The Israeli government’s gift to Washington this holiday season was the gift of occupation. Literally so. You may have missed the story because of the holiday, but shortly before Christmas, Benjamin Netanyahu’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, proudly announced that this year, instead of sending products made in Israel to American friends, he is breaking with tradition and sending gift boxes containing products made exclusively in settlements in the occupied territories.
Allegedly, this was intended as a message to those who call for punitive economic measures against Israel (ironically, it plays into their hands), but it clearly was aimed at the Obama administration’s rejection of Netanyahu’s settlement policies. Another Netanyahu finger in the eye of an American administration that had the audacity to attempt to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Unwrap Bibi’s brazen gift, and you will find an important message for us, too. You’ll find Bibi’s vision. His vision for Israel is perpetuating the occupation, perpetuating Israel’s character as a garrison state, a state that permanently subjugates another, perpetuating a state that prefers settlements over peace and risks becoming a bi-national Apartheid state, wrecked by civil war and shunned by the international community. Moreover, Netanyahu is consistently failing to grant Israel’s citizens what they so much deserve – a diplomatic initiative leading to a political settlement with the Palestinians.
Ours is an entirely different vision for Israel. Our future Israel is a state that strives to fulfill its declaration of independence, a state true to its founding values of peace, democracy, and justice, a state that rids itself of the occupation, heals itself of the maladies caused by almost fifty years of occupation, and lives in peace with its neighbors.
We at Americans for Peace Now and our Israeli colleagues at Shalom Achshav, Israel’s Peace Now movement, work tirelessly to make this vision a reality. When Netanyahu plans more settlement construction, we expose it and fight publicly and legally to thwart it. When Bibi’s government initiates anti-democratic legislation, we sound the alarm – both in Israel and in the U.S. – to oppose it. When he risks Israel’s national security to score political points by humiliating the president of Israel’s chief ally, we call him on it. And when he tries to sneak his annexationist agenda to Capitol Hill and anchor it in legislation, APN is the first to react.
In 2015, as in past years, we were at the forefront of efforts to oppose Bibi’s occupation policies. We will continue to be there tomorrow and throughout the new year.
We can’t do it without your help. On this last day of 2015, please make a generous, tax deductible gift to support our work.
P.S. Our holiday gift to you is very different. During Hanukkah, we ran a holiday gift campaign, offering you or a loved one the gift of learning. To take advantage of our Spread the Light offer, click here.