Please join us for a briefing call with Yariv Oppenheimer, the Director of Israel’s Peace Now movement, on Monday, October 13, at 11:00 AM Eastern Time.

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"Un-American" ?

Approving new settlement construction on the eve of his meeting with Obama wasn’t enough. Blaming Peace Now for the White House’s criticism of settlement expansion wasn’t enough either. Prime Minister Netanyahu just had to stick a finger in President Obama’s eye by accusing him of being un-American.

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Building for Peace, Sukkot 5775

Sukkat_Shalom2_Slot_320x265Beginning Wednesday night, October 8th, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins. During the week-long holiday, Jews build a special kind of home to dwell in for the week, called a sukkah. The sukkah is a deliberately temporary house, which can have no more than one permanent wall, and whose roof must be open to the sky, covered only partially by natural materials such as branches. Over the course of the week, the Sukkah is supposed to be one’s home: to eat meals in, to celebrate, and even to sleep in.

Our Israeli sister organization, Peace  Now,  broke the news that on the eve of Rosh Hashana, when the Netanyahu government hoped that nobody was paying attention it went ahead with final approval of a plan for construction of a new settlement in East Jerusalem –2,610 housing units in Givat Hamatos.

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Blaming the Messenger: Bibi & Friends Attack Peace Now

On October 1, the Israeli Peace Now movement broke the news that on the eve of Rosh Hashana, when nobody was paying attention, the Netanyahu government went ahead with final approval of a plan for construction of a new settlement in East Jerusalem – Givat Hamatos.  To understand why this plan is so significant and problematic, see this analysis from Peace Now.  For further dismantling of the excuses offered by Netanyahu and other settlement apologists after news of the approval came out, see this analysis from Danny Seidemann.

The news of this new settlement approval – which came on the heels of the takeover of 7 new properties by settlers in Silwan – cast a pall over Netayahu’s subsequent meeting in Washington, DC with President Obama.  In the wake of that meeting, and following statements from the Obama Administration condemning the new settlement approval, Netanyahu and his fellow settlement defenders/apologists apparently decided that their best defense would be to go on offense – against Peace Now. 

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This week, Alpher offers further comments on Netanyahu's UN General Assembly speech; whether ISIS and Hamas are both "fruits of the same poisonous tree", as Netanyahu stated; how, as Netanyahu mentioned, Israel improving relations with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi (i.e., the United Arab Emirates) in order to counter Iran and ISIS could "eventually" benefit the two-state solution; were the East Jerusalem settlement announcements a deliberate provocation by Netanyahu to humiliate Obama, or yet another case of cognitive dissonance between the two sides?

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A Lack of National Responsibility

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a rough meeting in the Oval Office yesterday.

President Obama chided him for Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Right after the meeting, administration officials provided a glance into what Netanyahu probably heard from Obama. New settlement activity “will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians, but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Netanyahu was fuming as he left the White House for New York, where he told Israeli reporters who he thinks is responsible for the rocky meeting with President Obama.

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Peace Now: Why is Givat Hamatos So Significant?


On 24 September, 2014 the Jerusalem local Planning and Construction Committee published an ad in a local Jerusalem weekly announcing the validation of plan No. 14295 for the construction of 2,610 housing units in Givat Hamatos (link to the ad). Following the harsh reactions of the Americans, Netanyahu tried to argue that there was nothing to criticize him about. Here are a few facts following Netanyahu's claims:
 

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Press Release: APN to Obama: Tell Netanyahu to Block Plans for New East Jerusalem Settlement

Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) in sharply condemning Israel's final approval of a plan for the construction of a new settlement in East Jerusalem, which would severely complicate a future two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

APN calls on President Obama to take advantage of his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the White House today to demand that the plan be cancelled.

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Yom Kippur 2014/5775: We can change the story now

rocky-mountain-sheep-portrait267x200Beginning this Friday evening and continuing through Saturday night, the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will be observed by Jews throughout the world.  This year, on Rosh Hashana, ethicist Michael Walzer reminded us that throughout the season leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews engage in the accounting of one's soul -cheshbon nefesh: we examine our behavior, taking an honest measure of ourselves in the year that has passed.  This self-reflection reaches its pinnacle on Yom Kippur.

On the second day of Rosh Hashana, we read the Torah portion in which Abraham brings his son Isaac up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him. This story is part of cycle of readings that begins on the first day of Rosh Hashana with the story of Hagar and Ishmael being cast out into the desert. Many commentaries note that the two readings are connected - that the (near-) sacrifice of Isaac is a measure for measure punishment of Sarah and Abraham for their treatment of Hagar and Ishmael - a "see how you feel" moment, as it were.

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Peace Now: Settlers Take Over 6 Houses in Silwan

Settlers entered last night (30.09.2014) into 6 buildings in Silwan, in the area of Wadi Hilweh creating a new reality in the sensitive area, just few meters from Jerusalem's Old City and Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque). Despite settlers claim to have purchased the buildings from Palestinians, some owners of the buildings are denying any sale and have begun operating in order to evacuate the settlers, among others, through legal procedures.

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