Please read these important messages from Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann and filmmaker Dror Moreh. We hope you find them compelling, and support our efforts to bring lasting peace for Israel and Palestine. May 2016 bring us closer to this goal.
Americans for Peace Now
Why is Jerusalem burning?
I'm usually the opposite of a prophet of doom. Many journalists see peddling the apocalypse of Jerusalem as a fast track to a Pulitzer Prize, so there's a tendency to overstate the city's volatility. But Jerusalem is usually a far more stable city than its reputation. At the beginning of the recent uptick in violence, people were saying, "Ah, this happens every year around the Jewish High Holidays. This is just another perennial round of skirmishing. We see this all the time."
My name is Jim Klutznick, I'm the Chair of the Board of Americans for Peace Now (APN), and I'll get right to the point - I could not be prouder of the staff of this organization, led by CEO Debra DeLee (pictured). The quality and quantity of their work astounds me - work that never lets up, in spite of the enormous challenges of working for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the current environment.
It's easy for some people to say "It will never happen" and just quit. That's not part of the DNA of APN's staff. This staff includes Lara Friedman, who formulates and writes APN's policies and works with Congress and the Administration; Ori Nir, who through his own writing and contacts with journalists keeps APN's views in the public eye; Mark Bilsky, who educates the public through creative development materials; David Pine, who ably represents APN on the West Coast; and Alana Suskin, our in-house Rabbi, who takes on those who use religion to justify continued colonization of the West Bank. Our Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) colleagues in Israel are likewise inspiring - they don't give up, so how can we? I thank them all and I hope you will do so as well.
One of the many things that Israelis and Palestinians have in common is the role that poetry plays in their popular culture. For both Israelis and Palestinians, poetry is a bridge that connects their personal experience to the national, collective narrative of their people.
Yehuda Amichai is Israel’s most prominent modern poet, widely considered the country’s poetic voice of peace. When Yitzhak Rabin was invited to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, he asked Amichai to join him and read a couple of poems. One of his selections was his piercing anti-war poem, God has Pity on Kindergarten Children.
Recently, amidst the recent outbreak of violence in Israel, a restauranteur offered a 50 percent discount on each plate of hummus ordered by Jewish and Arab patrons who dined together. This story went viral. It reminds us that food can bring people together.
Food brought Yotam Ottolengi and Sami Tamimi together. They are the chefs behind the runaway bestseller Jerusalem: A Cookbook. It highlights an odd mix of flavors drawing upon recipes indigenous to Jerusalem. But the truly pleasing odd mix is that Yotam is from West Jerusalem—an Israeli, and Sami is from East Jerusalem—a Palestinian. They are the best of friends and food is their common bond.
Jews are called “the people of the book” for a reason. Over thousands of years, despite endless persecution, adversity and exile, we have remained a people, linked to one another and our history by our sacred texts, ideologies and teachings. The words in these texts—interpreted anew with each generation—are what binds us together, nourish our Jewish identity, and inspire provocative, mind-expanding (occasionally maddening) discussions in our communities and at our dinner tables.
As it is said: ask two Jews, you’ll get three opinions.
We use music in a variety of ways – to teach, to learn, to inspire, to heal. We can use it to help get through life’s troubles or to delve deeply into them.
Sandy Tolan’s Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land explores many of these dynamics through the story of Ramzi Aburedwan, a West Bank Palestinian who uses his rare musical talent to bring the healing power of music to his community in the West Bank. Tolan, the author of the bestselling book The Lemon Tree, powerfully documents Ramzi’s experiences, from his childhood under Israeli occupation to becoming a master viola player in the concert halls of Europe to his return to Ramallah in order to teach and perform.
Very few Palestinians have written political memoirs documenting their people’s struggle for statehood and liberty. Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country is a rarity and therefore a must-read for anyone seeking to see the conflict through the eyes of a brilliant Palestinian, to comprehend and to empathize.
We are living in the first era of Jewish independence since the time of the Maccabees. It was over 2000 years ago that Jews last controlled their own destiny before the creation of the modern State of Israel. The independence the Maccabees gained lasted about 80 years. Modern day Israel is 67 years old.
The current Israeli-Palestinian violence demonstrates how damaging national-religious incitement can be. But it’s not just Palestinian incitement. The extremist rabbis of the ideological West Bank settlers are as responsible for Jewish violence as Muslim clerics are for Palestinian violence.
The most blatant case of incitement-inspired Jewish political violence since the establishment of the state of Israel was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
Dan Ephron’s Killing a King is a must-read book that follows both Rabin and his assassin, Yigal Amir, through the year or two that preceded the murder. It invites the reader to continue following these two lines – the progressive, peace-seeking Israel that Rabin led and came to represent, and the extremist, reactionary Israel – beyond the disastrous point of their intersection on November 4, 1995.