Between Benjamin Netanyahu’s peace-rejectionism and his government’s moves towards annexation, the extreme right settlers’ acts of violence and vandalism, and the Trump administration’s anti-peace policies, the beginning of the past year felt like the worst of times.
Some fear a collapse of the possibility of a two-state solution entirely.
But now, at last, there is some good news to share.
As a journalist who has reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for many years, I know how helpful being able to read the local media is, the news items, the Op-Eds and the analysis, in order to get a fuller picture of what is happening on the ground and to get a pulse from the commentators. That requires not only knowledge of the local languages, but also time, a limited commodity for all.
Eight years ago, APN approached me while I was on maternity leave and asked me if I would be interested in writing a daily review of the four main Hebrew newspapers, with a focus on the the conflict, settlers, Arab-Israelis, diplomacy and security. I was thrilled at the opportunity to continue working in the news and at the same time stay at home with my child.
And so began News Nosh.
Appearances can be deceiving. The cafes of Tel Aviv bustle and are full. Families gather in the gardens of Haifa and float on the Dead Sea. Even in Jerusalem all appears calm, and the slight whiff of imminent apprehension is barely detectable. The conflict does not impinge upon the good life.
And yet, tensions simmer. Another Israel exists. Check the budget and see how a constant state of alert devastates funding for Israeli education, for social services, and for investment in infrastructure. Stroll the cemeteries, and see dates of death following dates of birth in quick succession. Too quick. Examine the passerby and count the war injuries, visible in the wheelchairs and the prostheses. Read the public opinion polls giving voice to the low esteem in which the “Occupier,” is held. Visit the mosques in Nablus or in Gaza and hear the hatred dripping venomously from the imams’ tongues. And then ask yourself, soberly, is doing nothing but accepting the status quo the best possible program?
Choosing fear removes "us" from the equation and makes us live in a way where there is no choice but endless war and occupation, and continual settlement building where this all becomes a fait accompli. Hope, on the other hand, puts "us" back into the equation, believing that Israelis can build a secure home for themselves, living in peace with their neighbors.
Israeli elections are over. Any hopes that we may have had for electoral change that would garner pro-peace leadership are dashed.
Facing three indictments, Benjamin Netanyahu may soon leave the political scene.
Meanwhile, we have a reinvigorated Netanyahu, backed by his political twin Donald Trump, pushed hard by his extreme right-wing coalition partners to deliver his campaign promise of West Bank annexation.
Let’s not mince words, my friends: With Trump’s blessing, Netanyahu is on his way to officially, legally, establish an apartheid regime in the West Bank, and make it even harder for future Israeli leaders to make peace. Let’s be clear: Yesterday’s elections have put Netanyahu and his allies on a faster, surer track to destroy Israel’s democracy and to further crush its ethos of equality, justice, and tolerance.
For us, progressive Americans who care about Israel, today is a call to action. Today, we are redoubling our commitment to the cause of a democratic Israel that lives in peace and security with its neighbors and embodies the values we so strongly believe in.
As we approach this year’s Passover Seder, I’m writing to wish you all a happy holiday and to explain why your support — ongoing or first-time — is so important for Americans for Peace Now and Shalom Achshav. As a veteran of Israel’s strategic security establishment who currently, in semi-retirement, writes (compulsively! almost daily! weekly in my Q & A for APN!) about Israel-related security issues, I hope you will permit me in this connection a brief Pesach reminiscence.
Lately, my own research and writing efforts have taken me back to the events of Passover 2002. On March 27, Erev Pesach, a Hamas suicide bomber attacked several hundred people gathered for a Seder at the Park Hotel, near the beach in Netanya in central Israel. He killed 30 Israelis and maimed some 160 others.
Let’s help our brothers and sisters of Shalom Achshav put peace on the agenda. Let’s help them make sure that one million Israelis see this film, and that these elections are about the issues that really matter for Israel’s future.
Go HERE for more and to support Peace Now's efforts.
Seven years ago, Amos Oz stopped by APN’s Washington DC office to record this video. It was a last-moment initiative. I scrambled to prepare our clunky recording equipment, and then rushed to meet him at the elevator. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. I’ve read all his books – some of them twice – and have always admired him for his literary achievements and for his dedication to peace and security for Israel.
Out of the elevator emerged a short, modest man, warm and upbeat.
As I attached the microphone to his jacket, I told him that his book A Tale of Love and Darkness helped me better know my mother. She grew up in the same Jerusalem neighborhood as he did, not far from his parents’ home, and shared many of the childhood experiences Oz describes in the book. He saw how emotional I was. He placed his warm hand on my shoulder and said: “This makes me very happy, your relationship with your mother.”