Thursday, July 23, 2009

And here's the second water piece: Red-Dead Conduit

Another countdown begins

So today is a big day. I went to the Hill today to lobby for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Senator Merkley will be reintroducing it into the Senate legislation, hopefully before August recess, and both Senators Dodd and Lieberman have already agreed to cosponsor when it comes. Representative DeLauro was one of the original cosponsors of the bill in the House legistlation. So mostly it was a "Thank you" visit. But it was still pretty cool. I went with a fellow Machon Kaplan-ite who goes to Yale. I think we were a good pair.
This afternoon is my last at Americans for Peace Now, but I think my work here will continue. I'll have a "People for Peace" profile on the new APN website, and I'll continue to update Twitter and probably my blog with all the latest in the Middle East News, with some sprinkles of other Peace News (like the story about the KLA officer that the Serbs wanted to arrest... no update on that so far, but we'll see). Anyway, everything is wrapping up nicely. Katharine is here this week, and that's been nice as well. We went to the Natural History and American Indian Smithsonian Museums, and checked out an American Crafts exibit, which I thought was actually a museum until we went in and realized basically it was just a gallery full of whatever didn't fit in the American Art Museum.
Overall, my time in DC has been well spent. Once I'm at home and have a chance for some reflection, I'll be able to write more on a personal level of how I enjoyed Machon Kaplan and Americans for Peace Now.

In the meantime, here's APN's response to the "Breaking the Silence" testimonies I posted on last time. Looking Seriously at Breaking the Silence
And here's my first of two pieces on water resource struggle. Water Crisis reemerges in the Public Eye

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I know I still haven't posted a real update, but I've been busy.
In the meantime, here's something. I'm quite unimpressed by the "counter-testimonies" that exploded all over the internet today. These are soldiers' responses to other soldiers' stories about what really happened in Gaza this past winter. A lot of soldiers have been coming forward with stories of the unethical actions of the IDF during the war. In response, I've read in a few places today that other soldiers are coming forward with "counter-testimonies;" that the IDF didn't do anything wrong. However, none of the counter-testimonies I've read actually counter anything. They mostly state how Hamas used human shields. Well we knew that, but that doesn't negate your fellow soldiers' claims that the IDF did as well. Telling the world that Hamas is a terrorist organization does nothing for your cause. No one is saying that Hamas isn't bad. These counter-testimonies seem to just be deflecting the focus of the situation. Now, I'm not saying either set of testimonies is right or wrong. I wasn't in Gaza, so I know what happened about as well as any of you. I'm just saying, this whole "counter-testimony" movement does not seem to be doing its job very well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Americans for Peace Now wants to hear from you!

I'll have a more personal update on my life in DC later tonight, but first, please follow this link:
Americans for Peace Now wants to hear your questions, concerns, and comments on Obama's relationship with the American Jewish people, and the US demand that Israel freeze its settlements!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My blog entry for the RAC

RAC Intern Blog

Some of the edits really take out my stylistic voice. When will people learn that I like my sentence fragments and one word statements?! Anyway, the content is the same, so I thought you might enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Responses on the APN blog

Yesterday, I posted a link to the video of the attack settlers. Today, a response to that entry on the APN blog was posted. I'm not going to say exactly what it said, and it has now been deleted, but it was an extremely upsetting. It wasn't your usual lefty-bashing or settler-bashing, but instead bring the Shoah into the discourse in a way that made me feel - perhaps disporpotionately - uncomfortable. I don't think the world will see genocide against Jews again; I think the very word Holocaust still holds heavy fear. But if it were to happen again, the site of violence would probably be Israel, and seeing that comment in response to the settlers' behavior made me feel ominously sick to my stomach.

In case anyone needed yet another reason to boycott Walmart

"3-year-old Adolf Hitler finally gets his name on his birthday cake"

ShopRite refused to write "Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler," but Walmart didn't.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another blog post put unto the APN website

July 6, 2009, posted by Noam Shelef

(This post was written by APN intern Elizabeth Goldstein)

On Thursday, July 2nd, Americans for Peace Now held the first of its “Summer Intern Events.” Two international journalists came to the Rayburn House Office Building to talk about their perspectives as reporters on the status of events in the Middle East, including – but not limited to – the Arab-Israeli Conflicts.

Salameh Nematt is the International Editor with The Daily Beast. His reports from Washington include coverage of the U.S. involvement in Iraq, the global war on terrorism, the Arab-Israeli peace process, and the drive for democratization in the Middle East. Before coming to Washington, Salameh reported for al-Hayat from London and Jordan, was the chief political correspondent of the Jordan Times and of the Jordanian al-Rai, reported from Jordan for the BBC, and had a short stint as the head of the Strategy Unit at Jordan’s Royal Court, an advisory post for the King.

Nathan Guttman is the Washington correspondent of Israel’s public TV network - Channel 1 and Israel’s public radio, Kol Israel. He is also the Washington Bureau Chief for the Forward, America’s Jewish paper of record. For the past two decades Nathan closely followed the Israeli–Arab peace process and U.S.–Israeli relationship as a reporter and editor for Israel’s major news organizations. Nathan has been based out of Washington DC since 2001, where he also served as Bureau Chief for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper and for the Jerusalem Post.

As a completely unbiased intern who attended the event, I can say that the journalists’ perspectives were interesting and well-received, and the young interns (and some others) were responsive and appreciative of the opportunity to attend. Most interns are college students or immediately post-college, and though they are in Washington, DC as young adults looking to work in politics in some fashion, many are still in the “This is my summer vacation” mindset. Thus, getting interns to attend such an event at the end of the work day, especially a work day right before a long weekend, can be difficult. Nevertheless, room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building was nearly full Thursday night. Not only did a satisfactory number of interns come, but they came with questions and a thirst for a new perspective on the Middle East. Hot points for discussion were Israeli public opinions on settlements and the effects of new mediums such as blogging and Twitter on conventional journalism.

At the end of the question and answer session, as many were leaving to go on with their evenings, many others stayed behind to talk to the journalists and each other about all the information they had just taken in. I expect APN’s next event will be met with eager anticipation in response to the positive reactions to the first event of the summer.

(Click here to go to the APN blog)

Beware Attack Settlers

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And more pictures

A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam

Fourth of July on the National Mall is pretty awesome. We went down at three to set up our spot, have a picnic, etc. Then I went on a three hour walk with my friend Robb. We saw the Viet Nam memorial, the Korea memorial, then we went all the way out to the FDR and the Jefferson. Also the George Mason. It's been there since 2002, so before I first ever came to this city, and yet for some reason I'd never known George Mason was tucked in over there. And then it was FIREWORKS TIME! Woooooo. Someday I'll have to go back to Memorial Park to see the WWII memorial. It was blocked off all yesterday though because that's where they shot the fireworks off from. Here's some pictures of the day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wooo! It got posted to the APN site, even with the bi-national line!

July 1, 2009, posted by Noam Shelef

(This blog was authored by APN Intern Elizabeth Goldstein)

The Jerusalem Media & Communications Centre conducted two polls this year of Palestinians: one in late January, one in late June. The surveys indicate that in general Palestinians seem to feel better about their leaders and the U.S. role now than earlier in the year. At the same time, indifference and distrust for all politicians is prominent when it comes to local politics, U.S. relations, and relations with Israel.

In June, a heavy focus of the poll was the efficacy of the government headed by Salam Fayyad and the efforts to resolve the schism between Hamas and Fatah (the majority think this dialogue will fail and 26.7% blame Israel for this potential failure; support for the Fayyad government is at 37.8%, the plurality of those polled).

The poll shows that following President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, 37.9% of Palestinians feel optimistic about Obama’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict (up from 28.1% in January, which was at the time already a record high for any U.S. president ever). While the belief that Obama has had - and will continue to have - no effect on the conflict remains the view of the plurality (and this view has even increased among those polled in Gaza), the percentage of those pessimistic about U.S. relations with the Middle East has gone down considerably over this six-month period.

In addition to growing optimism, support for Fatah increased among Palestinians, 34.9% trust in Fatah’s ability to govern, a considerable jump from the January poll. In January, more Palestinians said they trusted Hamas (27.7%) than Fatah (26.0%). Their relative standing has now been reversed with 34.9% trusting Fatah and only 18.8% trusting Hamas. At the same time, Palestinians are more likely to trust no party at all than they are to trust either Fatah or Hamas, this was true for a plurality of Palestinians in January (29.4%) and in June (30.4%). West Bank residents were less likely to place their trust in any political party than Gazans.

The growing optimism may also be correlated with a rise in support for the two-state solution (from 54.8% to 55.2% support). Support for a binational state, while less popular, also grew (from 18.4% to 20.6%). All other answers decreased, including “Palestinian State” and “Islamic State,” which were not offered to interviewees, but were volunteered as solutions in both January and June.

Both polls surveyed just under 1200 people over the age of 18 randomly selected, 51.6% coming from the West Bank, 11.7% from Jerusalem, and 36.7% from Gaza.

Numbers don’t lie. Palestinians are incrementally more upbeat about their government, U.S. involvement, and even peace with Israel.