Published online and in the printed edition of the Jewish Journal


by Mark Bilsky, Deputy CEO of Americans for Peace Now

This is not a season that invites calm reflection. Too much is in play. The agenda is crowded with controversy. New possibilities tantalize but have yet to come into focus. We are inundated with talk of “competing narratives” alongside the growing controversies over quarantine, democracy, annexation, land, peace, income disparities and ethnic disparities.

It’s easy to get lost in these issues and they have become so much the focus of not only the daily news but of Israel’s story itself that the disposition to celebrate has come to feel insensitive, requiring an apology. But a celebration that must be shrink-wrapped in an apology is no celebration at all.

What then to do? The moment you cast caution aside and start listing the achievements, you bump into checkpoints. Say that Israel has fulfilled its destiny as a Jewish haven, and you will be told that it has done so only at the expense of the Other. Say that Israel’s economy has developed, and you will be told it’s because of foreign subsidies and at the cost of a tremendous income gap. Say that brainpower has emerged as Israel’s most important resource, and you will be told about the decline in Israel’s education system. Say that Israel has no partner for peace and you will be told to look at yourself in the mirror.

THE MOMENT YOU CAST CAUTION ASIDE AND START LISTING THE ACHIEVEMENTS, YOU BUMP INTO CHECKPOINTS. SAY THAT ISRAEL HAS FULFILLED ITS DESTINY AS A JEWISH HAVEN, AND YOU WILL BE TOLD THAT IT HAS DONE SO ONLY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE OTHER.

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Online at Washington Jewish Week

March 25, 20200

By APN Chair James Klutznick and APN Vice Chair Aviva Meyer

As global crises typically do, the coronavirus — its spread, and the looming threat it poses to humankind — provides us with a sense of perspective.

COVID-19 does not discriminate between Israelis and Palestinians. When threatened by this deadly virus, the two peoples worry together and work together to save lives.

When the forces of nature remind us how vulnerable we are — how equally vulnerable we are — we are humbled. And humbled before these forces, we demonstrate our shared humanity.

Pictured Left: In Hebron, Palestinian women work in a factory amid precautions against the coronavirus (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA); Right: In Jerusalem, an Israeli medic arrives to test a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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Letting a religious zealot like Ambassador Friedman decide the future of the West Bank is like allowing the NRA chief to distribute the U.S. army's rifles among the most fanatical gun enthusiasts 

by Ori Nir (Mar 09, 2020)

While we are following the roller coaster of American and Israeli politics, and as we seek shelter from the alarming spread of the Coronavirus, a committee representing the government of Israel and the Trump administration is carving out vast swaths of the occupied West Bank territory – some 30 percent – for Israel to annex. The mapping will apparently be completed in a matter of weeks, and an Israeli government could go ahead and annex the territory shortly after the committee completes its work.

Let it sink in: After decades of efforts by Republican and Democratic U.S. administrations to reign in Israeli governments’ West Bank settlement practices, the Trump administration is now leading the effort to determine the contours of the settlements, recognizing as them as part of sovereign Israel. 

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APN / Peace Now In the News - February 25-27, 2020

The Jerusalem Post: "Bennett advances 1,800 new settler homes, says won’t give land to Arabs" (February 27, 2020)

Peace Now said of the plans, “The caretaker government, without a public and moral mandate, sets facts on the ground for a small and extreme minority, against the will of the majority. In the battle over the settler right-wing vote, Bennett and Netanyahu are dragging Israel to invest in thousands of harmful and unnecessary settlement units. This is how a cynical and irresponsible leadership that is willing to abandon the Israeli interest for its political survival behaves."

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San Francisco Chronicle (AP): "Watchdog: Israel moves ahead with hundreds of settler homes" (February 27, 2020)

Israel is moving forward on plans to build more than 1,700 homes for settlers in the West Bank, the settlement watchdog Peace Now said Thursday.

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The Times of Israel: "UN slams ‘worrying’ Israeli plans to build in West Bank, East Jerusalem" (February 26, 2020)

The Peace Now settlement watchdog reported that Defense Ministry officials met with planners last week to prepare an outline for a new road for Palestinians that would go around E1 and Ma’aleh Adumim and allow Israel to annex the area.

“The only roads Israel paved for Palestinians in its 52 years of control over the Territories were designed to allow Israel to build settlements or barriers that block existing Palestinian routes,” Peace Now said, blasting the road plan.

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Jerusalem Post: "Peace Now: Tender issued for 1,077 homes in Givat Hamatos" (February 25, 2020)

Peace now warned that the settlement would “sever” the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian Jerusalem-Bethlehem metropolitan area.

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New York Times (AP): "Netanyahu Plans Settlement in Contentious West Bank Area" (February 25, 2020)

Israeli activist group Peace Now said in a statement that settlement construction in E1 “means that Israel is officially choosing to perpetuate the conflict instead of resolving it.”

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The Jerusalem Post: "Netanyahu: Mapping process has begun, sovereignty to follow" (February 25, 2020)

Netanyahu has pushed forward the project to help cement Israel’s hold on a united Jerusalem. Peace Now has warned that it would “sever” the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian Jerusalem-Bethlehem metropolitan area.

“Construction in Givat Hamatos is a serious blow to the two-state solution,” Peace Now said. “This is the last point enabling territorial continuity between Bethlehem and east Jerusalem.”

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APN / Peace Now In the News - February 20, 2020

The Times of Israel (Live Now): "Peace Now: New East Jerusalem building plans a ‘serious blow’ to two-state solution" (February 20, 2020)

The Peace Now settlement watchdog group calls Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement of the construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem a “serious blow” to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is the last point that can allow territorial contiguity between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem — the most significant Palestinian metropolitan area — and if the neighborhood is built, it will not be possible to connect the two cities,” the group says in a statement.

The group calls the move “another cynical election exercise” by Netanyahu and questions whether his transitional government has the legal authority to move forward with the new construction.

It also says despite Netanyahu’s backing of the recently unveiled Trump peace plan, “he is doing everything possible to preclude the chances for peace and prevent a resolution of the conflict.”

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Al-Monitor: "Despite divisions in wake of Trump’s plan, Israelis & Palestinians labor for peace" (February 20, 2020)

Peace Now's Shaqued Morag: "Having ties with Peace Now is not normalization, because we support change to the existing situation, rather than preservation." She also said that when Peace Now representatives paid a visit to Ramallah after the release of the Trump plan, they did not encounter any opposition or threats. "I have never encountered a Palestinian who refused to meet with me about this. I believe that we must continue working together toward our common objective,” Morag added.

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New York Times: "Netanyahu Announces New Homes in East Jerusalem, Days Before Election" (February 20, 2020)

Peace Now, another Israeli anti-settlement group, said the plans amounted to “state suicide” by preventing any viable two-state option for the future. "If nobody stops it, then in a year or two they will begin to build" in Givat Hamatos, said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch department.

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The Jerusalem Post: "Netanyahu announces 2,200 new housing units in Jerusalem's Har Homa" (February 20, 2020)

“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is asking to land another fatal blow to the chances of a two-state solution for two peoples,” said Peace Now. “The planned neighborhood places a wedge in the heart of the Palestinian urban sprawl that exists between Ramallah and east Jerusalem, and as such prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu is leading Israel to the reality of a binational apartheid state and is putting the Zionist enterprise in jeopardy.”

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AFP: "Israel plans to build 9,000 more homes" (February 20, 2020 - published in The Daily Star and other news outlets)

Israel has developed plans to build 9,000 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, the first such project in the city in more than 20 years, watchdog Peace Now said Tuesday... the Atarot plan "also includes the demolition of dozens of Palestinian residential units that were built in the area without permits throughout the years."

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Jewish Press: "Report: Israel Plans to Build 9,000 Housing Units in Northeastern Jerusalem" (February 20, 2020)

Peace Now noted that if the plan is approved and the project is built, it will be the first time Jerusalem receives a new neighborhood since the Netanyahu government established Har Homa in 1997. “Netanyahu is dragging Israel into a reality of a bi-national apartheid state and is putting the Zionist enterprise in jeopardy,” Peace Now charged.

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APN/Peace Now In the News - January 29 - February 7, 2020

Middle East Eye: "Israel's Palestinian minority has good reason to fear Trump's plan" (February 7, 2020)

According to figures published by Peace Now this week, some 380,000 Palestinians – 260,000 in the Triangle and a further 120,000 in East Jerusalem – would be "swapped out" to a Palestinian state.

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The Times of Israel: "Thousands march in Tel Aviv against Trump plan" (February 2, 2020)

Organizers from the Peace Now anti-settlement group said thousands marched in the demonstration at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, held under the banner of “Peace plan, not annexation deal.”

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The Jerusalem Post: "Left rallies in Tel Aviv against ‘apartheid,’ ‘transfer’ plan" (February 2, 2020)

Peace Now organized the event, which included a march and a rally.

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NBC News: "Trump peace plan would likely extend decades-old conflict, analysts warn" (January 29, 2020)

Today, the West Bank is home to 2.6 million Palestinians and more than 400,000 Israelis, according to anti-settlement group Peace Now, and the area has long served as the center of Palestinian hopes for an independent state.

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APN / Peace Now In the News - January 20-23, 2020

The Times of Israel (Live Updates): "Peace Now: Any plan not based on 1967 borders will end up in dustbin of history" (January 23, 2020)

On the left, the Peace Now organization is also warning it probably won’t be a fan of the Trump peace plan. "Any proposal that does not include the formation of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders and the evacuation of solitary settlements is a deception that will end up in the dustbin of history," the group says.

The Jerusalem Post: "Arab family to be evicted from east Jerusalem home on formerly Jewish land" (January 21, 2020)

"This is an attempt to displace a Palestinian community and to replace it with an Israeli one, in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem," said Peace Now in response to the decision. "In addition to the hard blow to the prospects for a two-state solution by preventing a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, this is an injustice and an act of cruelty to throw out families who have lived lawfully in their homes for decades."

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Ha'aretz: "Anti-occupation, Pro-religious Pluralism Activists Aim Big in World Zionist Congress Vote" (January 20, 2020)

Organizations represented also include Aleph, Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair, the Jewish Labor Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, the New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel and T’ruah.

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France 24 (AFP): "Palestinian family pledge appeal over Jerusalem eviction ruling" (January 20, 2020)

The Israeli anti-settlement NGO Peace Now said a Jerusalem magistrates court ruled Sunday in favour of evicting the Rajabi family from their home in the Silwan neighbourhood following a lawsuit filed by members of the pro-settlement Ateret Cohanim organisation.

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APN / Peace Now In the News - January 15-16, 2020

Independent: "Israel to open seven new nature reserves in occupied West Bank" (January 16, 2020)

According to Israeli rights group Peace Now, which monitors settlement expansion, more than a third of the proposed location of the new reserves is on private Palestinian land, making it illegal even under Israeli law.

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Al Jazeera: "Israel creates seven 'nature reserves' in occupied West Bank" (January 15, 2020)

According to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, the designated reserves total about 5,300 hectares (13,096 acres), some 40 percent of it under private Palestinian ownership. Under Israel laws regulating nature reserves, Palestinians would be forbidden to cultivate their own land, the Peace Now's Hagit Ofran said.

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France 24 (AFP): "Israel turns swathes of occupied West Bank into 'nature reserves'" (January 15, 2020)

Under Israel laws regulating nature reserves, Palestinians would be forbidden to cultivate their own land, the NGO's [Peace Now's] Hagit Ofran said. "If it's a nature reserve, then you can uproot their (Palestinians') trees and tell them they need a special permit for any agricultural activity," she told AFP.

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Yossi Alpher responds to critique of "Israel and U.S. Jews must break their shared silence"

Israeli security expert Yossi Alpher's response to a Washington Jewish Week letter to the editor critiquing APN activist Barbara Green's opinion piece "Israel and U.S. Jews must break their shared silence

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APN / Peace Now In the News - December 24-31, 2019

The Times of Israel: "High Court hampers settlement group’s ability to receive public funds" (December 31, 2020)

The ruling came after a February petition from the settlement watchdog Peace Now against Amana, a group that promotes settlements, in which the former argued Amana has been illegally receiving millions of shekels from regional and local councils beyond the Green Line.

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Washington Jewish Week: "More about those ‘bad' Israeli soldiers" by Yossi Alpher (December 24, 2019)

...American Jewish organizations like Americans for Peace Now that host Breaking the Silence always unfailingly condemn Palestinian violence against Israelis. Just check their websites...

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Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "Vying for seats at World Zionist Congress, liberal newcomers like Peter Beinart hope to block Israeli settlements funding"(December 24, 2019)

Morton Klein, the president of the conservative Zionist Organization of America, is acutely aware of the changes that an expanded Hatikvah list could bring. He noted that at least one group on the expanded Hatikvah list, Americans for Peace Now, supports boycotting settlement goods.

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