Progress and Pinkwashing


In 1988, Israel decriminalized homosexuality, and within five years, the country had begun allowing openly gay soldiers to serve in the military and instituted a ban on anti-LGBTQ employment discrimination. Since 2006, Israel has recognized same-sex marriages performed abroad; 2008 marked the year that Israel began allowing same-sex couples to adopt children together; and, in 2014, Israel lowered the minimum age requirement for gender-affirming surgery for the transgender community. Just this month, incoming Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced that he would remove all questions about sexual activity from questionnaires for prospective blood donors, thus allowing gay men to give blood.

Over the past twenty-three years, LGBTQ rights have progressed at warp speed in Israel. In Tel Aviv, a city where only twenty or thirty years ago gay men were harassed on the streets by bullies both civilian and police, there is now a Municipal LGBT Center. Funded by the city government, this center aims to support, educate, and empower the city’s LGBTQ residents. The idea that taxpayer funds could go toward such an effort – especially in a state so influenced by intolerant religious attitudes – is nothing short of revolutionary.

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President Trump's controversial US Ambassador to Israel has demonstrated that APN was right to oppose his confirmation and subsequently call for his firing.

Based on his actions, statements, and our off-the-record conversations with informed insiders, it is clear that David Friedman is the chief architect behind the Trump administration's thinly concealed push to kill the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Friedman File is APN's comprehensive record documenting the deeds of the settlements enthusiast-cum-ambassador since he assumed his post.

Friedman File

Update on January 10, 2021

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From Creeping to Leaping: Annexation in the Trump-Netanyahu Era (updated October 2019)

Ori Nir and Debra Shushan, April 2018 (updated October 2019)

download or view as a pdf here


Since President Donald Trump took office, the Israeli right has launched an unprecedented drive to alter the West Bank’s legal status, piecemeal or in its entirety. In this paper, updating analysis first released in April 2018, we lay out the developments that present a quantum leap in Israeli annexation efforts and analyze them against the backdrop of Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank. Further, we examine the ramifications of the transition from “creeping” to “leaping” annexation and present explanations for why this transformation is happening now.

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APN's Debra Shushan: Ha'aretz Opinion - "American Jews, Don't Walk Away From Israel"

Go HERE for "American Jews, Resist Netanyahu Like He's Trump" by Ori Nir, APN Director of Communications and Public Engagement.

Netanyahu's re-election is a black day for solidly liberal American Jews, whose relations with a pro-Trump Israel were already in crisis. But we can't give up

Already in crisis, relations between Israel and American Jews are headed for a harsh reckoning in the wake of this week's victory by Israel’s right-wing bloc, helmed by the once and perpetual prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

While American Jews remain overwhelmingly liberal - one of the most solidly progressive constituencies in the U.S., despite President Donald Trump’s absurd attempts to promote a "Jexodus" – the majority of Israelis have jettisoned Israel’s founding values of socialist Zionism to move ever rightward.

What William Galston observed months ago is now indisputably true: Israel has become a Trump-enamored red state, while American Jews are the bluest of blue staters, who view Trump as an existential threat, both to our safety and to the liberal society in which we have flourished.

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Full article published in The Hill on January 28, 2019

In a perversely ironic turn, a law intended to aid American victims of international terrorist attacks will strike a serious blow to counterterrorism cooperation that keeps Israelis (and Americans visiting Israel) safe.

The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) will take effect on February 1. Unless it is adequately amended or repealed before then, the law will damage Israeli national security and U.S. foreign policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Time is short, and Congress must take action.

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Shaqued Morag in Netanyahu's Newspaper: Netanyahu Sustains Hamas to Avoid Peace with Abbas

Peace Now's director general Shaqued Morag today published an important article lambasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his anti-peace policies. It should be noted that the article was published in the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom. 

To view the Hebrew article online click here

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Amid a barrage of anti-Palestinian actions, a tacit endorsement of Israel’s West Bank annexation, and an occupation-denying U.S. Ambassador, are the big guns of U.S. Jewry – AIPAC, ADL, AJC, JFNA – really too afraid to rock the boat with Trump?

While Donald Trump’s word salad du jour on Israeli-Palestinian peace vacillates between one state and two, it is by now clear that his administration has jettisoned the longtime bipartisan U.S. goal of a two-state solution. Nothing the administration has said indicates that it embraces this vision, and everything it does undermines it. 

Where does that leave American Jewish establishment organizations which have made the two-state solution a pillar of their policy on Israel? 

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In conversation with Jafar Farah and Nabila Espanioly of the Mossawa Center, APN Political Director Debra Shushan moderated "The Nation-State Law: Implications for Democracy and Peace in Israel/Palestine" on September 27. Watch the video to see how Palestinian citizens of Israel are responding to the new Israeli law that has relegated them to second-class status -- and why they are taking their case abroad. 


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There are no adults in the room, anonymous or not, diligently frustrating Trump's cruel, disastrous Mideast policy, only arsonists - Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman - dousing the house with kerosene

New revelations in recent days from inside the White House provide yet more evidence of the disaster unfolding at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

One of the most astonishing stories told in Bob Woodward’s new book, "Fear," is that of President Donald Trump’s senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who reportedly swiped a letter from Trump’s desk which - had the president signed it - would have withdrawn the U.S. from a trade agreement with South Korea. (According to Cohn, Trump never realized it was missing.)

More amazing still is the complementary claim by an anonymous senior Trump administration official that s/he and many others are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations."

Such subversion of presidential authority is certainly problematic. But given an amoral president with a fifth- or sixth-grader's understanding  of world affairs (as Defense Secretary James Mattis is said to have described Donald Trump), one can be forgiven for wishing for adults in the room.

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It has become axiomatic that a widening schism exists in relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Relations with American Jews (who constitute over 70% of Diaspora Jewry) are increasingly fraught. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems unperturbed. After all, who needs American Jews when (in his view) evangelical Christians are better friends to Israel? Against that backdrop, Israelis who are concerned about the rift, like former IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner, deserve kudos.
Unfortunately, the proposals Lerner advances in his recent piece (“4 Things Israel Can Do To Heal The Divide With The Diaspora”) are woefully inadequate. Lerner focuses on tools the Israeli government could use to pull Diaspora Jews closer to Israel. These include well-worn ideas like de-emphasizing Aliya and focusing instead on spreading awareness of Jewish culture and offering Hebrew classes in the Diaspora – this time through a new NGO dubbed the Jewish World Alliance. He envisions a new Jewish Global Assembly, convened annually to discuss challenges and opportunities; the creation of “global virtual meeting place” for Jews worldwide; and programs for young Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to cultivate relationships.

It is not tools — new organizations and programming — that are lacking. It is a willingness to listen to Diaspora Jews and change course from policies and attitudes which repel us.

As a whole, we hold a deep affinity for Israel. According to a 2018 American Jewish Committee survey, 70% of US Jews feel that “caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.” Similarly, 79% believe a “thriving State of Israel is vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people.” While we are loyal American citizens and (with few exceptions) have no intention of making Aliyah, many of us regard Israel as the state in which our national self-determination is realized. To a growing number, sadly, it feels like Israel is pushing us away.

If Israel cares to bridge the gap, what should it do?

Learn to Tolerate (and Appreciate) Critical Engagement

Through its 2017 Entry Law that denies entry to Israel by those who promote boycotts against Israel (defined to include boycotts against Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories), Israel conveyed clearly that it has a political litmus test for admission to Israel.

The uptick in Shin Bet interrogations at Ben-Gurion Airport of American Jews who support Palestinian rights — including avowed Zionists like Peter Beinart and Meyer Koplow — shows that Israel is moving in the wrong direction.

While many Diaspora Jews maintain a love for Israel, we are increasingly shedding an Israel-right-or-wrong attitude in favor of critical engagement.

Israel can harass or even ban us. But if Israelis care about the Diaspora, we must be able to engage each other.

Work for Palestinian Statehood and an End to the Occupation

Lerner emphasizes listening to young people, and rightly so. But Israel must be prepared to hear them.

What young Jews joining J Street U chapters on campuses and starting organizations like IfNotNow in the US and Na’amod: British Jews Against the Occupation are saying is that their Jewish values and love for Israel inspire them to work for Palestinian human rights and an end to the Occupation.

While Israel is not solely to blame for lack of peace with Palestinians, as long as the Netanyahu government pushes toward annexing the West Bank and maintains a punitive closure of Gaza, the drift from Israel by young Diaspora Jews will continue.

Respect Non-Orthodox Streams of Judaism

Only 11% of American Jews classify themselves as Haredi or Modern Orthodox, with the rest identifying with different denominations or as “other.” An overwhelming majority of American Jews believe Israel should respect religious pluralism. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cancelation of an agreement to create a mixed-gender prayer area adjacent to the Western Wall and the recent arrest of a Conservative rabbi in Haifa for performing a wedding exacerbate the Israel-Diaspora divide.

The decision by lawmakers to leave out of the new Nation-State Law language which would have acknowledged a role for world Jewry in Israel was yet another swipe at Diaspora Jews.

Taking steps toward recognition of religious pluralism would go a long way toward earning the good will of Diaspora Jews.

Affirm Social Justice and Democracy as Shared Values

Minority status is part and parcel of the Diaspora Jewish experience. Liberal democratic protections of minority rights and civil liberties are dear to American Jews and dovetail with the Judaism on which we were raised, which emphasizes social justice and tikkun olam.

The undeniable erosion of liberal democracy in Israel is raising alarm not only among political progressives but also by conservatives like Ron Lauder, a longtime Netanyahu supporter, who recently decried actions by members of Israel’s coalition government to “unintentionally undermine the covenant between Judaism and enlightenment.”

Disturbing efforts by the Israeli government to curtail freedom of speech regarding Israel on American college campuses in the name of combating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions teach young Diaspora Jews that Israel’s growing illiberalism doesn’t stop at its border. And that does not bode well for future Diaspora-Jewish relations.

Stop Coddling Foreign Leaders Who Endanger Diaspora Jews

What message does it send to American Jews, the majority of whom disapprove of Donald Trump and feel our status is less secure since he became president, when Netanyahu lionizes Trump by comparing him to Cyrus the Great?

It is a similar message to the one received by Hungarian Jews when Netanyahu engages in an “illiberal bromance” with their Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who made anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros a feature of his re-election campaign.

While Israeli leaders should conduct foreign policy in Israel’s national interests, they should do so with an eye to the security and sensitivities of Diaspora Jewish communities.

Diaspora Jews care greatly about Israel and are distressed over the growing Israel-Diaspora rift. Some have come to the conclusion that Israel just doesn’t care about us. So it’s encouraging to find Israelis like Peter Lerner for whom ties to the Diaspora still matter a great deal.

The question is: Will Israel listen to our concerns and meet us halfway?

This article appeared first on the Forward on August 23, 2018

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