December 2011 Archives

Peace, Roy

Sent: 12/16/2011 2:44:10 P.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: [CMEP Bulletin] Prospects for Peace Remain Dim at End of Volatile Year

December 16, 2011

Prospects for Peace Remain Dim at End of Volatile Year

Quartet Statement Shows Little Progress
Israeli Government Condemns “Price Tag” Violence Against Muslims, IDF
Newt Gingrich: Palestinians are “an invented people”
Report: Sharp Increase This Year in Provocative Actions
Women and Children Released in Shalit prisoner exchange
Send a Christmas Card to the President

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Quartet Statement Shows Little Progress

On December 15 the Middle East Quartet held separate talks with Palestinians and Israelis in hopes to jump-start the stalled peace process.  However the statement released after the meetings indicated no progress has been made.  It simply reiterated the September 23 statement, emphasizing “the important objective of a direct exchange between the parties, without preconditions or delay, beginning with a preparatory meeting and leading to the presentation of proposals on territory and security.”

The Quartet also included a phrase that has become commonplace in their statements, urging “the parties to refrain from provocative actions.” This statement is widely understood to mean Israel should stop building new settlements and some believe it has also come to mean that Palestinians should end their bid for recognition and membership in UN bodies.

Palestinian negotiators submitted their proposals on borders in November directly to the Quartet, while Israel has declined to do so citing their preference for direct negotiations rather than using the Quartet as a proxy.  The Palestinians refuse to do so as long as new Israeli settlement building continues and there is no agreement to negotiate borders on the basis of the 1967 lines with adjustments.

Israeli Government Condemns “Price Tag” Violence Against Muslims, IDF

There has been a sharp debate in Israel this week over violent “price tag” actions perpetrated by extremists from settlement communities aimed at derailing the Israeli government’s efforts to remove illegal outposts in the West Bank. “Hilltop Youth” (young extremist settlers) entered an Israeli army base, lighting fires, vandalizing vehicles and throwing stones on December 13. On December 15 a mosque outside of the West Bank city of Ramallah was torched and defaced.  It is suspected it was a “price tag” attack against the Palestinians in retaliation for Israeli army demolition of two illegal buildings in the West Bank outpost Mitzpeh Yitzhar.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned what he called “a string of violent attacks by criminal groups of extremists.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an urgent meeting of defense officials, saying, “We must take care of these rioters with a heavy hand.” The Netanyahu government has decided to start treating the radical settlers the same way they treat Palestinians.  Suspects arrested for price tag violence may be
detained for long periods without charge and tried in military courts (similar to the treatment of Palestinians suspected of violent acts). But, despite the recommendation of members of his cabinet, including Defense Minster Ehud Barak, Netanyahu declined to label the extremists as “terrorists.”

Newt Gingrich: Palestinians are “an invented people”

In an interview last Friday with the Jewish Channel, Republican presidential nominee front-runner Newt Gingrich stated his view that Palestinians are an “invented people”. The statement was widely seen as inconsistent with long-standing U.S. policy in regards to a Palestinian state.  His spokesman clarified Saturday afternoon that, “Newt Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state.”

However, when given the chance to backtrack and clarify the statement himself during Saturday night’s Republican debate, he instead went even further.  He told the Iowa crowd, “Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists.” Gingrich’s statements have been widely condemned. Here is a sample of the reactions:

  • The Los Angeles Times reports on the Palestinian reaction to the comments.
  • David Remnick gives a historian’s perspective in the New Yorker.
  • Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk tells theNew York Times, “Gingrich is not pro-Israel at all.”
  • The Jerusalem Postsays the Israeli government has stayed quiet over the issue.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells PBS that the statements were “unhelpful.”

Report: Sharp Increase This Year in Provocative Actions

This week, Amnesty International announced the findings of an international coalition of 20 leading aid agencies and human rights groups who came together to discuss the dire situation in the West Bank. Since the beginning of the year more than 500 Palestinian homes and other essential structures have been destroyed in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.  UN figures show that these demolitions have displaced more than 1,000 Palestinians.  This is double the number from 2010 and the highest since at least 2005.

According to Peace Now, over the past 12 months, 4,000 new settlement housing units have been approved, the highest number since 2006.  In November, Israel announced plans to speed up construction of 2,000 new units in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. Settler violence has also increased sharply according to UN reports.  Violent attacks by settlers against Palestinians have escalated by over 50% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 160% compared to 2009.  Settlers have also destroyed or damaged nearly 10,000 Palestinian olive and other trees during this year.  The Israeli police closed over 90% of the complaints of settler violence without indictment in 2005-2010.

The groups blame the Quartet’s inaction for these statistics.  “Israel’s escalating violations show the fundamental failure of the Quartet’s approach. It’s time for the Quartet to understand that they cannot contribute to achieving a just and durable solution to the conflict without first ensuring respect for international law,” said Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Interim Program Director at Amnesty International.

Women and Children Released in Shalit Prisoner Exchange

The final part of the Israeli deal with Hamas to return prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is set to take place in the coming days, Hamas officials say.  Six women and 55 children are among the 550 detainees to be released. There are currently 11 women and 164 children in Israeli jails. In October when the Shalit deal was struck, Israeli released 477 Palestinian prisoners out of the 1,027 agreed upon.

CMEP Christmas Card Campaign and Advent Resources

This year CMEP is helping to amplify your voices for peace by sending Christmas messages to President Obama and Secretary Clinton.   You may fill out an electronic version of the card or print off the card to share with your congregation or group.  Thank you for letting the administration know the U.S. Christian community encourages bold work for peace.

There are also Advent 2011 resources available on our website which includes scripture and reflections on peace, love, justice hope and joy. We hope you will reread, reflect and apply scripture in your lives today.  We encourage you to share these with members of your congregation to help raise your concerns for peace in the Holy Land.

A big thank you as well to everyone who gave during our Thanksgiving Weekend fundraising campaign. Through your generosity we were able to exceed our goal of $3,000. Thank you!

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 24 national Church denominations and organizationsincluding Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.… | 202-543-1222
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Peace, Roy

Sent: 12/17/2011 3:44:33 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Week in Review:- Settlers Turn on Palestinians and on Israel [December 10 – December 17]

Week in Review


The week was packed with events, both good and bad. At dawn today, December 17, Majed Nabaheen, 35, was killed in the Breij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip after being shot by Israeli soldiers just outside his house. Israeli shelling was already taking place in nearby agricultural land.

On December 10, another Palestinian died, 27-year old Mustapha Tamimi who was shot on December 9 and died later of his wounds. Tamimi, a familiar face in the Nabi Saleh weekly protests against Israeli land expropriation in the village, was shot at close range in the face with a teargas canister by an Israeli soldier.

Thousands of Palestinians, including presidential secretary general Tayyeb Abdel Rahim, participated in Tamimi’s funeral. Two people were injured and dozens suffered from teargas inhalation. Four protesters were arrested during the procession.

The week was marred by a number of settler attacks against Palestinians, namely against holy sites. On December 15, Al-Nour Mosque in the village of Burqa near Ramallah was torched and spray-painted with racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slogans a day after a similar attack took place on the Akasha mosque in west Jerusalem. Last week, a mosque was torched in the Nablus area village of Burqin, all by “price tag” settler groups who are protesting Israel’s attempts to evacuate illegal settlement outposts.

Settlers also raided the northern West Bank villages of Yasouf and Haris, torching two cars. According to local sources, the settlers snuck into Yasouf after midnight and wrote the words “price tag” on the village walls. Also, in the Nablus-area village of Duma, Israeli settlers set fire to a water tank and a car.

On December 16, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in Hebron after they had finished burying a settler and his wife in the nearby cemetery. He added that the clashes in the Tal Rmeida neighborhood had begun after one of the settlers spat on a young Palestinian man, which sparked a swift escalation in clashes between both sides.

But Israel was given a taste of its own medicine on December 12 when setters turned on their own people. Fifty settler youth entered a central West Bank military base, threw rocks and vandalized military vehicles, including the pelting of the deputy Regional Brigade commander with stones, setting fires, and throwing paint.

The settler vigilantes acted out in response to reports that the army was planning to evict a West Bank settlement. The youths were warded off by Israeli security forces.

That same evening, 17 right-wing activists, three of them minors, took over a church on the Jordan-Israel border in what they said was a “message” to Jordanian authorities to “keep out of Temple Mount affairs”, in reference to the closing of the controversial Moroccan Gate bridge that leads to Al Aqsa Mosque compound.

Seventeen settlers, who belonged to the so-called “hilltop youth” were arrested. The settlers took over churches near the Qasr al-Yahud holy site, which is the believed site of Jesus’ baptism after crossing the border fence into a closed military zone between the two countries.

Also on December 12, settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles east of Qalqilia and lightly injured three Sowwan family members including a 5-year old girl.

Not all settlers are happy with the turn of events though. On December 15, Menachem Froman the head rabbi of the Tequa settlement near Bethlehem said Jewish extremists who attack Palestinian mosques and property should be expelled from the country, saying Jewish groups who attack Islamic holy sites have nothing to do with the Jewish religion. He said the perpetrators and their families “should be kicked out of the country to the US from where they came,” and deserve to have stones thrown at them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although peeved at the settler attacks, would not go as far as calling them “terrorists” like some in his cabinet had liked to have done. Additionally, it has not stopped him from approving more and more settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. On December 11, tenders were approved for 296 housing units in Ariel, southwest of Nablus, in addition to 40 housing units in Efrat south of the West Bank. 1,700 dunums of lands are also slated for confiscation in the Bethlehem area for later settlement expansion.

Furthermore, on December 11, Israeli plans were announced to confiscate one million dunams of land from the Negev Bedouin. This would entail the destruction of 30 Bedouin villages and the displacement of around 100,000 residents. Israel’s plan aims at militarizing the northern part of the country and preventing any geographic contiguity between the Negev, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. The 200,000 Bedouin to be effected and the 100,000 dunams will be confined to a fenced in area similar to a military or refugee camp.

Tel: 022989490  Fax: 022989492

Note:   Alison writes:  “Yes, the Israel lobby has been busy.  But so have we.”  I highlighted Alison’s concluding paragraph.   Peace, Roy

In a message dated 12/14/2011 10:07:08 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,… writes:

Dear Friend:

The Israel lobby has been extraordinarily busy this year… but so has CNI, and we have some very good news to report.

First, some background.

Benjamin Netanyahu came before Congress demanding they follow his lead in Middle East policies—he received 29 standing ovations. Six weeks later, legislation was introduced that would require the State Department to investigate “the sources of any logistical, technical, or financial support” for the Gaza relief flotilla ships.

The State Department, in lockstep with the Israel lobby, threatened Hamas that it would withdraw some $100 million in aid to Gaza for health care, agriculture, and water infrastructure if they did not back off a demand to make public the expenditures and income of charities operating there—but that’s what the American government requires charities to do here.

Then there is Iran.

Netanyahu says he doesn’t believe economic pressure “will be sufficient to have this [Iran] regime change course without a credible military option that is put before them by the international community led by the United States.”

President Obama, of course, agrees with Netanyahu: “we don’t take any options off the table in terms of how we operate with Iran.”

And the Republicans ratchet up the threats even more: Every GOP candidate save one is beating war drums. Mitt Romney claims that if “crippling sanctions” fail, military action would be on the table because it is “unacceptable” for Iran to become a nuclear power. Newt Gingrich says the U.S. should be “taking out their scientists,” and “breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable.”

Coincidently, those things have happened recently.

Thanks to the Israel lobby, any effective utility of the U.S. in the Middle East is null and void. Failed foreign policies are being pursued faster than ever: a war with Iran would be more costly than Iraq and Afghanistan combined in terms of American lives, tax dollars, and U.S. strategic interests.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s tax-free foundation took 81 Congressmen, their families, and their staffs on a week-long “fact-finding” mission to Israel. Now, a group of 24 Hollywood actors and producers are about to take a similar excursion.

Yes, the Israel lobby has been busy, but so has your Council for the National Interest.

Just a few days ago, CNI made an investment in our future that I’m sure you’ll be excited about. It’s been in the planning stages for awhile, but now the details are just about in place: The Council for the National Interest is moving to new headquarters which will allow us to work more efficiently and effectively—and for less money.

CNI has operated out of its current location for nearly two decades. The office has served its purpose, but the building has seen better days. Modern and less expensive office space will give us the facility we need to expand our agenda.

And there is much more we need to do…

More than ever before, I have been speaking—especially on college campuses—addressing such issues as media bias, Palestinian statehood, and the history of the Israel lobby’s stranglehold on Capitol Hill. My presentations, and those of our Executive Director Phil Giraldi, have reached a wide variety of audiences from the American Muslims for Palestine convention to Congressman Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty—and from “tea party” organizations to the Move Over AIPAC conference. We are reaching more people—new constituencies.

The response is gratifying—and the talks are generating more engagements. We must fulfill those requests.

CNI’s media outreach has been successful too: our views have been broadcast on CNN, Russia Today, Croatian Television, NPR Los Angeles, Antiwar radio—and scores of local radio and TV outlets.

Now it’s time to step up our activities. Just after the new year, after we decide on the right office space, I’ll lay out some of our plans and initiatives with you.

In the meantime, let me share one aspect regarding our move. The sale of our offices will not only pay off the mortgage but will give us the opportunity to invest in new headquarters too. We’re not making much of a profit—it’s almost enough to get us debt free into our new location. We need your help to make the transition as smooth as possible—CNI cannot let the process of moving slow down or stop our hectic pace.

CNI needs the new office up and running quickly, and with the latest communications and technical support systems available. Moving costs and upgrades in computer and other systems will cost about $9,700. We do not want to take on any debt in this transition which is why your help is vital.

Will you consider a year end gift of $100 or $50 or even $25?  

I know that’s a lot to ask, especially at this time a year, but it is a good—and important—investment in CNI’s future. Here’s why…

This past year CNI has done so much thanks to your loyal support.

We actually started off with a significant debt, had to do some repairs and upkeep to this old office, plus we knew our message had to be strengthened, focused, and much more widely understood. We not only handled the problems of the internal support system, but CNI’s voice has been heard in person, broadcast in the media, and our message has appeared in print and on-line consistently—in new and important venues.

We re-built our website and invigorated our intern program that attracts bright and dedicated college students to help with ongoing research.

Now we have the opportunity to do even more and more effectively with the upcoming move. However, CNI needs your vote of confidence in this next step forward.

Your tax-deductible donation of $25, $50, or even $100 or $250 is crucial right now. May I count on your help before December 31st?

This time of year is always difficult for CNI—even if there was no special need. We must rely on our loyal friends to help us with major projects, and now for this move. Frankly, I’m hoping a few generous supporters will be inspired to underwrite our 2012 agenda with a particularly generous gift of $1000 or even $5000. (Remember, tax deductibility of donations for the 2012 IRS returns runs out on December 31st.)

Whatever you can afford, it will be put to good and urgent work. And, if you cannot invest in CNI at this time, please accept my sincere thanks for what you’ve done already to make 2011 a year of significant progress.

Our growth has been steady and our future, with your continued support, is secure. The Israel lobby is powerful and richly endowed, but our task is to tell the truth—and that does not mean matching AIPAC dollar for dollar. We just work harder, and smarter, than they do.



P.S. Remember, CNI’s success is built on grass roots support. Your tax-deductible investment of $100, $200, or $50 is key to our progress.  

Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 · Washington, DC 20024   
202.863.2951 · Fax: 202.863.2952…
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 “Greetings, World.  I come in Peace.  We live and learn.  Try to understand.”

There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware

There’s so much at stake that it’s time we’re awake.

The N.E.M.




      If you and I had been alive during the middle of the nineteenth century, would we not have tried our best to understand the thinking of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Frederick Douglass and others?


      If we had been alive during the 20th Century, would we not have worked very hard to understand exactly what FDR, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler and others were saying at the time?


      We’re in the 21st Century now.  Let’s make the effort to understand what this famous man is teaching.  Why?  Because his words have an influence on a large and growing number of Americans.  He’s a Septuagenarian.  He’s international in his thinking.  His standpoint of view could not be more ecumenical.  One doesn’t have to agree with every word he says in order to learn.  Let’s pursue peace in all our relationships, for Christ’s sake.  Do his words make sense to you and to me?  If not, why not?  Just so we know.



Cooperative Efforts, etc.

The N.E.M.




      Noam Chomsky is a Jewish Octogenarian.  A person can learn a lot about communications by studying his thinking.  A short interview is a good place to start:  Chomsky on US Media (06:53).  You will notice in the video that the questions are in Arabic and the answers are in English.  Notice especially what Chomsky says about Israel and Iran.  A person doesn’t have to agree with every word he says in order to learn from him.  He causes people to think.