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There is good sign that major American Peace Groups are now making a move to further and more aggressively promote a just peace in the middle east by combining efforts.

Americans for Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum are tentatively discussing a merger?

JTA has learned that top representatives of both groups met in New York Tuesday to informally discuss merging into a single organization that would advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and greater U.S. engagement in encouraging such an outcome.

The outcome of Tuesday's meeting was that each organization's board would consider in the near future whether to enter into more formal discussions.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, is involved in the broader discussions. "We are very eager," said Diane Cantor, the BTV executive director. "Brit Tzedek v'Shalom supports efforts to unify the Jewish peace movement, to make it stronger." snip

Separately, Jeremy Ben-Ami, a Clinton administration policy adviser who now works for Fenton Communications, a Washington public relations giant, told JTA that the wider discussions were "not about a merger, it's about something much bigger, bolder, new."
http://www.jta.org/...

Who are these groups and what do they stand for?

Israel Policy Forum:

OUR VISION
Israel Policy Forum believes that through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel and its Arab neighbors, as well as the region as a whole, will become more secure, prosperous and stable. IPF also sees such a resolution as critical to garnering the international support necessary to effectively wage war on terror and to increase global security.  To achieve this goal - and strengthen its interests in the region - the United States must remain a consistent and fully engaged partner in the Middle East peace process.  IPF is doing everything possible to encourage and support America in this effort.
http://www.ipforum.org/...

And who is Peace Now?

About Americans for Peace Now

Americans for Peace Now [APN] was founded in 1981 to support the activities of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now in Israel). APN is the leading United States advocate for peace in the Middle East. APN's mission is to help Israel and the Shalom Achshav movement to achieve a comprehensive political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict consistent with Israel's long-term security needs and its Jewish and democratic values.
http://www.peacenow.org/...

Israel Policy Forum's action policy, long read but worth it (copyright approved!):

WHAT THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY MUST DO

A BLUEPRINT FOR AMERICAN JEWISH ACTION
TO HELP RESOLVE THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT.

There is much that the Jewish community has learned from the past century. As a result of the Holocaust, we have no interest in being passive players in world affairs. The State of Israel has a powerful military force. And in the U.S., we are passionate advocates for maximizing Jewish impact on American policies, from foreign affairs to immigration, from Darfur and civil rights to Church-State separation. As advocates for Israel in the 21st century, we must find new ways and utilize different strategies to think through what is in America’s and Israel’s – and the Jewish people’s – long-term interests, and help provide for their security.

The State of Israel continues to be threatened by terrorism and rogue states. But this is not 1939. As ugly as the world may look, Israel and the Jewish people are not defenseless. Our goal is to protect ourselves and Israel and ensure our viability. What the war with Hezbollah confirms is that a status quo Israel advocacy is in need of rethinking and repair. It no longer fully reflects the Zionist vision of a democratic, Jewish state in which our people can live out our unique vision of a Jewish homeland. Israel must be assured the military strength to defend itself, but military prowess and American Congressional support alone will not be enough to protect the Jewish state. We must be advocates for peace and a two state solution. Fighting hopelessness that nothing can change has to be at the core of 21st century Israel advocacy.

Toward this end, IPF is launching an initiative that reaches out to the Jewish community and mobilizes our political and moral strength to promote a secure and demographically viable Israel living alongside an independent Palestinian state. Based on surveys and polls, American Jews support the following:

PROMOTING A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT

  1. To secure Israel’s future, there must be an economically viable, contiguous and secure Palestinian state. We must be clear that we recognize the right and need for a Palestinian state. There should be no "but" to this affirmation even as we recognize that arriving at a two-state solution has proven incredibly difficult.
  1. The United States must do more than claim it supports a comprehensive two-state solution. When America loses interest in the Israeli-Arab conflict, disaster follows. There must be a renewal of continuous and high level diplomatic activity by the United States that reaches out to friendly Arab nations and our European allies to help end the conflict. Peace in the Holy Land can be an enduring legacy of this administration. American Jews must be in the forefront of advocating sustained and high-level American involvement that will lead to a comprehensive settlement.
  1. We must be vigilant to prevent support of Israel from being a political football. Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle want to help bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Artificial support of Israel with meaningless resolutions has not provided the Jewish state with security. We must ensure that a comprehensive settlement is a bipartisan issue if we are to end the violence against Israel.
  1. Members of Congress should not feel threatened if their support of Israel includes advocating for alternative ways to end the conflict. Congress should not hear from the Jewish community that the goal of peace is a dead-in-the-water fantasy. When some in the Jewish community only speak of fear and gloom and do not promote constructive proposals, we are seen as a negative force in Washington.
  1. The Jewish community must promote new policy options and solutions rather than attack or undermine peace proposals by claiming that nothing will help. We should reach out to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and all other nations which have indicated their interest in finding a resolution to the Arab-Israel conflict. There is a new pragmatic effort to engage Syria and Iran. Without illusions, we should support that. The American Jewish community should clearly state that an end to conflict is in Israel’s and the Jewish people’s best interests. While we are committed to our security and well-being, we also are rodfei shalom, a people that pursues peace.

OUTREACH TO PALESTINIANS

  1. All surveys show that Palestinians overwhelmingly support a two-state solution even as they unfortunately continue to support violence to gain independence. P.A. President Abbas has called for a negotiated peace agreement. The Jewish community should support and reach out to Palestinians committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
  1. The Jewish community must recognize that Palestinians are suffering, which in no way places blame for their suffering on Israel. We should encourage American and world support for humanitarian aid to Palestinians, just as we advocate for Israel’s share of foreign aid. A Palestine in chaos is contrary to the interests of Israel, America and the Jewish community.
  1. We need to promote interfaith conversations in U.S. and listen more carefully to what Christians and Muslims are saying. When we demonize Muslim or Christian leaders, we undermine our ability to reach out and work with them, to draw them into a coalition dedicated to end the conflict. Jews need to be in the forefront of interfaith work that promotes solutions.

ADVOCACY FOR PEACE AND SECURITY

  1. In all surveys of American Jews and Israelis, both groups continue to support a comprehensive two-state solution. The last six governments of Israel have supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Many influential leaders in Congress and the media do not believe these facts. We need one voice when it comes to our support for the State of Israel and its security. We also need to reflect the diversity of views as how best to assure a safe Israel. Israel advocacy that supports a comprehensive settlement will provide a home for the majority of America’s Jews, and a much larger majority of young American Jews. It is time we provide them that home.

http://www.ipforum.org/...

Old news, but what they do (news release):

April 18 – Leaders of the Israel Policy Forum, the American Jewish pro-Israel advocacy organization, met yesterday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman and today with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Minister of Social Affairs and Diaspora Isaac Herzog and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

The efforts by Arab, American and Israeli groups to seize the current opportunity to establish peace and security in the region "are necessary to help the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table and solve outstanding issues," the king told the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) delegation.

In separate meetings with the IPF leaders, King Abdullah and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khateb stressed the importance of having the voices of moderation heard and exerting influence in order to rally support for the peace process. The king said that Israel Policy Forum could be an active peace partner in helping these forces of moderation achieve this goal.

snip
During their meeting today with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni, the IPF leaders reiterated IPF’s support of her diplomatic outreach to address the dangers of stagnation and to engage moderate Palestinian and Arab leaders who are choosing a non-violent solution over the status quo. King Abdullah had conferred with Livni on Monday.

IPF president Seymour D. Reich and vice-chair Karen Adler, interviewed on Jordan Television yesterday, affirmed that IPF’s meeting with King Abdullah was positive and extremely important. They expressed appreciation for the King's tireless efforts with all parties to push the peace process forward.

"We will carry the king's message that Israel should deal positively with the Arab peace initiative," Reich said later in the day. "Israel now has an opportunity to use the initiative as a basis for negotiations," he added.

http://www.ipforum.org/...

And more about Peace Now:

APN, a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel’s security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement, has long suggested that the US and Israel positively examine a regional approach to peacemaking between Israel and its neighbors. On Wednesday, Peace Now activists demonstrated outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem urging him to embrace the opportunity presented by the Arab initiative.

Leaders of 22 Arab states unanimously agreed Thursday to work to persuade the international community and Israel to accept the peace initiative they first endorsed in 2002. The initiative calls for full peace and normalized relations with Israel in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from territories it occupied in the 1967 war. The initiative also calls for a "just" and "agreed upon" resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem, in a manner that Israel is concerned could imply the return of Palestinian refugees to homes they left in Israel in the 1948 war.
http://www.peacenow.org/...

And Peace Now is not afraid of confronting the hard issues:

news release - March 14, 2007

Washington, D.C.— Israel's Peace Now movement today released official data it received from the Israeli government, validating the findings of its November 2006 report that vast portions of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on land which the government recognizes as privately owned by Palestinians.

According to the data, which the government recently provided to Peace Now following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, one third (32.4 percent) of the Jewish settlements' land in the West Bank is privately owned. The data confirm assertions made earlier by Peace Now that the vast majority of the settlements and outposts (131 out of 162) are either partially or completely situated on privately owned land.

The 2006 report was based on 2004 data leaked to Peace Now. The new data are both official and up-to-date.

"The new data, which come officially from the hands of Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank, not only  vindicate Peace Now but also underscore the need for Israel and America to vigorously work together to roll back the settlement enterprise in the West Bank," said Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Peace Now.

Last year's groundbreaking report shattered the oft-repeated claim that settlements are built exclusively on public lands. The Israeli High Court of Justice has a long established precedent that privately owned lands cannot be taken for settlement construction. Since its publication, the settlers and their American advocates attempted to discredit the report by arguing that it was based on "fabricated" data.

"The new, official data dispel the allegation that Peace Now's report was unfounded and show that the report accurately reflected the reality on the ground. Discrepancies between the original data and the newly acquired official data are marginal," DeLee said.

http://www.peacenow.org/...

Settlement issue has to be resolved.

As to criticism regarding Israel's acts of annexation and settlement since 1967, large parts of the Israeli population share these sentiments, including the author of this article. Under the charismatic and destructive influence of Moshe Dayan, at the end of the Six Day War the government chose to prevent Palestinian autonomy, oppressed Palestinian rights and subjugated the Palestinian workforce to the interests of Israeli employers. This is indeed "hubristic folly."

But is it only ours? The "Land for Peace" movement immediately challenged the Greater Israel movement, and they divided Israeli society from within. Not Palestinian society.
http://www.ynetnews.com/...

I don't believe in PollyAnnaish outcome to peace initiatives. As long as we are human, wars will breakout, but the key has to be in managing the peace process, so that wars are rare and not the first choice of new world orders.

Originally posted to mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:09 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE (6+ / 0-)

    PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE
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    PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE PEACE

    I hope we all have PEACE

    thanks for the diary Mattes
    lots of great information.

    statusquomustgo...and it did...whooooops, not done yet

    by Statusquomustgo on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:12:07 AM PDT

  •  IIRC, Americans for Peace Now played a major (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    howardx

    role in creating the Israel Policy Forum as an organization that could appeal to more establishment types of American Jewish communal leaders and activists. The idea for (what became IPF) originated with an APN board member. I attended a number of planning meeting, mostly in New York.

    It's an interesting development that the two groups now see mutual advantages in uniting.

    Al Gore should be president.

    by another American on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:12:55 AM PDT

  •  And we're discussing a joint APN-ATFP effort (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattes, Statusquomustgo, howardx

    Al Gore should be president.

    by another American on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:16:41 AM PDT

    •  News dump: (5+ / 0-)

      Jordan: Stop Temple Mount excavations

      A Jordanian official called on Israel Wednesday to stop archaeological excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, the official Petra news agency reported.

      Israel has been carrying out excavations on a ramp leading up to a disputed holy site. The digging has sparked clashes between police and Muslims in Jerusalem and touched off fierce criticism throughout the Muslim world.

      "Israel must stop its continuous practices and measures to Judaize the city and change its Arab and Islamic characteristics," said Abdullah Kanaan, the head of Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem's Affairs.
      http://www.jpost.com/...

      US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has cautioned against a growing sentiment in Israel to pursue peace with Syria instead of with warring Palestinian factions, saying there is "no substitute" for creating a Palestinian state, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
      snip
      The Palestinian issue "is at the core of a lot of problems in the region," Rice told the Post. She said, "There is no substitute for trying to get to the place where the Palestinians finally have their state and the Israelis finally have a neighbor who can live in peace and security with them."

      The "Israeli-Palestinian track is extremely important" because it "unlocks the key" to "further engagement between the Arabs and the Israelis," Rice said.
      http://www.jpost.com/...

      "Unilateralism"...we take what we want, and leave you the rest. -7.00, -2.92

      by mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:28:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  jeez (4+ / 0-)

        dont listen to condi and make peace with whoever you want israel!

        50 foot jesus take me home

        by howardx on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:30:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oy, not this again. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unfounded

        Mattes, the ramp construction is not endangering anything or anyone. Well, maybe with the possible exception of orthodox Israel women praying at the western wall. Have you been there? BTW, how does this news blurb relate to the subject of this diary. Stop hijacking Mattes :-)

        "Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." ~ Diderot

        by Bouwerie Boy on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:36:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  All is perception. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          npbeachfun, ocdiamond

          "Unilateralism"...we take what we want, and leave you the rest. -7.00, -2.92

          by mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:53:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What's more (0+ / 0-)

          those opposing the ramp construction can very easily be attributed other motives:

          1.  Any excuse to whip up a riot is clearly enough for some people
          1.  More insidious, there's a long standing movement to oppose all Israeli digs as they will undoubtedly find more evidence for the accepted-outside-of-arab-scholarship fact that there was a Kingdom of Israel back in the day
          •  But what has been found is evidence (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            npbeachfun, ocdiamond

            of Arab merchants prior to the destruction of the Arab neighborhood surrounding the Western Wall.

            "Unilateralism"...we take what we want, and leave you the rest. -7.00, -2.92

            by mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:09:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, it's really not the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            unfounded

            construction of a ramp. It is the repair and modernization of the ramp which was originally built by the British in the late 1920s. My understanding is that the ramp, which provides the main access for worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque / Dome of the Rock complex, was badly damaged in an earthquake a few years ago and needs to be stabilized for the safety of all. I visited this thing back in the early 90s and it was really not in all that great shape even then.

            "Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." ~ Diderot

            by Bouwerie Boy on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:12:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  More dumps: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          npbeachfun, ocdiamond

          Ayalon meets with Peretz over support in Labor leadership race

          Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Labor Party chairmanship hopeful MK Ami Ayalon met Wednesday afternoon at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, and discussed Peretz's possible support of Ayalon in the upcoming second round of primaries for party leadership.

          Ayalon will be facing former prime minister Ehud Barak in a runoff for the party leadership on June 12, and the kingmaker is liable to be outgoing party chair Peretz, who came in third in Monday's first round with 22 percent of the vote.

          The meeting, most of which was held privately between the two Laborites, lasted more than an hour. Prior to the meeting, Ayalon told his camp that he does not intend to offer Peretz any deals in exchange for his support, he only intends to offer a "partnership."
          http://www.haaretz.com/...

          Haniyeh: PA gov't wants a truce, the ball is now in Israel's court

          Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that the Palestinian government was interested in a cease-fire with Israel, and that the responsibility to advance the cease-fire was not in Israel's hands.

          "We in the Palestinian government are in favor of a reciprocal and simultaneous calm ... in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The ball is now on the Israeli court," Haniyeh said after meeting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza.

          Haniyeh's Hamas party, which formed a unity government with Abbas' Fatah two months ago, demands that any cease-fire include an immediate end to all Israeli attacks in both territories, a demand rebuffed repeatedly by Israel.
          http://www.haaretz.com/...

          EU parliament chief urges Israel to free Palestinian lawmakers

          The speaker of the European Parliament spoke before the Knesset on Wednesday and urged Israel to release funds to the Palestinian Authority and to free dozens of Palestinian lawmakers it has arrested.

          Coupling his plea for the jailed politicians with a call for the release of three Israel Defense Forces soldiers and a British journalist, all believed held by Arab militants, Hans-Gert Poettering told the Knesset that Europe stood by Israel and was ready to work to promote new talks to bring peace and security to the region.

          "The situation seems critical in a way that it has not for a long time," the German Christian Democrat legislator said.
          http://www.haaretz.com/...

          Lots more....

          "Unilateralism"...we take what we want, and leave you the rest. -7.00, -2.92

          by mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:26:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  who are the... (3+ / 0-)

    "American advocates" of the settlers? are we talking organized groups here?

    50 foot jesus take me home

    by howardx on Wed May 30, 2007 at 10:17:16 AM PDT

  •  Good development (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattes, howardx, Terra Mystica, ocdiamond

    Mattes, that's a very interesting development.   I really am encouraged to see progressive Jewish organizations collaborating to have a stronger voice in American policy vis a vis Israel and the Palestinians.  

    I  think American Jews are ready for this, and that a coalition of this sort would enjoy broad support.

    BTW, I wouldn't underestimate the importance of voices like your own in helping to educate Jews and other Americans on what was going on in the occupied territories, and laying the groundwork for this institutional change.

  •  Something is missing! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    npbeachfun, ocdiamond

    Where is anyone that advocates equal rights for Palestinians in Israel?   This is just more reshuffling of the various pro-Israel groups in an attempt to fool the world.   Americans will be fooled, the Arabs will not.   The struggle against oppression will continue.   Only equal rights will end the war.

    •  Right you are: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noah in NY, npbeachfun, ocdiamond

      Democracy for Jews only
      By Yitzhak Laor

      Looking back, it is strange how many years it has taken the liberals among us to understand that Israeli democracy needs safeguards - not against organizations trying to bring it down, or a political structure that can undermine it, or a too-powerful internal force that draws strength from the lack of a constitution (the Shin Bet security service, for example). Those who thought there was no problem with Israeli democracy, or the Arab minority in its midst, were strangely innocent.

      True, there is an occupation. But in the Israeli mind, the occupation is temporary. The suspension of all human and civil rights is an extraordinary situation, an emergency situation, and thus it may be worse than a military dictatorship - after all, the army can do anything in the occupied territories. Millions of people are subject to this regime, and our democracy does not see them. Rather, it lives with the occupation as the exception, not the rule.

      In contrast, Israeli democracy is careful not to talk about the constitutional status of the Arabs within its borders. It has established a devious system of laws and regulations to expropriate from them rights reserved only for Jewish citizens, and even for Jewish non-citizens. The real estate laws are an example of this, as are the actions of the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency, which behave as if the state were only for Jews.
      http://www.haaretz.com/...

      "Unilateralism"...we take what we want, and leave you the rest. -7.00, -2.92

      by mattes on Wed May 30, 2007 at 11:29:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Arabs in Israel (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mattes, Noah in NY, npbeachfun, ocdiamond

        This is quite true, and - speaking as a Jew - I do not think we should aspire to an ethnic state that offers a separate, inferior status to other religions or ethnicities.

        More radical Jewish groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, will probably be barred from this coalition since we will not restrict ourselves to working for a two-state solution, but will continue to advocate for an ethnically diverse democracy in which Arabs, Jews and other groups have equal rights.

        Nonetheless, I would not discount a coalition of Jewish organizations working to end the occupation.  At a practical level, a two-state solution seems to be desired by both sides and may be within reach if America pursues a more balanced policy and puts real pressure on Israel to negotiate a fair solution.

        In this light, an alternative Jewish voice to AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents would be very constructive.

        The key question is what position this new coalition will take on the issue of borders, and on sharing Jerusalem.

    •  show me some equal rights for women (0+ / 0-)

      in those Israeli Arab communities and I'll take you seriously! and for gays and lesbians!

      what about that 4peace!

      do you mention that ever?

      it's why I don't trust a whole lot of you, you'll always be hankering for the next thing.

      sorry.

      FREE TIBET! Bang the Drum! FREE TIBET! Boom! Boom!

      by Keith Moon on Wed May 30, 2007 at 12:47:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  status of women (0+ / 0-)

        If they're Israeli citizens, then they have equal rights under Israeli law, yes?  That is to say, the rights of Arab women are equal to those of Arab men, and both have restricted rights to property ownership, travel, etc. compared with Jews.

        As far as the status of women in Arab society... When I was traveling in the West Bank, I saw many women in positions of leadership - medical students, lawyers, politicians, social workers.  I did not see overt discrimination.  It may happen, but I would not say it's a prevalent facet of Palestinian society.

        Article 9 of the Palestinian Basic Law states that

        All Palestinians are equal under the law and judiciary, without discrimination because of race, sex, color, religion, political views, or disability.

        That does not mean there aren't segments of Arab society where women are segregated and discriminated... but that is true in the United States and in Israel as well (look at the ultra-Orthodox, for example).

        PS - didn't you used to play drums for The Who?

  •  Once again Thanks Mattes n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattes, Terra Mystica

    "Spell check helps, dyslexia still wins"

    by npbeachfun on Wed May 30, 2007 at 12:18:41 PM PDT

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