Our shared humanity in a time of crisis

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.

When Israel was hit by a monstrous fire, Palestinian firefighters crossed the Green Line with their firetrucks and risked their lives to save Israelis. And when Palestinians are hit by COVID-19, Israel’s public health professionals work side by side with their Palestinian colleagues, supplying them with test kits, medicine and knowhow. “There are no borders here…There is no ‘them’ and ‘us,’” Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian, the commander of Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, told Israel Radio last week.

In such times, you cannot but wonder why Israelis and Palestinians do not harness their shared humanity, their common sense and their sense of common future to end the bloody conflict between them. Unlike pandemics, wildfires and earthquakes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is manmade. And this manmade calamity can be undone by humans – if they find it within themselves to relate to the other as humans, as equals, as equally human.

We at Americans for Peace Now know as well as anyone how complicated the conflict is. We’ve been documenting it and advocating ways to address and resolve its components for many years. We know how difficult it is to untangle the knots of problems like Jerusalem sovereignty, Palestinian refugees, security arrangements, and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. We know that this is not a “senseless” conflict, as some often depict it. It is a conflict between two national movements which claim the same piece of land. In some ways, this is a zero-sum conflict.

But we also know that in recent years, it was mainly attitudinal problems – attitudes among Israeli and Palestinian publics and leaders (and now the White House as well) – which obstructed progress toward conflict resolution. And we know that despite the zero-sum nature of the conflict, there is a win-win compromise solution for it, waiting to be adopted and implemented.

The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually abate and eventually disappear. We don’t know when and we don’t know how many of us, here in America and in the Middle East, it will impact.

We also know that once Coronavirus is contained and defeated, the Israelis and Palestinians that we so deeply care about will be left with a malignant conflict that has been plaguing their societies for almost a century.

There is a viable solution to this conflict, and we hope that the traumatic experience we are currently experiencing will make the solution easier to comprehend, grasp, and achieve.

We at APN, and our brothers and sisters at Israel’s Peace Now movement, will committedly continue to make our contribution to resolving the conflict.

In the coming days and weeks, APN’s staff members will be working offsite, away from our Washington DC office. Regardless, we will do our utmost to provide you with the high-quality educational materials on the conflict that you expect from us.

This is a difficult time for all of us, a truly tumultuous time for nonprofit organizations like ours. Knowing that we can rely on your support allows us to brave the challenges and continue working – both in Israel and the United States – to help pave the way toward conflict resolution.

Thank you for your support,

James B. Klutznick, Chair of the Board
and
Aviva Meyer, Vice Chair of the Board and Acting CEO

Hummus is no joke. Neither is peacemaking.

I heard that America’s largest hummus producer is introducing a new product: a dessert chocolate “hummus.”

And on the web, you will find recipes for brownie batter “hummus,” sweet potato “hummus,” as well as “hummus” cake and “hummus” milkshake.

Now listen, I know from hummus. Real hummus. My physique reflects it. I make my own, and I’m happy to share my tested recipe. So, let me tell you something: you don’t make hummus by calling your crazy concoction “hummus.” It doesn’t work that way.

And you don’t make peace by slapping a “peace plan” title on a cynical set of one-sided diktats, an exercise that is bound to escalate and deepen a complicated conflict. That’s not how you broker Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Unless you are Donald Trump.

Trump is the king of mendacity, the master of duplicity, the maestro of deceit. Trump’s world is a tapestry of lies masquerading as truth, falsehoods masquerading as facts, conspiracy theories dressed as realities, conflict-escalation posing as conflict-resolution, endless occupation spun as liberation, and national subjugation masked as sovereignty and statehood.

Trump is the essence of Purim’s topsy-turvy tradition.

Look at his appointees. He appointed an enemy of public education as his Secretary of Education, a climate change skeptic and a former coal industry lobbyist as EPA Administrators. And who did he appoint as his ambassador to Israel? Trump tapped his former bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, a national-religious zealot who called President Obama an anti-Semite, referred to pro-peace American Jews as "far worse than kapos," and vehemently opposed the two-state solution.

Friedman, the chief architect of Trump’s recently unveiled “vision” for future Israeli-Palestinian relations, is now the Trump administration’s front man in a joint US-Israeli committee that will carve out chunks of occupied territory – over 30 percent of the West Bank – for Israel to unilaterally annex, irrespective of any negotiations with the Palestinians.

Peace, Trump style. That’s his idea of brokering peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

On Purim, according to the Talmud, we are supposed to get drunk to the point in which we cannot tell the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman.”

Trump and his aides need neither Purim nor alcohol to dress up war as peace and occupation as liberation. Their deception is not in jest. Trump, Friedman and Kushner’s tactics of chaos and confusion are deliberate. They serve a purpose, an agenda, the settlers’ agenda of perpetuating the occupation and denying Palestinians sovereignty and statehood.

Peacemaking is serious business. It’s neither Purim nor hummus. Trump’s White House turned it into a travesty. We must not normalize it.

We at APN and our colleagues at Israel’s Peace Now movement, are pulling the mask off Trump’s sham. We will continue to advocate and educate for real peace, for a serious approach to resolving the conflict that plagues the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Enjoy the holiday, and please support us.

Ori Nir
APN Director of Communications and Public Engagement

P.S. Receive Peace Now's unique deck of playing cards, which serves as both a standard deck and an opportunity to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! Donate $25 or more and write "CARDS" in the comments box (all but $5 is tax-deductible).

You can play Canasta or GET QUESTIONED at Ben Gurion Airport

Peace Now has produced a unique deck of cards that serves as both a standard deck and an opportunity to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Each card provides a brief description of a significant moment in history, a core issue, or a law.

The deck has been extremely well-received. It also caused an incident that attracted media attention and went viral on Twitter, when a European Peace activist, John Lyndon of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, was thoroughly questioned by Israeli security at Ben Gurion Airport when a deck of these cards was found in his luggage.

We are certain you will enjoy the cards and learn from them, and are pleased to send you a deck as a gift with a donation to Americans for Peace Now of $25 or more (be sure to write "Cards" in the comments box; all but $5 is tax-deductible).

John Lyndon’s story is featured in the current episode of PeaceCast, APN’s podcast.


PeaceCast Episode #108: "Reading the Cards from Europe"

This episode features John Lyndon, Executive Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), who was detained at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport and faced "prolonged hostile questioning" because he possessed Peace Now's deck of cards.

His tweet about this (pictured) spread on social media, and then reached a larger audience when Israeli news outlet YNET wrote an article about it.

In the episode, John talked about issues directly related to ALLMEP and its activity, and explored the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out in Europe, particularly in the wake of President Trump's vision for Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) is an umbrella that brings together over 100 organizations in Israel and the West Bank to assist them with funding, capacity building, visibility, and impact.

LISTEN

On Tu B'Shavat (New Year of the Trees) - from APN Activist Barbara Green

Last year I wrote a Peace Parsha for Tu B'Shevat in which I asked: When did we go from being a people who plant trees to a people who cut them down?

I didn't mean ordinary every-day Jews who go about their business without thinking much about trees. Or ordinary Jewish Israelis who have a long tradition of planting and caring for trees. The Torah commands us to refrain from picking fruit from trees until they are three years old. When we go to war against another people, we are commanded to leave fruit-bearing trees intact to ensure a source of food.

No, I'm talking about Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank -- the occupied territories -- who have weaponized Palestinian trees. Ironically, the trees they burn and cut down are olive trees -- the very symbol of peace. But these Jews aren't making peace. They're waging an undeclared war against the Palestinians by destroying their livelihood, their labor, their identity, and their humanity. It's the purposeful destruction of their hopes, and the message is clear: "Palestinians not wanted here."

Continue reading

In Palestinian culture, the olive tree enjoys an almost sacred status

from Barbara Green, APN Activist:

Last year I wrote a Peace Parsha for Tu B'Shevat in which I asked: When did we go from being a people who plant trees to a people who cut them down?

I didn't mean ordinary every-day Jews who go about their business without thinking much about trees. Or ordinary Jewish Israelis who have a long tradition of planting and caring for trees. The Torah commands us to refrain from picking fruit from trees until they are three years old. When we go to war against another people, we are commanded to leave fruit-bearing trees intact to ensure a source of food.

No, I'm talking about Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank -- the occupied territories -- who have weaponized Palestinian trees. Ironically, the trees they burn and cut down are olive trees -- the very symbol of peace. But these Jews aren't making peace. They're waging an undeclared war against the Palestinians by destroying their livelihood, their labor, their identity, and their humanity. It's the purposeful destruction of their hopes, and the message is clear: "Palestinians not wanted here."

In 2018 alone, 7,200 Palestinian trees were damaged or destroyed by extremist settlers. But this is only part of the horrible story: Palestinian villagers routinely find graffiti, in Hebrew, spray-painted on walls and rocks. "Revenge" and "Death to the Arabs" are mild but telling messages. I read with dread in Al-Monitor.com how settlers unleash dogs on Palestinian children on their way to school. Please read it for yourself and weep. Weep, not only for the children but for the shame we all should have that Jews are doing this.

How do you feel when you read these words? I'm ashamed to write them. This is not the Israel I've been intimately connected with since I spent a year there in 1959. These are not the Jewish values I find in our ancient writings.

This is a perversion of all we stand for as Jews, and we must not remain silent in the face of such outrage.

Tu B'Shevat is the New Year of the Trees. We are asked to remember our connection to the earth and all that is in it. The Torah itself is called a "tree of life." This year on Tu BShevat -- observed on February 10 -- let each one of us take action to protect against the destruction of Palestinian trees in the West Bank and the undeclared war against the Palestinians who live there. Will we make a difference? Who can say? But we know -- as The Mishnah taught us -- that while we are not commanded to finish the task, neither are we exempt from the obligation to start it.

Here are a few possibilities for action:

    • Write an op-ed for your local Jewish newspaper, or your local paper if you still have one
    • Tweet the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, @AmbDermer
    • Write to 10 friends who care about Israel and share what you know about this issue
    • Arrange a program at your synagogue or church on this topic (APN will help you)
    • Demand your clergy talk about these issues in lectures and sermons
    • Write an article for your religious movement's newsletter

    • AND OF COURSE, PLEASE SUPPORT AMERICANS FOR PEACE NOW

If you take action, let us hear about it. We are happy to help.

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting us.

 

$50,000 AIN'T BANANAS

A piece of so-called art - a banana duct-taped to a wall - garnered the public’s attention when it sold for $120,000.

Was it a publicity stunt? Was it satire? Whatever it was, it certainly made the headlines and probably succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

Well, $120,000 ain’t bananas to us here at APN. In fact, at the time, we needed just about that much more to meet our 2019 budget target. We are now down to $50,000, and that still ain't bananas!

APN receives three stars on Charity Navigator, in no small part because of our fiscal responsibility. No bananas and duct tape for us. So rest assured, we do all we can to put your donations to work toward more programing and less administration.

* $50,000 more to our budget means expanding APN’s support for Israel’s Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) movement.

* $50,000 more to our budget means updating our materials, including a new 2020 map of Israeli West Bank settlements, which is an essential and highly demanded educational tool.

* $50,000 more will allow us to maintain our map-app, found on the Apple app store, produce more podcasts, renew News Nosh for which there are over 4000 subscribers, promote Yossi Alpher’s popular weekly Q and A, expand our social media presence, produce regional events, and much more.

As we head into 2020, an election year with many fundraising challenges, please do whatever you can to help now. Because fighting for a two-state solution is no publicity stunt.

Happy New Year and a peaceful 2020 from the staff of APN.

The Story of Chanukah: "It's About the Light"

When Jews recall the Chanukah story of the day’s worth of oil that lasted for eight, we often forget that the miracle was not the extra mileage the Maccabees got from a few ounces of fuel.

The miracle was that the leaders of the newly independent Israel were willing to light the oil to rededicate the Temple—even though there was no guarantee they would realize that goal.

The story of Chanukah is not about the oil; it’s about the light. Had the Maccabees not taken those first uncertain steps, the light of their faith would not still be visible, more than 2000 years later.

Today, in the first era of Jewish independence since the time of the Maccabees, Shalom Achshav, Israel’s indefatigable peace movement, has not stopped, for one moment, advocating for the steps that will lead to an end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians—a goal of two states at peace, and a secure, Jewish and democratic Israel.

(Peace Now's protest in Hebron from Friday. Sign says: "Opposing the Settlement in Hebron".)

Prime Minister Netanyahu is not focused on the light. Settlements continue to proliferate - just last week, alone, the Israeli government approved doubling the size of the settlement at Hebron, further placing the future of two states for two peoples in jeopardy. The government sits gridlocked, facing the prospect of a third, exhausting round of elections while the sitting prime minister faces criminal proceedings.

And yet, the light of Chanukah is no ordinary light. The light is to inspire us to never give in to darkness and to never give up hope. Shalom Achshav is the embodiment of this – they inspire us to never give up, to not wallow in despair.

Through your support, you can educate decision-makers and mobilize grassroots support for a two-state solution. Because it isn’t about the oil.

It’s about the light.

Peace Now's Shaqued Morag: "Good News from Israel"

My name is Shaqued Morag, and I accepted the directorship of Shalom Achshav about 18 months ago. I appreciate this opportunity to communicate directly with you.

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.

Continue reading

Please read Ori's op-ed and give in his honor

I'll be brief -- on Monday of this week, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo made an outrageous announcement shifting U.S. policy on Israeli settlements stating that settlements in the West Bank aren't illegal.

This pathetic statement places a two-state solution further out of reach. Ori Nir says it much better in the following op-ed he did for the Washington Jewish Week. I wanted to share it with you -- it is that good.

I also would be remiss not to mention that APN has a matching challenge taking place now, and any donation you give will be matched by our Chair of the Board, Jim Klutznick. He agreed to give up to $25,000, and we have just about $10,000 more to go. In honor of Ori Nir, let's do this. PLEASE DONATE HERE and max-out Jim's pledge.

Thank you to Ori, thank you to Jim, and thank you to all of you.

Aviva Meyer
APN CEO


Trump nods to the Israeli dissenting interpretation

by Ori Nir, APN Director of Communications

November 20, 2019

Had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined me and my APN colleagues on our West Bank study tour last week, we would have shown him how fraught with illegality and illegitimacy West Bank settlements are.

The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Virtually all international law experts concur that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli governments came up years ago with legal acrobatics to refute the global consensus interpretation of international law. Now, it seems that the Trump administration is giving a nod to the Israeli dissenting interpretation.

That nod, yet again pandering to the Evangelical religious right and to hardline conservative donors, as Trump has done in the past, does not change the facts.

The facts are that Israel’s settlement enterprise is fraught with illegality. It is politically illegitimate and damaging both to Israel’s national security and to America’s interests in the region. It is an obstacle to peace. And it is a flagrant violation of Palestinian human rights. Israeli settlements don’t only violate international law, as almost all legal experts worldwide concur.

Many of them violate Israeli law. More than 100 settlements in the West Bank have been built in violation of Israeli law, often on stolen, privately owned Palestinian land. Extremist settlers break the law on a daily basis, illegally taking land that does not belong to them, attacking Palestinian civilians and even Israeli soldiers and police officers who guard them.

I have spent years in the West Bank, covering, as a reporter for an Israeli newspaper, the Palestinians and the Israeli settlers who chose to live next to them — often as an act of provocation or defiance. I have witnessed up close the lawlessness that characterizes the actions of ideological Jewish settlers in the wild West Bank.

But the real problem with the settlements is not their legal status, but rather their political legitimacy. And the real potential damage of the Trump administration’s statement regarding the legality of settlements is its effort to legitimize the settlements by stating that they are “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

West Bank settlements are politically illegitimate because they prejudge the final status of the West Bank. U.S. administrations, Democratic and Republican, have followed a policy, for the past two decades, which envisioned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the future Palestinian state. West Bank settlements have been used by Israeli politicians as a tool to either torpedo Palestinian statehood or to prejudge the future contours of a Palestinian state.

That is why Pompeo’s predecessors, Republican and Democratic alike, have worked diligently to curtail settlement construction and why they referred to settlements as illegitimate.

The two-state solution has never been popular with religious and nationalistic zealots — whether Evangelicals in the United States, ideological settlers and their hardline allies in Israel, or, for that matter, Islamists and nationalist extremists in Palestinian society.

The Trump administration has apparently decided to side with those who oppose the only realistic scenario for Israeli-Palestinian peace and work to impede it. Legitimizing settlements is yet another step that Donald Trump and his foreign policy team has taken — one in many — to wreck prospects for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Hardline Israeli politicians, moments after Pompeo’s statement Monday, declared it a green light to annex the West Bank and bury the two-state solution.

This latest measure may cynically serve the narrow electoral agenda of President Trump — and that of his political twin Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting to survive political challenges and multiple imminent criminal indictments. But the price of the Trump administration’s callous policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be paid by Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for peace and so dearly deserve it.

I write these lines at my mother’s home in West Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Herzl, where thousands of Israeli soldiers are buried, and victims of the conflict are commemorated and honored. Israelis come here to pay tribute to the fallen and to pray for peace. Last week, on a visit to Ramallah and the adjacent towns, I passed by monuments honoring Palestinian victims of the conflict. All of us, Israelis and Palestinians, have suffered too much death and destruction.

Past U.S. administrations — albeit with limited success — have taken positions and actions aimed at terminating the conflict and advancing peace. It is tragically alarming that the Trump administration is acting to further entrench and perpetuate the conflict, and to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians even harder to attain than it already is. Ori Nir is director of communications for Americans for Peace Now in Washington.


Ori Nir is director of communications for Americans for Peace Now in Washington.

8 years ago, APN approached me while I was on maternity leave...

My name is Orly Halpern and I edit and write News Nosh, the daily review in English of the Hebrew media.

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.

Continue reading
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15