Americans for Peace Now
Peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
|Key people||Debra DeLee (President & CEO)
Mark Bilsky (Assistant Executive Director for Planning & Development)
Lara Friedman (Director of Policy and Government Relations)
Ori Nir (Spokesman)
David Pine (West Coast Regional Director)
Rabbi Alana Suskin (Director of Strategic Communications)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2008)|
Americans for Peace Now (APN) is a nonprofit organization based in the United States whose stated aim is to help achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Founded in 1981 as the sister organization to Israel’s Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), APN describes itself as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish organization. The current President and CEO of APN is Debra DeLee.
According to Americans for Peace Now, APN defines itself as “the leading voice of American Jews who support Israel and know that only peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish, democratic state.” APN asserts that the “positions advocated for more than two decades by APN and Shalom Achshav – like calling for the evacuation of settlements and the creation of a viable Palestinian state – are now recognized by most American Jews and Israelis as basic requirements both for peace and for a secure future for Israel.”
APN’s website describes the organization as “a non-partisan organization with a non-partisan mission.” According to APN, it supplies timely information and education, providing a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish perspective on issues and legislation. APN also engages in grassroots political activism and outreach to the American Jewish and Arab American communities, opinion leaders, university students and the public at large. We further promote our agenda through press releases, editorials and personal contacts with journalists, serving as a respected source of balanced information, analysis, and commentary.”
In 1978, 348 senior Israeli army officers wrote a letter to Prime Minister Menachem Begin calling for peace between Israel and Egypt. The letter stated, “the government policy, perpetuating its rule over a million Arabs, could harm the Jewish-democratic character of the state, and makes it difficult for us to identify with the task. Mindful of Israel’s security needs and the difficulties on the path to peace, we nevertheless consider that real security can be achieved only when we achieve peace.” This petition led to the creation of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now in Hebrew), a grassroots movement dedicated to raising public support for the peace process.
APN was founded in 1981 to support the activities of Shalom Achshav. APN’s activities have grown to include: media outreach and monitoring, government relations, and public outreach.
Activities and stated goals
According to Americans for Peace Now, they are “the leading voice of American Jews who support Israel and know that only peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish, democratic state.” APN asserts that the “positions advocated for more than two decades by APN and Shalom Achshav – like calling for the evacuation of settlements and the creation of a viable Palestinian state – are now recognized by most American Jews and Israelis as basic requirements both for peace and for a secure future for Israel.”
APN’s website describes them as “a non-partisan organization with a non-partisan mission.” According to APN, they supply timely information and education, providing a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish perspective on issues and legislation. APN also engages in grassroots political activism and outreach to the American Jewish and Arab American communities, opinion leaders, university students and the public at large. We further promote our agenda through press releases, editorials and personal contacts with journalists, serving as a respected source of balanced information, analysis, and commentary.”
APNs Action Network generates immediate and forceful grassroots responses to political developments though its national membership base.
APN builds relationships with Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and Executive Branch officials in order to educate them about important developments in the Middle East and the implications of policy choices presented to decision makers. In 2005, Roll Call newspaper quoted a congressional staffer saying that APN's government relations program is "second to none." The organization also publishes a Congressional Briefing Book.
American Jewish community outreach
Through its membership in the Conference of Presidents of major American Jewish organizations, APN works with other mainstream American Jewish groups to support peace for the Palestine and Israel.
Media outreach and monitoring
APN promotes its goals through press releases, editorials, and personal contacts with reporters. It is a respected source of balanced information on the Middle East, providing insightful commentary and analysis to interested journalists. APN monitors over 400 media outlets and generates responses on an as-needed basis.
The organization maintains an active website with information, commentary, and advocacy regarding current events in Israel, it sponsors and participates in public events, and it sends speakers to communities around the country to promote the cause of peace. APN publishes the APN Weekly Update, a weekly email newsletter on events in Israel and the Middle East which includes their "Hard Questions, Tough Answers" and "Legislative Round-Up" segments. APN also publishes News Nosh, a daily news round-up. In 2011, APN released Indefensible: Misrepresenting the Borders Issue to Undermine Israeli-Palestinian Peace. In 2012, APN released They Say, We Say in print and online. According to APN, They Say, We Say provides comprehensive responses to right-wing arguments concerning Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. APN's other frequently updated segments include Settlements in Focus and Peace Parsha.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
- An American Jewish community and general American public educated about the strategic and economic benefits of security through peace in the Middle East.
- Active White House and State Department engagement in the peace process, especially Administration efforts to broker a new interim understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, facilitate final status arrangements that reconcile Israeli security with Palestinian statehood, and encourage negotiations between Israel and its neighbours.
- Congressional support for the peace process through continued aid to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians.
- Broad awareness in the United States of the benefits of Shalom Achshav programs in Israel.
- A firm financial base for Shalom Achshav and APN activities.
In the wake of the Hamas electoral victory in January 2006, H.R. 4681, The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, was introduced to the United States House of Representatives. After analyzing the legislation, APN found that the bill would censure and punish all Palestinians, and close the door on any future negotiations to achieve peace with Palestinians.
APN worked with Members of Congress and legislative staff in the U.S. House of Representatives to improve and strengthen the bill. APN pushed for a US policy that pressures Hamas, seeks to avert a humanitarian disaster, and facilitates the eventual return to peace negotiations. These efforts ensured that the bill went through mark-ups in two House Committees, including the House International Relations Committee, where the bill was improved to deal with some of the specific concerns raised by APN – albeit not improved enough for APN to endorse the result.
The Senate version of the bill, S. 2370 – introduced significantly later than the House version, after APN’s advocacy and educational efforts were underway – was significantly better than H.R. 4681. Like H.R. 4681, the Senate legislation sends a sharp message of rejecting terrorism, while giving the President more flexibility to conduct foreign policy and preserves the possibility of producing US and moderate Palestinian relations. In December 2006, the House passed the Senate version of the bill.
Position on settlements
APN believes that settlements in the West Bank represent a security liability for Israel and an obstacle to future peace efforts, and has advocated that the Bush Administration go on record in opposing the expansion of settlements and in favor of Israel's removing illegal settlement outposts. According to APN, President Bush's oft-repeated vision of a future Palestinian state, living alongside Israel, each country secure in its own borders, can never be realized if Israel continues to expand settlements and further consolidate its hold over land in the West Bank.
APN asserts that the economic and security challenges facing Israel are exacerbated by continued investment in settlements and refusal to rein in renegade settlers who persist in establishing new settlement outposts. Polls show wide support among Israelis for a settlement freeze, dismantling of outposts, and settlement evacuations, and also have shown that most settlers would accept withdrawal from settlements in the context of a peace agreement and a compensation program. APN believes that by making it impossible for Israel to disengage from the West Bank, settlements ensure that the government of Israel will eventually govern an area in which non-Jews outnumber Jews. Israel would thus be forced to choose between remaining a democracy and losing its character as a Jewish state, or retaining its character as Jewish state at the expense of democracy.
- 1978 - Founding of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) The largest grassroots movement in Israel's history is founded in 1978 by 348 reserve army officers and combat soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.
- 1979 - Forging the First Peace On the eve of Prime Minister Begin's historic trip to negotiate peace with Egypt, Shalom Achshav mobilizes hundreds of thousands of Israelis in a massive demonstration of public willingness to trade land for a secure peace with an Arab neighbor. Begin would later write that this demonstration was on his mind as he negotiated at Camp David.
- 1981 - Establishment of Americans for Peace Now Networks of support for Shalom Achshav emerge around the United States and a national movement begins to form.
- 1982 - Ending the war in Lebanon Following the massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps by the Phalangist militia, Shalom Achshav helps to rally 400,000 people - 10% of Israel's population - in a successful effort to demand a government commission of inquiry and an end to the war in Lebanon.
- 1985 - Building Bridges to the Other Side Shalom Achshav initiates dialogue and reconciliation projects with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
- 1988 - Speak Peace with the PLO Shalom Achshav launches its campaign "Speak Peace with the PLO" helping to legitimize dialogue and pave the way for the Oslo negotiations.
- 1989 - Promoting Peace in Times of Crisis As the Intifada and violent retaliation escalates, Shalom Achshav organizes "Hands around Jerusalem," a landmark partnership as 25,000 Israelis and Palestinians linked hands to encircle the walls of the Old City in a chain of peace.
- 1990 - Launching of Settlement Watch project This project has become one of the most reliable and respected sources of information on settlement activity.
- 1993 - Creating a Shalom Achshav youth movement Thousands of Israeli youth have been mobilized throughout Israel and have helped facilitate a parallel development among Palestinian youth in the West Bank and Gaza.
- 1994 - Establishing Ir Shalem project This project opposes housing eviction and land confiscation of Palestinians in Jerusalem and promotes policies that seek equity and unity among all of Jerusalem's residents, Israeli and Palestinian.
- 1996 - Groundbreaking tour by Israeli and Palestinian youth From the White House to inner-city high schools, they traveled the United States sharing their ideas about reconciliation, offering hope even in the face of a new wave of suicide terrorism.
- 1997 - Expanding Washington advocacy APN launches its Action Alert Network program in support of American mediation efforts in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- 1998 - APN presents Creative Policy Options Presenting ideas to breaking the protracted negotiating deadlock and challenging both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat to live up to their Oslo obligations.
- 1998 - APN hosts Yitzhak Rabin peace award APN Begins an annual award ceremony honoring individuals that further the United States commitment to the Israel and Palestinian Peace process.
- 2002 - Over 100,000 Israelis rally for peace Peace Now and the Israeli Peace Coalition launched a major new campaign to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Under the banner, “Get Out of the Territories, for Israel’s Sake,” over 100,000 Israelis responded to this call and rallied for peace in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on May 11.
- 2003 - APN Hosts Geneva initiators Americans for Peace Now (APN) played a major role in hosting several Israelis and Palestinians who worked on the Geneva Accord when they were in Washington. With the assistance of APN, the Geneva team had a tremendous impact on government officials and the media.
- 2005 - Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip Israel unilaterally withdraws from all permanent Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. Peace Now supported the withdrawal, although it repeatedly called for the withdrawal to be negotiated with Palestinian Authority President Abbas.
- 2006 - Settlement report Peace Now published a report stating that 40% of Israel settlement land is owned by Palestinians. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on land which the Israeli government recognizes as privately owned by Palestinians, as opposed to "state land" whose ownership is unclear, or land owned by Jews. (The report may be seen at November. An update of the report can be found at March.)
- Peace Now
- Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- al-Aqsa Intifada
- Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
- Peace treaty
- Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Peaceworkers UK : British NGO providing training for potential peaceworkers in nonviolent, civilian techniques of conflict transformation
- Partners for Progressive Israel
- J Street
- Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
- Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties
- Paris Peace Conference, 1919
- Faisal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)
- 1949 Armistice Agreements
- Camp David Accords (1978)
- Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1979)
- Madrid Conference of 1991
- Oslo Accords (1993)
- Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
- Camp David 2000 Summit
- Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
- List of Middle East peace proposals
- International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict
- "Americans for Peace Now". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- full text of the letter
- "Mission Statement – Americans For Peace Now". Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "They Say, We Say – Americans For Peace Now". Retrieved 23 October 2013.