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."
Who are these groups and what do they stand for?
Israel Policy Forum:
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.