Striving For Peace and Friendship
The Middle East Peace Working Group Vision Statement We, the Middle East Peace Working Group, are Jewish, Christian, Muslim and civil society groups and individuals inspired by core teachings of our traditions, and our belief that peace is possible in the Middle East.
We affirm with urgency that Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is more vital than ever. We are guided by the principle of cooperation in which we acknowledge how our bonds with those on different sides of the conflict sometimes lead to differing viewpoints, and we reemphasize our common agenda for peace.
We derive encouragement from benchmark principles developed by Arabs and Israelis in earlier formal and informal negotiations that provide practical parameters for a final status peace agreement that could be acceptable to majorities of Israelis and Palestinians.
We believe that U.S. support for these steps is essential to preserving hope for negotiated Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace, and that achieving peace would have profoundly positive effects on other current conflicts and challenges in the Middle East.
As national religious and civil society leaders, we pledge to urge members of our communities across the country to work actively for a two-state solution. We will support positive efforts by political leaders and civil society organizations to help move towards this goal.
Obama Plans Visit to Israel This Spring
Posted: January 9, 2014
WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to travel to Israel this spring for the first time since taking office, as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the last four years now that both have won re-election.By making Israel a stop on the first overseas trip of his second term, Mr. Obama hopes to demonstrate support for the Jewish state despite doubts among some of its backers. But the trip also seems designed to signal a new start in a fraught relationship rather than an ambitious effort to revive a stalled peace process.
Israeli-Palestinian schoolbook Project
The "Portrayal of the Other" in Palestinian and Israeli school books
Posted: January 9, 2014
JERUSALEM — A State Department-funded study released Monday on the contentious issue of how Israelis and Palestinians depict each other in textbooks says both are locked into narratives that portray the other side as the enemy and erase it from maps, yet do not dehumanize each other. The independent study, billed as the first empirical and quantitative analysis of textbooks on both sides, was boycotted by Israel's Education Ministry, which refused to cooperate. The ministry called the study biased and said it was based on a false comparison between the Israeli and Palestinian school systems.
It's Not Just About Fear, Bibi, It's About Hopelessness
Posted: January 9, 2014
The following statement was written during the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip in late November by Nomika Zion, a member of Migvan, an urban kibbutz in Sderot, the Israeli city about a mile from the Gaza Strip border that has been a primary target of rockets launched from Gaza since the second intifada started in 2000. In 2008, fifty rockets a day hit Sderot, and in late December 2008 Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, leading to three weeks of armed conflict in Gaza. The Migvan urban kibbutz was founded in 1987 by a relatively small group, most of whose members had been raised in the agricultural kibbutz movement. The first wave of residents of Sderot, which now has more than 24,000 people, came in the 1950s and was largely made up of Moroccans. A second wave came in the 1990s from the Soviet Union and from Ethiopia.
John Kerry plans to restart peace process as secretary of state
Posted: January 9, 2014
US Senator John Kerry plans to restart the peace process in the Middle East if he becomes secretary of state, the American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Army Radio on Friday. This announcement confirms what Mr Kerry said in his US Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, where he said he hoped the Israeli elections would allow for a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Speaking about the Israeli elections, he said: "I pray that maybe this will be a moment that will allow us to renew the effort to bring the parties to the negotiating table and go down a different path than the one they were on in the last few years. I would like to try and do that." He said that the US must engage in the peace process and that "real progress" was needed.
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Upcoming Events and Actions
Middle East Peace Reflections:
Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Dr. Sayyid Syeed
Sunday, January 13th, 2014
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
7727 Persimmon Tree Lane
Bethedsda, MD 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Israel: Building a Shared Society Third Annual Community Education Day on Israeli Arab Issues
Sunday, January 27, 2014
American University, Ward Circle Building
Washington, DC 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Political News and Information
ICYMI: APN Briefing Call 1/2/14: Leading Israeli columnist Akiva Eldar analyzes pre-elections Israeli politics; APN publication 12/31/13: Hard Questions, Tough Answers with Yossi Alpher: On Israeli elections, the 2-state solution leads
1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters (113th Congress)
(JERUSALEM) HR 104: Introduced 1/3/14 (the day the 113th Congress convened) by Rep. Garrett (R-NJ) and no cosponsors, “To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
2. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters (end of 112th Congress)
(PUNISH THE PALESTINIANS) Ros-Lehtinen et al Dear Colleague: As reported on previous round-ups (here and here), on 12/10/12, Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Berman (D-CA), Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY) began circulating a letter to be sent to President Obama, calling on the president to adopt suggestions actions to punish the Palestinians for going to the UN. The letter, which is listed on AIPAC’s Legislative Agenda, was reportedly originally supposed to circulate only until the 12/14, but was held open until 12/21 for signatures. In the end, the letter garnered 241 signatures. A table of all signers/non-signers is available here. For reporting on the letter, see here and here.
(HIZBALLAH/EUROPE) H. Res. 834: Introduced 12/17/12 by Kelly (R-PA) and having 85 cosponsors, “Urging the governments of Europe and the European Union to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization and impose sanctions, and urging the President to provide information about Hizballah to the European allies of the United States and to support the Government of Bulgaria in investigating the July 18, 2012, terrorist attack in Burgas.” Passed 1/1/13 under suspension of the rules by a voice vote. Floor discussion here. Kucinich (D-OH) statement 12/31/12 objecting to the resolution here. This resolution is listed on AIPAC’s website as part of the organization’s legislative agenda.
(HIZBALLAH/EUROPE) S. Res. 613: Introduced 12/11/12 by Lieberman (R-, I mean I-CT) and 65 cosponsors, “A resolution urging the governments of Europe and the European Union to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization and impose sanctions, and urging the President to provide information about Hizballah to the European allies of the United States and to support to the Government of Bulgaria in investigating the July 18, 2012, terrorist attack in Burgas.” Passed 12/21/12 by voice vote. This resolution is listed on AIPAC’s website as part of the organization’s legislative agenda.
(IRAN/BAHA’I) H. Res. 134: Introduced 3/1/11 by Rep. Dold (R-IL) and having 146 cosponsors, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Passed in the House 1/1/13 under suspension of the rules, by a voice vote. Floor discussion here.
(SYRIA) Moran et al letter: On 12/21/12 a group of Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton applauding the State Department’s leadership in assisting two million Syrian refugees and calling on the U.S. to dedicate more funding, study, and multi-government coordinated care for vulnerable women and girls in conflict and refugee zones.
The letter was signed by Reps. Moran (D-VA), Conyers (D-MI), Berman (D-CA), Lee (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Grijalva (D-AZ), Larsen (D-X), Towns (D-X), Honda (D-CA), Schwartz (D-PA), Sam Farr (D-CA), McGovern (D-WA), Ellison (D-MN), and Schakowsky (D-IL).
3. Members on the Record
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Engel (D-NY), and Sherman (D-CA) 12/31/12: Harshly criticizing Turkey for its treatment of Israel, in the context of discussion of HR 6649, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2012.
Kirk (R-IL), 12/21/12: Press release - New Iran Sanctions Pass Congress
Wolf (R-VA), 12/21/12: Speech on Deteriorating Situation in the Middle East Particularly For Religious Minorities
Johnson (D-SD), 12/21/12: On Iran sanctions and diplomacy
Levin (D-MI), 12/21/12: On the Iran provisions in the conference version of the NDAA