The U.S. State Department notified the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) late in November 2017 that it may shut its mission to the United States in Washington DC. The move sparked livid reactions by the Palestinian leadership and raised many eyebrows among Washington's policy community. Why would an administration that says it wants to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace act to alienate one of the parties it wants to bring to the negotiating table? Are the administration's hands truly tied by congressional legislation on this issue?
To answer these and other questions, PeaceCast hosted Lara Friedman, the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, and the former director of policy and government relations of Americans for Peace Now.
Check out FMEP's web site: https://fmep.org/ and Lara's explainer of the crisis: https://fmep.org/blog/2017/11/understanding-plo-mission-crisis-key-documents/
Enemies and Neighbours: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel: 1917-2017 is Ian Black's new book on a hundred years of conflict.
Ian Black is a veteran British journalist, who over his many years of reporting has focused on the Arab world, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He recently retired from the Guardian, where for many years he was the Middle East editor, and is now He is now a visiting senior fellow at the Middle East Centre in London.
We spoke about his disciplined writing style, about the dynamics of the conflict, about important moments along the timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and about hope.
Danny Seidemann is one of the world’s leading experts on Jerusalem, on Israeli-Palestinian relations there and on the Jerusalem-related requirements for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
On November 14th 2017, we hosted Danny at Americans for Peace Now’s office in Washington to talk about the current situation in Jerusalem and about the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Danny is the director of Terrestrial Jerusalem http://t-j.org.il/
Boycotts divestment and sanctions (BDS) are a tool used against Israel by activists worldwide either to compel the government of Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip or to punish it for violations of Palestinians’ human rights. Some who support BDS do it because they oppose the very existence of Israel – not just its occupation of territories captured in 1967 – and seek ways to damage Israel as a state.
Americans for Peace Now opposes this blunt tool for various reasons, and encourages people to engage economically and otherwise with Israel. However, we do support boycotting West Bank settlements, which we believe are a major obstacle to peace. We also believe that people have a First Amendment right to express their positions on Israel through boycotts, if they so choose, even if we don’t endorse the action.
We are therefore gratified to have the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on our side in opposing the avalanche of anti-BDS that are being adopted both on the Federal and state level. We oppose them because they conflate Israel and the West Bank settlements, and like the ACLU we also oppose them because they violate the basic civil rights of Americans.
To discuss how the ACLU is opposing these laws, we hosted for a briefing call Attorney Brian Hauss, who leads the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation on this issue.
For more – a lot more – see here: http://peacenow.org/page.php?name=boycott-occupation#.WfyU42hSyUk
After a hiatus of about a month (vacation, Jewish High Holidays, heavy workload), PeaceCast is returning with a special episode, marking the 30th anniversary of the first intifada, the Palestinian popular uprising that started on December 9th 1987.
This episode features conversation between three reporters who covered the first intifada: Mary Curtius, who then reported for the Christian Science Monitor and later for the Boston Globe, Joel Greenberg, who then worked for the Jerusalem post (and later covered Israel for the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and other US and British newspapers) and Ori Nir, who then covered Palestinian affairs for Israel’s Haaretz.
The three got together in Jerusalem early October 2017 to talk about this formative experience in the history of Palestinian-Israeli relations and to put it in perspective of the three decades that elapsed since then.
This is the first in several episodes that would be devoted to the first intifada.
To donate to APN and help us produce more episodes like this , please click here: https://peacenow.org/donate
To learn more about musician Mark Eliyahu (mentioned in this episode), click here: http://markeliyahu.com/
You might expect Daniel Shapiro, Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, to dismiss the Trump administration’s rickety Israeli-Palestinian peace brokering efforts.
Surprisingly, Shapiro believes that Trump and his aides have only marginally strayed from traditional U.S. policies on the issue. In fact, he says, more than in any other policy arena, the Trump administration is exercising more continuity and adherence to past administrations’ policies in the field of Israeli-Palestinian relations.
This episode is based on a September 14th 2017 APN briefing call with Ambassador Shapiro. It is preceded by a conversation between APN’s Stephanie Breitsman, Debra Shushan and Ori Nir, PeaceCast’s host.
The full recording of our briefing call with Shapiro is available here.
This episode features two conversations. The first is an interview with Dr. Bashir Karkabi, a Palestinian Israeli physician, who is among the organizers of an event that will take place on September 14th in the Israeli Arab town of Kalanswa, bringing together Jewish and Arab activists to forge together a shared agenda for a joint political struggle.
Our second conversation is with Nadia Abuelezam, a Palestinian-American, who is the creator and host of a podcast that tells the stories of Palestinians in the United States. The podcast is called Palestinians Podcast. Here is a link to the podcast’s web site: http://www.palestinianspodcast.com/
And here is a link to APN’s donate page: https://peacenow.org/donate
If you have any ideas or any feedback about PeaceCast, we would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abby Smardon, the executive director of UNRWA-USA, the American organization that supports the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, returned to Washington after a couple of weeks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It was her sixth consecutive annual visit to Gaza. She says it was the most distressing. The Gaza Strip, she says, has never experienced such a prolonged crisis. Starved for electricity, relief from the heat and hope for the future, the Gaza Strip's 2 million residents, most of them refugees, are struggling to survive while holding on to their humanity. Stephanie Breitsman and Ori Nir talked with Abby.
The title of this PeaceCast episode is Major Departure – with a question mark.
Episode 22 is a major departure from our typical modus operandi.
Unlike past episode, this one is a round-table discussion by APN staff.
The topic of our discussion is whether the Trump administration's failure to endorse the two-state solution is a major departure from what has been a tenet of US foreign policy for the past fifteen years: a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Participating are Debra Shushan, APN's new Director of Policy and Government Relations, Aaron Mann, our associate director of communications, Stephanie Breitsman, our program assistant and co-producer of PeaceCast, and Ori Nir, APN's communications director and PeaceCast's host.
Daoud Kuttab a veteran Palestinian journalist, now lives and works in Amman as the director-general of the Community Media Network a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab world. In a conversation with APN's Ori Nir and Debra Shushan, he lays out Jordan's perspective on the recent Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif crisis and the deteriorating relations between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel.
Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group is a leading expert on the Holy Esplanade, the site in Jerusalem that Jews refer to as the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Haram al-Sharif. Ofer analyzes the current crisis and discusses ways in which similar crises may be avoided in the future.
This episode is a slightly edited recording of Americans for Peace Now's second edition of The Dove, a storytelling event modeled after the well-known storytelling enterprise, The Moth.
This event took place as violence was spiraling in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The seven storytellers, however, tried to underscore hope, and we deeply appreciate them for it.
This event was co-sponsored by New Story Leadership, a Washington-based organization that brings together young Palestinians and Israelis to Washington for networking, honing leadership skills, and building bridges of peace and mutual understanding.
Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, where he focuses on Palestinian politics. Amir Tibon is the newly-appointed bureau chief of Israel's Haaretz newspaper.
Together, they authored a new biography of Mahmoud Abbas, (Abu Mazen) the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Chairman of the PLO.
Their book, The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas, was launched on July 11 2017, and we interviewed them the next day at APN's office in Washington. This episode is slightly longer than our most recent ones. We hope you agree it's worth it.
Katya Lipovetzky, an Israeli, recently graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Hashem Sayyed, a Palestinian, recently graduated from al-Quds University, the Palestinian university of Jerusalem.
Hashem and Katya are APN's summer interns, working together to produce our second storytelling event, The Dove.
The two are enrolled in New Story Leadership, a summer program in Washington that gives young Israelis and Palestinians a chance to meet each other, to network, to learn how Washington works and to hone their leadership skills.
In this short episode, Ori Nir and Stephanie Breitsman talk with Katya and Hashem about their lives and the conflict. To meet the two of them and four more of the NSL fellows Come to The Dove on July 20th, at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC at 8:30 PM. If you can't attend, you'll be able to listen to these young people's stories on a special episode of PeaceCast.
Carmi Gilon, the former chief of Israel’s secret service, Shin Bet, for years helped run Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Like many other Israeli former senior security officials, he became an anti-occupation peace advocate when he finish his service. If you watched the documentary The Gatekeepers, which features Carmi Gilon among six past heads of Israel’s Shin-Bet, you understand why.
Episode 16 of PeaceCast features a conversation with Gilon, who today is the executive chair of Cytegic, an Israeli cyber security company.
Gilon served in the Shin Bet from 1972 just a few years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, through 1996. He was the head of the service for a year (1995 to 1996), and then served in several public positions including the director of the Peres Center for Peace and Israel’s ambassador to Denmark.
Stephanie Breitsman and Ori Nir spoke with him at APN’s office in DC on June 29th, 2017, while Gilon was on a Washington visit organized by J Street.
Around 15% of the Jewish settlers’ population in the West Bank are of American origin, American Jews who have made Aliyah (emigrated to Israel), and chose to settle the West Bank.
It feels as if their proportion is even larger, because they are so central to the ideological settlers’ movement, so active and so vociferous.
The expert on this issue is Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn, a lecturer at Oxford University in the UK. Her recently published book on this topic, is City on a Hilltop. Sara spoke about the focus of her research at a book event co-sponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Americans for Peace Now at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC on June 25th. This show is an edited version of her talk. I moderated the discussion, and learned a lot.
Sara's Haaretz articles
The Atlantic's review of Sara's book
This episode is the second in a series that focuses on the Gaza Strip. APN's Ori Nir and Stephanie Breitsman interview Rania al-Hilou, a young professional woman living in Gaza City, who describes living conditions with only two hours of electricity a day, and UNRWA's Scott Anderson, formerly the Gaza operations director and currently the West Bank operations director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. And, as a kicker, an introduction to the Gaza Strip's only rock band.
Hyperlinks: UNRWA, ANERA, Rania's essay on life without power in Gaza, Typo band's "Dream of Dawn" on YouTube, Typo's Facebook page
This episode has two segments, both relate to the Gaza Strip.
The first segment is an interview with the World Bank’s country director for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Marina Wes. She talked about the terrible state of the Gaza economy, about its dependence on external financial assistance, and about its grim future.
The second segment is a conversation with Haim Malka of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, who focused on Gaza’s largest donor, the gulf emirate of Qatar.
This special edition of PeaceCast features four interviews recorded at Peace Now’s massive “Two States – One Hope” demonstration marking fifty years of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and calling on Israel’s government to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. Interviewed are Peace Now co-founder Tzali Reshef, former Israeli ambassador to France and veteran Israeli diplomat Daniel Shek, Haaretz’s senior columnist Chemi Shalev and Peace Now’s director of external relations Anat Ben Nun.
Israeli-American storyteller and peace activist Noa Baum, whose show A Land Twice Promised has won praise throughout the US, has now published a book under the same title. APN’s Stephanie Breitsman and Ori Nir spoke with Noa about the power of storytelling, about empathy and compassion, about changing hearts and minds, and about hope.
Why did ten American rabbis, ten US evangelical pastors and ten American Muslim Imams fly together to the Gulf Emirate of Abu-Dhabi? And is there a justified security rationale for the extremely tight Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ movement into and out of the Gaza Strip?
These are two of many fascinating questions discussed in this short episode of PeaceCast, which features two interviews. A conversation with Sari Bashi of Human Rights Watch about restrictions on movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip, and a talk with Rabbi Laurie Rice of Nashville on an extraordinary gathering of Jewish Muslim and Christian clergy in the United Arab Emirates.
What does Israel’s West Bank settlement policy have to do with international soccer?
Dr. James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, is the leading world expert on this subject. He is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, a book that among other things explores the topic of this episode's discussion. Dorsey closely follows the way in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out on the soccer field, in FIFA, the international soccer association.
FIFA is expected to take up the issue of Israel's establishing soccer clubs in West Bank settlements in the upcoming meeting of its governing bodies in Manama, Bahrain, on May 9th 2017.
Dr. Dorsey joined us by Skype from his home in Singapore. Apologies for the subpar audio quality.
James M. Dorsey
This episode is a treat. It is a recording of APN’s first in a series of storytelling events, modeled after the popular storytelling show The Moth. We call ours “The Dove.” Ours focuses on stories about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, personal stories that inspire hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
This show features US journalists Barbara Slavin and Tim Phelps, Palestinian journalist Nadia Bilbassy, Ori Nir, formerly with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, and Noa Baum, the show’s host, a professional storyteller, educator and author.
The show was recorded on April 6th, 2017 at Washington DC’s Busboys and Poets.
This show of The Dove is the first in a series. If you have ideas for future storytellers, please contact us at email@example.com and if YOU have a story to tell about hope for Middle East peace, which you are willing to share it with us, please send it, preferably as an MP3 audio file attachment, and we may feature you on our podcast or in one of our upcoming events of the Dove.
Israeli political science Professor Galia Golan has in recent years focused her research on opportunities that the government of Israel has missed to advance peace with its neighbors or to avert wars. A recent Israeli State Comptroller report asserts that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his then-minister of defense Moshe Ya’alon were advised of possible ways to avert the 2014 “Protective Edge” Gaza war, but did not discuss them with members of the Cabinet. Golan says the decision to wage war fits into a longtime Israeli leadership pattern that mainly stems from a deep mistrust of the other side. Golan also addresses the Israeli government’s de-facto creeping annexation of portions of the West Bank, pointing out that such actions are slamming the door on the two-state solution and pushing Israel into a state of apartheid.
This episode features a documentary film about Israeli and Palestinian former combatants, who have come together to advocate within their societies and across the societies for peace. These are people who in the past saw each other through the crosshairs and today are jointly devising strategies to break the status quo of enmity and apathy, fear and hate in both societies, working together to pave a way for ending the conflict.
The name of the documentary is Disturbing the Peace; more on the significance of this name in the following conversation. The name of the organization that is profiled in the film is Combatants for Peace. Participating in the conversation are Stephen Apkon and Marcina Hale, the co-creators of the film, and Maya Katz, a member of Combatants for Peace.