements move more deeply into the West Bank, more outposts. That is why so many people of good faith, who used to be in favor of a two state solution, have abandoned any hope for it. This is also why I say this is really the last gasp. And I think we all recognize that it is the most sustainable path forward to achieving peace and stability and human rights and justice for everybody in the region.


Hadar Susskind 31:47

You know, what you said about so many in the United States mouthing those words. I mean, for years, as I have talked to some of your colleagues in Congress and others about different initiatives and issues, and they said, "Oh, well, I support a two state solution." I said, look, that's a great, really brave position to take in 1995, right? The question is, what are you doing about it now? And for far too many people, the answer has been nothing positive, and frankly, often being obstructionist. I do want to talk about one thing that the President has done. And again, it has, understandably, not gotten quite as much attention because of the situation in Gaza. But the executive order of the sanctioning of violent settlers in the West Bank, I think, is a very big deal. And it's something we've now seen three rounds of. When the order was first released earlier this year, there were a lot of people that said, "Oh, you know, it's not a big deal. They just sanctioned a couple of little settlers." But we've seen it step up to some settler leaders in the second round. And the third round stepped up, actually to some institutions and some of the bodies that are involved in fundraising for the settler movement. I think it's an incredibly important step, because it has the potential to undermine the financial underpinnings of that settler movement. And because it's essential, like you said, to actually move us toward two states. So what can you share with us about, you know, what's happening in that space?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 33:05

Well I do think those are important steps. And as you and I both have said, we can no longer, you know, let people throw around the term "two-state solution" as an empty phrase, which is, you know - a lot of young Palestinians, for example, see that as a total deflection and and diversion from the real issues on the ground. Because as we have said those words, we have seen this deepening of the settlements and outposts. So that is why these actions by the Biden administration have been important. It's been, you know, the first time that any administration has said that we are going to attach a penalty. These penalties began really focused on settler violence and extremist settler violence in the West Bank, where you've seen, during this war in Gaza, a big uptick in settlers, you know, attacking Palestinians, Palestinian villages, trying to clear them off their lands, destroying olive trees. And in many instances, especially early in the war, the IDF was just sort of standing by, in some cases letting extremist settlers do this, and in some cases, actually, participating and defending extremist settlers. So the Biden administration has done the right thing, as you say, to not only impose sanctions, originally on four of these extremist settlers, but now begin to expand those sanctions and penalties to the sort of financial networks that support them. And so it's going to be very important that we continue to use this. Look, you know, last year, before the awful attacks of October 7, I actually proposed an amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee that essentially said that US military assistance cannot be used to further advance illegal settlements and outposts. Because we should not be allowing US-supplied weapons to be used as cover and protection for, you know, continuing and deepening the occupation. And so as we come out of, you know, hopefully sooner rather than later, this very dark chapter, when we get a ceasefire and a return of the hostages and begin the very, very difficult process of reconstruction, we do need to use all these tools at our disposal to try to achieve, in reality, President Biden's call for a two-state solution. And most of all, it's going to have to, you know, present a positive vision of what peace and stability can mean for Israelis and Palestinians alike. But I do think the President's going to have to make clear that we're going to use all the tools that we have to achieve those goals, especially when you're dealing with the likes of, you know, Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. I think that the people of Israel need to fully understand that the government of the United States of America is not going to subsidize the actions of people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.


Hadar Susskind 36:50

Amen. I want to switch you back from there to here, to the halls of the Senate. I think you all avoided debating the Antisemitism Awareness Act today, but it's still out there. As you know, the House passed it yesterday, and it's coming to the Senate. You know, we've been on the record at APN in opposition to this bill. It codifies the IHRA definition, which I believe is just used, frankly, not to fight antisemitism, certainly not to protect Jews from the very real issues of antisemitism we're facing in this country now, but rather really just to silence debate on Israel and Palestine, and to shut down to shut down people by calling them an antisemite. I don't know how deeply you've gotten a chance to engage with the bill yet. Can you maybe share with us your thoughts on the bill, and what you think we might see next week around this in the Senate?


Senator Chris Van Hollen 37:48

Sure, let me start with sort of first principles. Because this is obviously coming up in the context of, you know, many of the protests on college campuses and elsewhere around the country. And it seems to me we should all be able to hold two ideas in our head at the same time. One is that people have the right to peacefully protest the actions of the Netanyahu government or peacefully protest other things that they're concerned about. Number two, that antisemitism should have no place, or place of refuge, in our society, whether it would be on a campus or anywhere else, and that we need to speak out against antisemitism wherever we see it raise its ugly head. So those are the principles that we need to advance. Now, as you know, there are a number of pieces of legislation before Congress, both in the House and the Senate right now, dealing with antisemitism. In fact, months ago, I joined Senator Jackie Rosen and some others on a resolution expressing concerns about antisemitism that we were seeing on some college campuses. And again, let's distinguish between that and all the students who, in many cases on an interfaith basis, are protesting what the Netanyahu government is doing in Gaza. So look, I'm reviewing all of these bills. But you are right, that any legislation that seeks to equate criticism of the State of Israel with antisemitism is not only false on its face to draw that false comparison, but is in many ways designed to try to suppress discussion and debate - debate where people may make points that I strongly disagree with, but to say that that is automatically somehow antisemitic is is wrong. It's a violation of First Amendment rights. So the answer your question is, I'm looking at this legislation, I'm looking at the statements that were made by people like Congressman Nadler and others, and listening -


Hadar Susskind 40:21

To clarify for everybody, Congressman Nadler opposed the House version voted now. 


Senator Chris Van Hollen 40:26

Right. So, look, I'm looking at this debate. And again, as I say, what we need to do is make sure we fashion a policy that makes sure that every student on campus feels safe. No student should be subjected to any form of hatred in the form of antisemitism, in the form of Islamophobia, in the form of, you know, whatever it may be. We need to make sure that we don't see any kind of violence or harassment on campuses. Students have a right to feel safe, personally safe, on college campuses, and students have a right to peacefully protest things that they think are wrong. So those are the sort of lenses I will apply to any of these measures that are being considered in the United States Senate.


Hadar Susskind 41:23

Well, thank you, and thank you as always for your thoughtfulness on that. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today, and we'll see you all later. 


Senator Chris Van Hollen 41:31

Thank you.


1 2 3 45 6 ...542 543 544