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

This webinar featured a conversation between APN's President and CEO Hadar Susskind and Senator Chris Van Hollen. They discussed the role of Congress in shaping US-Middle East policy and how conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have changed on Capitol Hill. Senator Van Hollen is a Congressional champion for peace and justice.

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Legislative Round-Up- April 19, 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.

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More Effective Together- APN Guest Commentary by Nomi Colton-Max (April 22, 2024)


A proud Progressive Zionist, Nomi is the Executive Board Chair and Vice President of Ameinu. Nomi is also the current Vice President for Programming of the American Zionist Movement and is involved with Brit Eytz- the World Labour Zionist Union and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Trained as a foreign policy analyst specializing in the Arab World and the Persian Gulf, Nomi speaks frequently on the subjects of current events in the Middle East and Israel and speaks Hebrew, Arabic, and French.  

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Passover Letter 2024

April 19, 2024- Americans for Peace Now (APN) applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of a third round of sanctions addressing extremist settler violence. This latest round of sanctions, which predominantly targets crowdfunding campaigns for violent extremist settlers, marks a significant advancement in efforts to confront and deter settler violence in the West Bank.

The decision to impose sanctions on entities facilitating fundraising campaigns for individuals like Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai, known for their involvement in violent acts against Palestinian civilians, sends a clear message that the United States is committed to disrupting the financial networks that sustain and enable extremist activities.

Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, remarked, “These sanctions demonstrate President Biden’s commitment to action against the epidemic of ongoing violence by extremist settlers. By targeting not only individual perpetrators but also those who provide financial support to fuel their violence, the United States is taking meaningful steps to undermine the systems that support settler violence.”

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APN Haggadah Insert 2024

Transcript- Getting Aid Into Gaza with SmartAid's Shachar Zahavi

Hadar Susskind  00:00

Hello, welcome. Thank you. I'm Hunter Susskind, the President and CEO of Americans for peace now, thank you for being with us today for this webinar. I know for some of you, it's probably the second time you've joined us this week for webinars. It's a busy week. I'm sure many of you recognize my colleague, our Director of Government Relations, Madeleine Cereghino, hello, Madeline, thank you for being with us. Before I introduce our guests in just a moment, housekeeping notes as usual, this webinar is being recorded. Again, for those of you who are with us on Monday, we had a technical glitch, and that webinar was not recorded, unfortunately. But this one is, as you want to ask questions, please use the q&a function at the bottom of the screen. Don't raise your hand, use the q&a, we will get to as many of the questions as we possibly can. And that's it. So I'm now very happy to introduce our guest for today Shachar Zahavi. Before we get to shut out just the framing a little bit, you know, these last few weeks, really months, the the subject of humanitarian aid really dominated the conversations about the Gaza war, headlines about aid trucks being stopped being blocked, obviously, you know, reports and warnings about famine in Gaza, lack of medicine, lack of housing, so many different pieces. And we've looked at and we've seen reports about the different organizations, of course, UNRWA and their challenges and the reduction, the elimination of us funding their tragically the killing of the world central kitchen workers. So the issue of aid and aid Relief has been front and center. Today, we invited a guest to really come discuss the situation on the ground, the logistics of providing aid, how this actually works from someone who's really doing away. And for that we will speak with Shachar Zahavi, who is the founder of SmartAid, which is an international aid agency leverages technologies to enhance their humanitarian efforts worldwide. So welcome, Shachar, thank you for joining us today.


Shachar Zahavi  02:10

Thank you for having me.


Hadar Susskind  02:12

Good. So, you know, before we jump in and start talking about Gaza, and all the details of the work that you're doing on the ground there, maybe take just a minute or two and tell us a little bit more about smart aid and the work that the organization does. I'm sure some folks are familiar with it, but I'm willing to guess that perhaps not everyone is. Okay. So a little bit just a background about about me. Last week was 30 years since I started my international catastrophe, humanitarian journey. It started during the genocide in Rwanda. So basically, I was one of the I helped found the organization called let that and then I established the charity called Israel, which I ran for 18 years. And currently, I'm running a charity called Smart aid. And the idea behind smart aid was basically from the whole startup nation concept, where we work with all the decades of experience and work on areas around the world and natural disasters. We basically, me and a group of friends in America, Australia, and Israel, decided that what better way then to actually bring technology and help people on the ground? Just a few, a few very short examples we've been. We got subcontracted by SpaceX provided put up starlings during the war, and Ukraine on the border of Moldova. We worked with Microsoft in Ukraine providing education. And of course, we work in about 40 African countries and do clean water, clean energy, telecommunications, basically leveraging the Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship. And that's what we do. Yeah, and on the short term.


Madeleine Cereghino  04:20

Thank you so much. So I wanted to now of course, jump into why we're here. Gaza- could you before we get an idea that you guys have been doing there? Could you just give us you know, an update on the ground as to what people are facing? Obviously, it's all over the news, but we'd love to hear in your words, kind of the scenarios.


Hadar Susskind  04:43

Okay, um, before I enter Gaza, just to give you a broad scenario of SmartAid , we have never worked in Israel and never worked in Gaza. Before we did work. We did help and Lebanon, Syria, Turkey. Oh, of Afghanistan, Pakistan, all these different places, but here it was a very sensitive. So we were like focusing globally, with what happened when Hamas entered Israel and massacred Israelis. Basically what we what happened is we started and are still continuing to provide assistance to evacuees, we're working with farmers on the border, helping them rebuild the cable team and stuff like that. And the situation with Gaza. In the first few months, of course, everyone, including us were focused on what can we do to help civilians in Israel, both the Jewish Christian Muslim communities that were affected. And around January when things started to drag on? We started looking at the situation in Gaza. Now we're a pure humanitarian charity. So basically, what we do is we provide aid to civilians. We're a non government, non religious organization. And well, I just came back a month and a half ago from South Sudan, where you have 8 million people persecuted by the Sudanese government. And when I came back, we started to trying to figure out, can we do something to help the women's children and civilians and civilians in Gaza itself? The way that we do it is basically, we have been, we the charities, that international charities that work around the world. We see them all the time and all these different catastrophes. So we knew the people in the world central kitchen, we knew we knew some of the people there, it's like so you see them in Ukraine, and you saw them in Sudan, you saw them and other places. And the same thing with other international charities. So what we did is we reached out to our partners and different partners, some European, some Americans, and we're trying to figure out what they were doing on the ground, and how can we as an aid organization, China. And again, we were deliberating, we're registered as an American charity is an Australian charity is really charity could have done it from anywhere, but because it's in our backyard, it was very complicated. So So in the first, like, around December, till mid January, we were talking to getting advice from Army officials, there is a special unit that's called co gat in the army, basically, the their responsibility is to make sure that all the aid enters Gaza. And so we were speaking with them, we were talking with international groups. We even in America and Europe, spoke to some rabbis and has the Federation's and different different in the Jewish community outside the Jewish community. And we were eventually we decided, listen where we have to help. And that was the first phase. And what happened is we basically reached out to a few donors who are interested in supporting and supporting our work in Israel, as well as other stuff that we've been doing globally. And we told them, Listen, we want to try and provide assistance in Gaza. And the first question was, how can you make sure it sounds like it sounds like a good idea, but how can you make sure it doesn't reach a mass and Hamas doesn't use what you're gonna provide. But what we what we did is we went back to the drawing board, and of course with 30 years of experience in these kinds of situations, and of course, coordinating it with CO guide and looking what's allowed and what's not allowed in, we eventually decided and with a partner is that the best thing is first, let's put up some refugee camps. So the focus was putting up tents. Tents, basically, is something that we believe after the due diligence that we did that a mass won't have anything to do with tents and people did need and still do need shelters. So that's one of the most basic needs, especially during the winter, and now during the summer. And that's when we started providing purchasing tents and bringing them into the into the strip. Now, just to give you some sort of an idea of how how a humanitarian aid worker or a charity looks that, but at a conflict zone, what we usually do is we always, if possible, try and purchase the items locally, whatever is needed, because that helps reduce the cost of flying things in and it's easier because it's stuff usually that the locals relate to. So whether it's food or whether it doesn't matter what it is technologically wise, or whether it's cancer, stuff like that, it's traditionally oriented to the local community. So what we did is our through our partners with our partners, the currently the main entry of aid into Gaza is through Egypt. So the purchasing of aid and all the aid that's coming in, is basically coming in from Cairo to the border with Israel. And there are a few ways that it goes in. I'm gonna explain in a few minutes. And we purchased that we purchased it in Egypt, put it in the warehouse of some of our partners there, I can't, at this point, mentioned the names of the partners just for one reason alone is because we don't want to jeopardize the workers on the ground themselves. We don't want them to be targeted. It happens all over the war, not only in Gaza, it happens in Sudan happens then Ukraine other places. So we prefer we try and tend not to put them in the front and have them being risks. So we purchased the tents, we rented the trucks with our partners. We had Egyptian, Egyptian drivers drive it all the way sitting for about two three days on the border in Egypt between Egypt and Israel waiting for it to be inspected by the IDF the Israeli the Israeli army and and of course, all of this everything that enters Gaza, you have to get pre approved by Kogut by the humanitarian are so you can't just decide okay, people need ABCD like in every other disaster you basically need to go through the list that is approved by the Israeli government and from that you do you purchase and do the distribution so that's how we got to the tents and that's so what happens as you get to the border the army inspects the trucks goes through the content makes sure that nothing that is not on the list is not in these trucks. I can tell you that we didn't have any problem and most and like I think over 95 if not even more percent of international aid was actually allowed in the next step was you have to enter Gaza so you can enter Is there a through Rafa you can enter to get to the north. What we're doing now is and this is the next step that I'm going to talk about but they're the army opened two new corridors one in the center near Beeri looking good as Beeri and one in the north.


Shachar Zahavi  14:18

And usually to get to those areas. What happens is after the inspection you it's it's still on Egyptian trucks. It's escorted by the army to the different entry points. You get into the entry point and then it they download. They basically have Egyptian truck or Palestinian truck. They download the merchandise put it on the A they put it on the Palestinian trucks and then it moves on inside and goes to wherever it needs to go. Logistically. The way that we operate in Gaza is we have both local cheer Use Palestinian charities as well as American and European partners, charity partners, all of them again, all of these charities, including the Palestinian ones, are charities that, again, are co got approved.


Hadar Susskind  15:20

Second, before you get into the workings on the ground, which I want to get into, I've got I've two questions, sort of before that phase. Just curious, you started the work with the tents do you have this isn't my my easy question is? Do you have a sense? Do you know how many how many tents you've supplied? What's that? 3,500, currently, and I've seen how many people more or less pretend


Shachar Zahavi  15:48

it's a 10 for 12.


Hadar Susskind  15:49

1210 for 12. So that's we're talking about people we're talking about, we're talking about housing for approximately 40,000 people off the top my head. So as as a beginning, as a beginner, we basically started mid mid January. Right? And then again, before we get into the on the ground, I'm curious about, you know, you just said that you guys have not had problems getting getting the aid in for the most part, which I don't know if that's a function of the fact that you're sending in one thing so far, that it's tense. And it's perhaps relatively sort of simple. Or if there are other reasons, but talk, you know, we've obviously heard other things from from other groups about the challenges of getting aid in. Talk to us a little bit about what what are those major challenges faced in delivering the aid to Gaza in this moment. There are a few challenges. One challenge is, of course, the inspection, which takes a long time, and the amount of aid. And again, I can compare it well, I can to Ukraine or to other places, the amount of aid that needs to flow into Gaza is needs to be 10 times more, it's not the it's there is there is a barrier in terms of inspections, it takes time for the army to inspect, it takes time to the procedures to get approvals of what you want to get in. Of course, you have the UN in the middle of all of this, where they also have issues and agendas that they want to promote and want to push forward. I know that everyone's talking about the 700 UN trucks that are stuck on the Palestinian side. And that's also another problem which, on that side, I can tell you that it's actually international aid humanitarian problem. And it happens around the world. It's not only in Gaza. Well, logistic wise, how to handle the logistics to get to get it to the people to there, how do you get there? Do you have enough funding? Or do you or do you have the clearance? Or do you have the right people who would be willing to go into specific sites to deliver it then of course we have the unfortunate situation where Hamas sometimes takes over the these trucks. So there's a lot of like there's it's a very complicated war and very complicated area. I was in eastern Ukraine literally like five kilometers from the between the between the Russians and the Ukrainians about two and a half months ago. And it's almost the same thing. You have both sides. You're in the middle of a war zone and you're trying not to get shot. And so with the army and with they give you the green zones and where you can enter where you can drive and what you can do, but you can you don't know what's going to happen from the other side. So the and again, there is there there is not enough qualified aid workers on the ground and when I mean qualified aid workers. It's not enough to recruit someone just because he's there. You need people with experience on actually how to make sure that the supply chain is working, how to supervise it, how to make sure that the right people get there. It's not duplicated, it's protected, it's everything. It's a whole, it's a whole, it's a profession. And there's not enough professionals there. So it's a lot of it is based on locals that are recruited into the international aid system on the ground. So that's another problem, which is hampering the distributions.


Madeleine Cereghino  20:27

I want to go back to something you said about, you know, ensuring that supplies don't reach Hamas. And that kind of thing. We hear this a lot. And I would love I think, to just get a little more detail from you, if you're able to share I know some things might be confidential. But if you could give us a little more detail as to like that kind of vetting and oversight that needs to be done that is being done.



So yeah, there are limitations on what I can say can't there is no there is no there is no perfect solution. To give you basically again, back to having people with background and knowledge and protection, the vetting basically the the items that go in the the main concern and that's the way that actually international organizations are making sure that it gets to the people as they have their own people coming in do the distributions and not doing it through a third party. A lot of them do that. A lot of them partner with trustworthy local Palestinian charities that are again vetted by and approved by the Israeli army by COGAT. And, and with them, there is some sort of monitoring where are you going to distribute it? How many people are there there are site visits before site visits after but again, it's never there's no 100% guarantee.


Hadar Susskind  22:23

So let's let's take it back to where you were going about what happens once once the aid has gotten into Gaza you know, what are the logistical challenges delivering it around the strip differences between doing so the south Egypt border versus your ability to get to the North-- Have you been able to distribute the tents throughout the strip?



so the camps were is basically in the south in the Rafah area. That's that is mostly the easiest area to enter. And now of the getting a to the north and to the center is the more problematic situation which as you thought was was central kitchen there's like there's a lot of risks. And that's why now they open a lot of they open a few more entry points in the north end in the center of Israel. So you don't have to go from Rafa go through unsecure roads. And so what we do is we do we're doing two things, sorry, I'm just looking at it, like, trying to in my head. The Rafah part is basically covered, it's easy, it's provided you have over a million and a half people there that need aid the flow of a there again, there needs to be more flow of aid but but it's it's reasonable in terms of providing it distributing it, putting up tents, distributing food, distributing water, stuff like that, when it comes to the central and the north of Gaza. The way that now the discussions are taking place is basically bypassing it again with Israeli security through Israel In Israel and then entering from from above and entering it inside and we have our partners on the ground. Some of them foreigners. They have warehouses that are set in place there that the items are put in the warehouses which are guarded, and basically are in non conflict zones that are approved by Kodak. And from from that warehouse, distributions are being done on a daily basis. And the next few days, actually, we're now we've now purchased food, specifically wheat, and water. Some basic items, and the plan is to do that route and enter from the North. That's hopefully until like the end of this week, early next week, trucks would come from Egypt and go through the process. Yeah.


Madeleine Cereghino  26:08

I think I'm gonna take a question from the chat here. You know, getting resources into Gaza. And whether you think perhaps that because you're an Israeli organization, does it make it easier? In your estimation?



Nope. Doesn't know it doesn't. There. There are security regulations and in war time, and it's not only in Israel. And as in Israel, you have people coming to support Israel, and you know, going into the kickball team and taking photos with soldiers. If I go, if I, I just took a rabbi to Ukraine, he tried to take a photo of a soldier and the Ukrainian soldier almost got arrested and got put in jail. So it's not it's not only Israel, again, it's not being Israeli doesn't simplify it it. But what we do is actually the engagement. We try and and again, this is what we do, what we do in other countries. So if what we do is we for the international groups that we work with, we participate in the discussions with the Israelis and try and help them frame it in a way that in a local context, that people would understand that the is that the equivalent and the army would understand what they need. And we explain it also to our international partners, like we try and be be some sort of an in between to try and make sure that things don't fall in between the chairs. And hopefully, I don't know, we're continuing now that I have to say it took us it took us a while. I had a talk with him down, what a month ago. It took us it took us a while. We've been working not under the radar, because whoever's involved in humanitarian aid in Gaza, including the army knew what we were doing. And of course, there wasn't encouragement to continue to do so. But we got to a point where, and again, with our friends from World central kitchen, that we started to try and get and I'm we're humanitarian workers. I'm not I'm not a we're not a we're not amnesty, we're not civil rights organizations. We're basically pure humanitarian, we want to get to whoever needs it. And but it was really, really difficult because, again, the massacred are people from our community. I know. I know. More than a few of my friends were massacred. I have people that I know that are still abducted and are still in Gaza. And the situation in Israel is really not easy, as well as globally on the Gaza Israel situation. And so what we've been doing is we've been talking to different individuals that we know from rabbis, the heads of Federation's of foundations, that people that we trust to try and figure out how can we actually get into a place where we say guys, it's time for the Jews, the A step up. And it's not something that is not said, the Israeli government, Jewish group. Even Israelis here say, we're against Hamas, we're not against civilians. But only only around a month ago when I started speaking to him down. And with the unfortunate incident with World central kitchen, we felt that people started to really it really started to sink in. Because living here in Israel use you look at what we went through. And this is the binoculars that we're always looking at. And suddenly with what happened with World central kitchen, suddenly, for a whole week, there was nonstop cut Israeli coverage on the situation and what's happening to people in Gaza. And it was like, people started to, you know, people started to think, Okay.


Hadar Susskind  31:10

think it was really new also, because, again, I was there, you know, last last month, I think some of the folks on this on this webinar, were there with me last month. And one of the things that, to be honest, was a little bit shocking, was how many Israelis we spoke to who are, you know, educated, paying attention, people politically on the left, who really were basically not aware of the nature of the catastrophe in Gaza, the famine, like they really just had not looked at and absorbed, the depth of how intense that was.  I understand. I have to say, tomorrow, tomorrow, we have a post trauma compound here in the village where we provide trauma counseling to the people from the kibbutzim to the youth to like first responders and all that I totally understand like, like, basically every second third person knew someone either was abducted or who was impacted. So everyone was internally like looking on the inside. But it's been six months. Unfortunately, I don't know what's going to happen. No, I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen in the next few months. And now, I think people more are starting to understand that. Okay, bring back the hostages is the main campaign. And but now there is an added added issue to the bring back the hostages, bring back the hostages, stop the war, like we just we need to start healing our own wounds. And again, it doesn't. Everyone's saying we need to eradicate Hamas, but no one has a real answer on how to do that. And I have to say yesterday, we decided we had an article published... and I have to say, I've been interviewed many times. In the past 30 years, I've been to a lot of very stressful situations. This was one of... I couldn't sleep for like a few days, because I wasn't I wasn't and I'm still not sure what would be the reactions in the next day in the next coming days, because it was only published yesterday. And I don't know because because I see there's a lot there's a lot of anti on both sides. But what astonished me and I mentioned to you had earlier today was until now I we were approached by hundreds in the past 24 hours, hundreds of people that some of them I knew some of them very high and some of them very influential, some of them just regular individuals and families from across the board across the board and I'm talking about the Jewish community now. And all of them were like kol hakavod, how can we donate, we want to support this effort like just let us know what we can do. And I have to say I was I'm still waiting for the for the punch.  Has there been any negative?



I have not, we have not gotten one negative response. I think I think it might have been and again, it's, it's it's boiling in me and me as well because I'm Israeli and I'm part of the Jewish community as a whole globally, but I think people in the Jewish community and again, it's people that some of them I don't even know.... I think people want to feel that, you know, what it might be time as, as Jews as Israelis, the whoever, you know, if there's an Israeli charity now doing this, we might feel relieved to do it through through an Israeli charity, because, you know, what, if an Israeli charities do this, and they're, they're coordinated, and they get support in the army, and the army is allowing the aid in, then, you know, what, maybe we should start thinking differently. And there's a lot of people who sat on the fence that actually came off the fence, and I'm flying in May, I'm going to be a whole month in the US. And some people that I've been trying to reach for a few years, literally wrote to me and said, Hey, please, we're inviting you to our house. Like, we want to talk about this. So hopefully, it will continue. This will open some sort of a stream of open a stream for Jews and Israelis to actually have some sort of a way to donate to Gaza. And basically tell their friends, guys, we understand what's happened, we we support what's going on in Israel, but here take a look. We're also helping Palestinians and you know, what? It's, we're proud of how we're doing it, I think. I don't know. It's, it's a new for me, this is really, really this whole situation. And again, it's because it's in my backyard.


Madeleine Cereghino  37:32

Yeah, thank you. Um, you know, we talked a bit about the tents that you guys have been providing and how you're now looking into other humanitarian goods to to in. So I want to take a minute, and ask you to talk a bit about what people are facing in terms of food insecurity. Because it seems at least from you know, where we are pretty far away, to be the most pressing need.


Hadar Susskind  38:01

So there is food insecurity, but not at the level of, there are different levels in the aid world, there are different levels of food insecurity. It's not it's, it's not a famine, it's not a famine, that I have to admit, it's not a famine, and I've seen famine and other places it you know, people are hungry, and they definitely don't receive the full amount of what you need nutrition wise, by UN standards, then that's why the food is the trucks themselves are mostly focused on providing food.


Madeleine Cereghino  38:53

Now, when you say it's not a famine, do you mean the entirety of Gaza because I know the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification System, believes the North might be in famine, but they don't have the ability to be on the ground to identify that but I understand Rafah might just be like at risk of famine. So this is new information for me. Is it the entirety of Gaza, in your estimation, that's not quite...?



I cannot give you an estimation on the whole Gaza on the north. I'll know more next week when when our teams are. We're going to do the distributions there and have some staff there. And again, I don't know from working with international aid organizations and UN and all that, and again, I'm very supportive of everyone's work. I prefer first checking before declaring. So saying that they're on a brink of famine without actually assessing that. And again, I understand The complexity of actually being unable to reach northern Gaza is one of the causes. But I'm very cautious. Usually, as an aid worker as a as a CEO of a charity, I usually, we usually tend to first do fact checking and then send out a statement. And again, I can't I can't answer that question, because we'll know more next week about Northern Gaza.


Madeleine Cereghino  40:33

Makes total sense. Thank you.


Hadar Susskind  40:36

So I'm going to put smush two questions together, but I do think they're connected. So one of them again, is you talked earlier about, you know, the, the, of course, anything that goes in whether that's through smart aid, or anybody else is coordinated with Kogod, expected inspected by the IDF. And there have been a lot of charges, allegations, that, you know, that a lot of aid has been delayed, at some aid has been, you know, turned away and prevented, seemingly arbitrarily, you know, articles saying that aid was turned away, because they found, you know, not weapons, but all kinds of various things in there that they decided, should not go in. So, again, I know, that hasn't been your experience, but I don't know if you know, through your through your colleagues, the other organizations, whether you think that's accurate, frankly. And then the second question that I think, is related, because as we're talking about the aid, the challenges of getting the aid in, of course, there was the the moment that made a lot of news, at least here, when the United States announced that it was going to build this pier to bring aid in, you know, over over the sea. What do you think about that as as a strategy for delivering aid? Is it effective in the short term is it as some people have said more politics than, you know, real impact on the ground?



To start with the delaying and pushing things back, I can tell you, and again, this is giving you guys some a little bit of insights on how humanitarian organizations work. Are you the UN usual UN agencies, UNICEF, World Food Program units, like all these different groups, you always coordinate with local governments. And then you have all the rest of the charities all the way from the Red Cross to Oxfam, and all the rest of the guys that you hear about. Charities sometimes have a tendency and disasters to not respect local traditions and local procedures. And some and some of them either do it to to do publication or not, I'm not saying all the theories but there are some and some and some of them are saying Guys we know better this is what we want and it might they they might do it maybe my estimation is because the professionalism of of the teams on the ground might not be as big as needed and expected. If I work in a war torn area, and I get a list and this is the list that's the this is the list that basically says this is what we're allowing and this is what is needed. We stand by that list if there are additional stuff that we believe that needs to enter then we start negotiation with whoever controls that area. And again Sudan Ukraine Myanmar, China like you have not it's it's it's it's hard it's hard to work in these areas were affected mentally emotionally, I can tell you that I was drained and close the cell phone for two days after the whole incident was well central kitchen. And you're not always willing to accept and it's it's both sides. There's no no one there. I don't see that. There's like fall done. It's it's just It depends it Eventually, like any other company, charity, whatever depends on who leads it and how they feel the same day and what their vision and focuses. That's, that's specifically for items that weren't approved in, like, I would never, if I know that people are starving, I would never put in items that are not approved on a truck with food because then it won't reach the people. So just need to do the basic math of how to you just need to understand how to do it now with the with a peer itself. We don't know yet. I can tell you there was the trial. And they're still continuing to try and figure it out. Both the Israeli government and officials that we're speaking to, as well as some different very massive aid organizations, and of course, coordinating it coordinating at all with Cyprus and Greece in all the areas where it's supposed to leave. They don't know one they tried once. It's still it's going to take a few more weeks until they see if it can, if it can actually be another channel and route to enter Gaza. I think I think the easiest the easiest route was before the war was through the Ashdod port. That's where most of the aid came in from. It never came in from Egypt, Egypt as a new thing.


Hadar Susskind  46:43

Which has recently been reopened for the purpose of aid, right? As part of that conversation President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu had last week, they recently decided to allow us to go to serve that function again.



And for decades, that was the main port that all the aid to Gaza came through. So hopefully with that being opened, things will get better. But again, as the war continues, i There are more casualties both on the Palestinian side and on the Israeli side now in the north with a Hezbollah. And I don't know, we don't go into politics, I don't express my opinion on what needs to be done by the our government, the American government. All I know is that we're trying to expand the services that we're providing now in Gaza. And that's our focus now. Basically, fundraising as much as we can, so we can purchase it and bring in as much food and as much aid as needed. That's, that's our focus, just expand as much as we can until things get clearer and hopefully, you know, peaceful, and then there are other governments who would eventually take responsibility over rehabilitation.


Hadar Susskind  48:27

So I want to follow up with something that I actually saw just as we were starting this, right before Madeleine and I were discussing, you know, the Congress is going to vote probably this weekend, on a supplemental aid package. There's a lot of veteran includes aid for Israel, aid for Ukraine, a little bit of Taiwan. And in fact, looks like the base text does include aid, humanitarian aid for Gaza. Also, Madeline correct me if I'm messing this up, but I believe it's $9 billion for Gaza. Correct? Right, which, again, I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of the weird congressional politics right now of, you know, which members of which party support which of those and who's going to come who's going to vote for the whole package. But if that if that goes through, if we see a $9 billion hopefully, you know, surge in aid for for Gaza. I guess, as somebody who's who's an expert on this kind of humanitarian relief. I guess what I'm asking about is the scale is that I mean, $9 billion, a lot of money by any count. But is that enough? Does that help bring the people of Gaza again, not enough to obviously rebuild all of Gaza, but does that help deal with the immediate crisis? What what does that do? It would help deal with immediate crisis. But it depends on on who would eventually be the implementing agency on the ground. cuz when the way that it works in the aid world is, you have USAA. D, for example, they don't implement. So they basically so contracted to the Red Cross the care to save the children to whoever. And these guys need to purchase it and need to bring it in if they get the clearance. So it's, it's not going to be $9 billion. Okay, and we're gonna push it all in and a month, it's I think it's going to take a long time. But the more entry points, the better. It's basically, the more that they open up, the more aid that's coming in. And, again, I think I think that the, again, back to the things that are one of the major things that are jeopardizing, like, it's hard to do the work there is you are limited in the capacity of eight workers with experience that who, who, and you are limited in where you can actually go. The it's a it's a war zone. So there's specific areas you enter and all the rest, you can go. So there's so many changes, like, every day that it's really, really hard to know what's what's, what's going to happen tomorrow, and you can plan on sending 20 trucks tomorrow, and then suddenly, something happens. And it will freeze for a few days on the border. So but it's a good movement forward. The the $9 billion of aid I think that and again, I'm listening to Israeli news, but we always hear the Israeli government, all the different officials, we hear the army officials, all the security officials saying aid has to flow into Gaza else it's going to be a catastrophe and Israel would eventually have to take control and take care of the Palestinians in Gaza. So it's it's there are discussions there is there are stuff happening and we just try just the work we will we do whatever you can to just work and hopeful I really hope for a tide and the Jewish community now. I really, really hope for a tight because we do not say government money, all our we do not accept government money not only for here, anywhere we work. Because sometimes it comes with strings. So basically, we depend on corporations on private donations and, and so it's it's easier to you know, you when you don't have those political strings, it's easier to do what you think is best.


Madeleine Cereghino  53:09

That leads me to our last question, actually. How can individuals and communities around the world support humanitarian efforts, obviously monetary donations, but anything outside of that as well? What do you mean? Is there anything else they can do besides don't give money? Or is it really just financial?



With Gaza? Unfortunately, it's only money. I can tell you from the Israeli experience, the Israeli experience was people came and volunteered people donated money and people donated goods. At this point, you cannot enter Gaza and donating goods-- you need to understand that there is also a culture so let's say that you need to purchase local items I would never purchase something that is not traditionally acceptable to the local community. That just a crazy example that uh, some in Africa and one of the wars we saw Western cherry, a Western charity bringing in donated goods from the US wishes you and I would eat it, but these guys the community doesn't know what it is. Even the cat is not touching it. So donating it purchasing goods like don't any goods unfortunately won't be helpful because I'm not so sure that the Palestinians would eat it they need they have their own food that they want. And we just need to respect that.


Hadar Susskind  55:11

Well, Sahar, first of all I want to thank you for for joining us. But much more than that, I want to thank you for doing this work. But in addition to doing this work, really for speaking publicly about this work, because again, the first conversations we had were, you know, when you were doing this, but you were doing this quietly, and I think we all understand why, why you were nervous about what might the response be in Israel? What might it be in the global Jewish community? And frankly, what might it be among your, you know, companies that are donors and supporters of your work? And so I think, you know, the work is clearly incredibly important, but the bravery of of being willing to come out and talk about it, I think, is really important to and you know, I'm going to add on a note to what Madeline's last question was about what can you do, because I think there are things for us to do that are different than your work. And those are things like supporting not just legislation that is going to send money for aid, but supporting our government in its efforts to push and to make sure that things like opening the Ashdod port and the arrows crossing and other things happened to help facilitate that. So there is a lot to be done. And the work that you guys are doing on the ground is just so important. So again, thank you. Thank you for joining us today. And we look forward to being in touch and supporting what you're doing. Thank you very much. Thank you. All right, and thanks, everyone, for joining us. Goodbye.

Statement on House Israel-Gaza Aid Supplemental Bill

April 18, 2024 - Americans for Peace Now welcomes the release of the Israel-Gaza Aid Supplemental text in the House of Representatives. In the wake of Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack on Israel this week, we continue to support assistance that enables Israel to defend itself against Iran and other adversaries.

As important, this package contains vital humanitarian assistance to Gaza at a time when millions of Palestinians are facing famine and a lack of medical care and housing.

We continue to call for conditions to be placed on US military aid to Israel. Although this text does not include any new guardrails on the aid to Israel, there are existing mechanisms and laws to prevent the misuse of US military aid including section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act and the National Security Memorandum issued in February. It is imperative that the President utilizes these existing mechanisms and laws to ensure that our assistance is used in accordance with American policy.

APN’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “The Israel-Gaza aid supplemental bill should be passed by Congress and signed by President Biden. And like any and all aid to Israel, it should be used as mandated by American policy and international human rights law. The US must uphold the important principles of allyship while remaining consistent with our democratic values.”

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Legislative Round-Up- April 12, 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.

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Out of the Shadows: War with Iran (Hard Questions, Tough Answers- April 15, 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.

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