It’s not too late to make your year-end tax deductible gift to support Americans for Peace Now. Your donation enables Peace Now and APN to do everything we do. It helps us in our efforts, in Israel and the U.S., to marshal support for positions and actions that advance the cause of peace and the two-state solution. It empowers us to work through education, activism and advocacy at all levels — from the grassroots to policymakers. It enables us to be beacons supporting what is right, without concern for what is politically easier or organizationally advantageous. It lets us speak truth to the powers that would hide it.
At the darkest time of winter, Jews celebrate Chanukah, adding one candle each night to increase the light. Many of us place our menorah in a window in fulfillment of the mitzvah to “publicize the miracle” of the small cruse of oil that contained only enough for one day but lasted for eight.
This particular winter is an especially dark time for those of us who have been working for decades to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There’s no denying that the peace process has stalled. The parties are not talking to one another. The Occupation continues unabated. We read of growing violence. Some people have even begun to question the possibility of a two-state solution.
I know that the headlines are terrible, and that people are throwing up their hands and feeling defeated. "The two-state solution is hopeless," they say. "We will never have peace."
There is a new West Bank development nearing completion that I think you should know about. I say that because it can advance the cause of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The development is the almost-completed Palestinian city of Rawabi, some five miles north of Ramallah and twelve miles north of Jerusalem. It is a Palestinian planned community, built to serve the tech-savvy, entrepreneurial middle class. What’s more, Rawabi is the largest private sector employer in the West Bank. It is an impressive exercise in Palestinian entrepreneurship, self-reliance, creativity and ingenuity.
I grew up in a hopeful state. World leaders were welcomed at Ben Gurion Airport by the IDF marching band playing Naomi Shemer’s 1967 optimistic song Machar, (Tomorrow), a military march describing a state living in peace with its neighbors, and rather naively promising, “all this will happen tomorrow, if not today – and if not tomorrow then the day after.”
Have you ever seen a film and thought, "If only everyone could see that! People would start to think differently..."
Recently, you may have received a letter from Dror Moreh, the award-winning Israeli filmmaker of such a film, called The Gatekeepers. Moreh wrote this letter for Americans for Peace Now, the U.S. sister organization of Israel's peace movement, Shalom Achshav. This documentary film features all six living former leaders of Israel's Shin Bet security service, each of whom advocates a position they share with Shalom Achshav: that Israel must reach a negotiated peace agreement with a Palestinian partner. The letter was very successful - we were flooded with messages from people who wanted to see this incredibly important film and support the work of APN and Shalom Achshav.
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.
I write this letter as a blessed cease fire is just going into effect, — not the first cease fire, and I don’t know if this one will hold. But it may be, so we all hope, that the Gaza war is over. If not now, then very soon negotiations for a lasting cease fire or even for something that might look like peace will begin. I have no sense of how these negotiations will go, but all of us at Americans for Peace Now believe that this is an opportunity for Israel to act boldly to strengthen the Palestine Authority (PA) and its new unity government and, with its help, to prevent or strongly curtail the rearmament of Hamas and to open the way for reconstruction and economic development in Gaza. But Gaza is not alone. There can’t be a legitimate PA in Gaza unless Israel is ready to work with the PA in Ramallah for the two-state solution that we have been defending for so long. When you read this, you will know whether Israel and Palestine have moved closer, or farther away, from this necessary goal.
Meanwhile, we have to think about what is happening inside Israel itself. Before the war began, we followed with horror the news of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys and then of the murder of a Palestinian boy. Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir: in our hearts, these are all “our boys,” who died deaths that no child should.
Last semester, Ori Nir, APN’s Director of Communications and Public Engagement, came to American University to speak, and it was a jam-packed event. Some students came for the free pizza, but everyone stayed for Ori’s intelligent, open, and engaging conversation on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. That was when I knew I had to intern for APN.
Interning this summer with APN has given me invaluable tools to continue being a leader on campus and in general, and has taught me how to effectively do my part to work for peace. It is imperative that APN is able to continue their powerful campus outreach and internship programs. Please support APN’s efforts to empower the next leaders of the Jewish community and the country. I hope to raise $5,000 to help APN do this. At this time of chaos and violence, it is especially important that APN has the resources it needs to continue reaching out to young students and leaders who envision a brighter future. With APN’s help, we will work to make that future a reality.
Summer Intern, 2014
Americans for Peace Now
I would like to bring your attention to an article featuring APN’s summer intern Hamze Awawdeh, a young Palestinian from Dura, just outside of Hebron which ran in The Forward and was picked up by Ha’aretz.
Hamze is spending the summer with us as a part of our Joint Internship program with the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) . While we host a Palestinian intern, ATFP hosts an Israeli intern. For the past five years, through this program, Israeli and Palestinian students have worked jointly and forged close personal relationships.