Friday, September 25, 2009

My letter to the New York Times RE Israel and the Gaza War letter by Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab

Palestinian labourers are seen at a construction site in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem September 23, 2009. From the hills beyond Jerusalem, President Barack Obama might get a different view of Israeli settlements frustrating his ambitious drive to resolve the 60-year-old Middle East conflict. Building work continues as usual on the breezy slopes, regardless of Tuesday's damp squib summit in New York where Obama failed to persuade Israel to stop building so stalled peace talks might resume.REUTERS/Baz Ratner (WEST BANK POLITICS BUSINESS)

RE: Israel and the Gaza War by Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab

Dear Editor,

Good to see the clarion call letter "Israel and the Gaza War" by Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab. Surely the world has witnessed enough cruel crimes against humanity to realize the vital importance of respecting international humanitarian law.

This week a new banner "Peace Starts Here" commemorating UNRWA’s 60th anniversary has been unveiled. The banner will hang inside the UN building in New York and another, larger banner will adorn the outside of the General Assembly Building.

The protracted exile of Palestine refugees and the dire conditions they endure, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territory, cannot be reconciled with state obligations under the UN charter...” UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd

I very much hope that more and more Palestinians (including professional journalists) pick up the proverbial pen to help calmly explain the facts as well as reasonable and necessary steps we can all take to help bring a just and lasting end to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Anne Selden Annab
UNRWA Photo Archive
UNRWA photographs can be reproduced for editorial purposes only. They may not be used in advertising. All photos used must show the UNRWA photo credit line.

All of us depend on UNRWA - Queen Rania

All of us depend on UNRWA - Queen Rania

Her Majesty Queen Rania with UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd at a ceremony commemorating UNRWA’s 60th anniversary in New York on Thursday (Photo by Nasser Ayoub)
Her Majesty Queen Rania with UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd at a ceremony commemorating UNRWA’s 60th anniversary in New York on Thursday (Photo by Nasser Ayoub)

AMMAN (JT) - Her Majesty Queen Rania on Thursday commended the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at a ceremony commemorating the agency’s 60th anniversary in New York.

“UNRWA’s presence reminds the Palestinian people that they are not alone; that in their darkest hours, an international aid agency stands by their side,” she said.

During the event, held in the United Nations Building, Queen Rania joined UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the unveiling of the UNRWA@60 banner.

As the event highlighted challenges facing Palestinians and the continuous plight of the refugees, Her Majesty remarked: “You know, this is one event I wish I wasn’t at. I wish there was no need for UNRWA. I wish there was no anniversary to mark and I wish that there were not 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in need of humanitarian aid. But you and I know the reality is very different.”

“Theirs is a life interrupted, a life half-lived,” she added.

Her Majesty also pointed out that for 60 years UNRWA has contributed to alleviating a painful and protracted reality “not just by providing shelter, but sanctuary. Not just food, but nourishment. Not just healthcare, but compassion. And not just immediate needs, but the tools for long-term empowerment: Primarily, education”.

Queen Rania also expressed her deep gratitude to the agency staff, describing them as “people who have, and continue to endure indescribable hardship and danger, and risk their lives to help Palestinian refugees every day”.

In addition, she paid tribute to “those who lost their lives courageously helping others”.

Queen Rania also highlighted UNRWA’s difficult financial situation and urged all donor delegations to honour their pledges of funding.

“If we let UNRWA collapse, it will be the youngest that bear the greatest weight. If we let UNRWA collapse, we risk fuelling frustration, losing focus for peace talks and destabilising our region further. There is so much at stake. All of us depend on UNRWA.”

Despite pledges of almost $4.7 billion made for the reconstruction of Gaza, Her Majesty described the situation on the ground as “Hell. On. Earth,” warning that over 3,500 homes still have not been rebuilt and that a “ban on the entry of building materials means reconstruction has not even started”.

The Queen concluded by underscoring the vital importance of the agency’s services for 4.6 million people, asserting that for them: “UNRWA is not a choice or an option; it is not a whim or a luxury. UNRWA is a way of life; it is a way of living.”

At Thursday’s ceremony, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd noted that the Palestinians make up the world’s largest refugee group, and their plight has gone on longer than any other.

She urged the international community “to furnish the levels of financial and political support UNRWA requires to serve the Palestinian refugees better,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

UNRWA is faced by a serious deficit “that threatens its ability to continue delivering services,” she said.

AbuZayd asked for greater efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and with that, the plight of the refugees.

“The protracted exile of Palestine refugees and the dire conditions they endure, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territory, cannot be reconciled with state obligations under the UN charter,” AP quoted her as saying.

The agency, which provides food, medical, educational and other assistance to 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, was set up in 1949, a year after the creation of Israel.

25 September 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

PEACE STARTS HERE: UNRWA at 60 High-Level Event Week

UNRWA at 60 High-Level Event Week

On 8 December 2009, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, will be sixty years old: an occasion for sober reflection but also an opportunity to highlight the Agency’s service and achievements during six decades of work alongside millions of Palestine refugees.

Among the highlights of the anniversary activities is a week of events in New York commemorating the 60th anniversary of UNRWA’s establishment by the General Assembly.

View the Schedule of Events

Ministerial Breakfast and Banner Unveiling Ceremony

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Queen Rania of Jordan, Tony Blair, Quartet Representative, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro unveiled a banner commemorating UNRWA’s 60th anniversary alongside UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd. This banner will hang inside the Delegates’ Lounge, and another, larger banner will adorn the outside of the General Assembly Building.

Watch a live webcast on UNTV Channel 4 (8.15am EST)

Watch UNRWA at 60 – Providing hope

Read Karen AbuZayd’s speech
Read Queen Rania’s speech
Read President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech

Princeton University Debate: "Palestinian Refugees and the Peace Process"

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and Oxford Professor Karma Nabulsi debated the role that Palestine refugees play in the Middle East peace process. Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, moderated their discussion, and UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd responded to their comments.

Both Ben-Ami and Nabulsi gave forward-looking perspectives on how refugees would be involved in finding a solution to the conflict. Their comments were extremely timely, given the flurry of diplomatic activity surrounding the Middle East peace process and US President Barack Obama's remarks at the General Assembly debates this week.

Read Shlomo Ben-Ami’s speech
Read Karma Nabulsi’s speech

UNRWA Commissioner-General live on the Riz Khan Show, Al-Jazeera International

UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd appeared live on the Riz Khan Show to discuss UNRWA’s work throughout its 60 years.

Watch the video – part 1 | part 2

Commemorative Book Launch

UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd and spokesperson Chris Gunness unveiled a commemorative 60th anniversary book including wishes of support from over 80 countries. This event launched UNRWA’s week of anniversary activities at the UN General Assembly.
Watch a webcast of the launch
Read about the launch

Press Conference by Head of Palestinian Refugee Agency on its Anniversary Events

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Karen Koning AbuZayd, today announced a week-long series of events in New York to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Agency’s creation, which would culminate with an “UNRWA @ 60” ministerial-level event on 24 September. Read the full text

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Queen Rania of Jordan, Tony Blair, Quartet Representative, and UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro unveiled a banner commemorating UNRWA’s 60th anniversary alongside UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd. The banner will hang inside the UN building in New York and another, larger banner will adorn the outside of the General Assembly Building. ...more

President Abbas: Cry Out to Save Palestinian Refugees

President Abbas: Cry Out to Save Palestinian Refugees
Date : 24/9/2009 Time : 15:46

NEW YORK, September 24, 2009 (WAFA)- President Mahmoud Abbas said, today, “Let this celebration of the UNRWA’s 60th anniversary be a cry out for the world to move and resolve the longest harshest refugee problem in our time.”

He added at the UNRWA’s 60th Anniversary that the time has come to accomplish peace and justice, and allow all peoples, including Palestinian refugees to live in dignity, prosperity and security. The time has come to end the Israeli colonial occupation of our land, and for our people to enjoy peace and freedom, and make use of its possibilities and capabilities to build its state and the future of its children.

On this occasion, the President reiterated that the Israel’s security is linked to our independence and security, and that the continuity of the occupation and the perpetuity of disaster do not bring security to anyone.

The president called to accelerate the peace process, based on its stable references, to end the Israeli occupation of the Arab and Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, to reach the two-state solution, accomplish peace and find a just solution to the cause of Palestinian refugees on the basis of UN Resolution 194.

My letter to the Wash Post RE Talking It Out in the Middle East letter by Robert A. Pastor

RE: Talking It Out in the Middle East letter by ROBERT A. PASTOR, co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University and an adviser to the Carter Center.

Dear Editor,

"It’s become more clear than ever that President Obama is not going to drop this issue or back down in the face of Israeli stonewalling on settlements. He’s not going to be dragged into an endless series of dead ends either." Hussein Ibish : Obama's UN speech greatly strengthens the Palestinian position in negotiations

I very much hope that the positive momentum for creating a just and lasting peace continues. Yes there are many naysayers and cynics eager to sabotage progress- but heavens, in stark contrast to them Obama's speech yesterday was TOTALLY inspiring and invigorating: "Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more."

Accountability: We the people really can help keep the conversation on track- knowing that it is good to see this very reasonable letter "Talking It Out in the Middle East".

Anne Selden Annab

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

Useful Links


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction....[READ MORE]

ATFP: Gala 2009: Palestine Alongside Israel: Liberty, Security, Prosperity

The ATFP Gala is a black tie event.

This Year's Honorees:

Najat Arafat Khelil, Ph.D.
Dr. Shibley Telhami
Dr. Fuad Jubran

Special Recognition:
20 Years of U.S.- Palestinian Diplomacy

Amb. Robert H. Pelletreau

Honorary Host Committee:

ATFP is privileged to announce the Honorary Host Committee for the Gala.

Sponsorship Information:

The sponsorship form for this year's gala is now available. Please click here to download it.

If you would like to see more information about our sponsorship program please click here. To request additional information about sponsorships please fill out our online form.

Purchase Tickets:

Click here to purch

ase tickets

Previous Galas:

Haven't been to an ATFP Gala? Not a problem. Click below to check out previous Galas honoring the contributions of Palestinian Americans.

Gala 2006
Gala 2007
Gala 2008
Gala 2009: Palestine Alongside Israel: Liberty, Security, Prosperity

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) it is with great pleasure that I invite you to ATFP’s Fourth Annual Gala

. The Gala, entitled Palestine Alongside Israel: Liberty, Security, Prosperity will honor the contribution of Palestinian Americans to American society. The Annual Gala will recognize the accomplishments of leading Palestinian Americans in the fields of Scholarship, Medicine, and LifetimeAchievement.

The Gala will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at the Ritz-Carlton,

1150 22nd Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The VIP reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be immediately followed by the Gala dinner and program at 7:30 p.m. The event is black-tie.

Honorees include Dr. Fuad Jubran, head of the Jubran Center at the Cleveland Clinic; Prof. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution; and Dr. Najat Arafat Khelil, president of the Arab Women’s Council. ATFP will also extend a special welcome to Ambassador Robert H. Pelletreau, for his role in initiating a period of 20 years of U.S-Palestinian diplomacy.

At the first ATFP Gala in 2006, Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice was the keynote speaker, the first time a sitting U.S. Secretary of State addressed a Palestinian-American event. Under Secretary Nicholas Burns and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Both President George W. Bush and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent supporting letters to ATFP’s Second Annual Gala in 2007, and Third Annual Gala in 2008.

This year, a major national leader will be giving the keynote speech at the Gala. In addition, we are expecting over 500 distinguished guests that will include current and former U.S. government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and senior figures in significant American public and private institutions among the audience of more than 500 at this special evening.

We hope you will agree to attend our Gala, where your presence would be a real privilege for us.

With best wishes,


Ziad Asali, MD
American Task Force on Palestine

815 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
O. 202-887-0177, M. 202-345-0435

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ATFP Joins Letter of Support for Obama Peace Initiative

Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
September 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Washington, DC, Sept. 22 – Ziad J. Asali, President of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), joined over 30 ethnic and religious leaders in a statement supporting President Obama’s initiative to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The full text of the statement is reproduced below:

Letter in Support of a Comprehensive Middle East Peace:
An American National Interest Imperative

We come from varied ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths that are diverse. We are Democrats and Republicans. We are veterans of war and of the struggle for peace. Together, we are all Americans.

We find common cause in supporting strong U.S. leadership to achieve a negotiated, sustainable resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - a fundamental American interest that crosses racial, ethnic and religious lines.

We support President Obama's determination to provide sustained, hands-on diplomatic leadership to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end through the creation of two viable, secure and independent states living side by side in peace and security.

The President has made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority since his very first day in office, and we commend his leadership. We applaud the vision the President has laid out for peace in the Middle East and the challenge he has laid down to all of us to help work for peace and a more positive future for the people of the region and the world.

This is a moment of great opportunity and urgency. After decades of tragic conflict, many Israelis and Palestinians despair of the possibility of peace. While the international community and majorities of the Israeli and Palestinian people are committed to a two-state solution as the best option for achieving peace and security, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

We express our support for U.S. leadership to chart a path to a better future and to the following principles:
  • We support both Israel's right to exist in security and the right of the Palestinian people to a viable, sovereign and secure state of their own.
  • A peace agreement will need to fulfill UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and resolve critical issues of importance to the parties including refugees, borders, Jerusalem, settlements, and security.
  • The Israelis and Palestinians, however, have not - on their own - been able to reach agreement. After nearly two decades of negotiations, we believe bold American leadership can help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace and hold the parties to account should they fail to honor their commitments.
  • We support the sense of real urgency that the President brings to the issue and his determination to reach a negotiated resolution to the conflict during his first term in office.
  • At the appropriate time, we will support the Administration if it decides to present proposals for a just and equitable solution that provides dignity, security and sovereignty for both peoples.
  • Finally, we believe a peace agreement should be comprehensive - encompassing Syria and Lebanon as well as normalization of relations between Israel and the countries of the Arab world. We support the idea of a comprehensive regional peace that builds on the Arab Peace Initiative, with its offer of recognition and normalization of relations between Israel and all Arab nations in exchange for resolution of all outstanding issues.
Both sides must take steps to move the process forward, and we support the President's efforts to end Israeli settlement growth and to halt Palestinian violence and incitement. It is now time to move to the next stage of diplomacy and to address the tough issues that must be resolved to bring this conflict to an end.

There are many who will attempt to block the path to peace. They may believe that the status quo favors their interests or that time is on their side. The President should know that we understand the status quo is unsustainable and time is of the essence. We will stand with him as he promotes a fair and just resolution to this long-standing conflict and asks all parties to make the difficult but ultimately necessary compromises for peace.

We pledge to work with the President, to forge the path to peace and security for the Middle East. We also pledge to work with those in both societies who seek peace, justice, and security, and to stand up for those who hope for a better future for themselves and for the generations that follow.


Frank Anderson
Former Chief, Southeast Asian Division, CIA
President, Middle East Policy Council

Dr. Ziad Asali
President, American Task Force on Palestine

Robert Barkin

President; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Executive Director, J Street

Ambassador Warren Clark
Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace

Debra DeLee
President, Americans for Peace Now

The Rev. Mark Hanson
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
President, Lutheran World Federation

Father Theodore Hesburgh
President Emeritus, Notre Dame University

The Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard

Bishop of Albany
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Dr. Joel C. Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church
Member, Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals

Rev. Bill Hybels Senior Pastor
Willow Creek Community Church

Lynne Hybels
Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church

Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
General Secretary, National Council of Churches

Rabbi Peter Knobel

Former President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Charles Kroloff Former
President, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Imam Mohamed Magid
Imam and Executive Director, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, ADAMS Center, in Sterling, Virginia

Salam Al-Marayati
Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Rev. John McCullough
Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service

Rev. Peter Morales
President, United Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Archbishop Emeritus of Washington

David Neff
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Imam of Masjid al-Farah, New York City

Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr.
Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church, Dallas, TX

Hon. George R. Salem, Esq.
Chairman, Arab-American Institute
Strategic Advisor, DLA Piper LLP

Roland Santiago
Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Ron Sider
President, Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. John Thomas
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ Dr.

James Zogby
President, Arab American Institute

**This letter reflects the opinions of the individual signatories. Institutions are listed for identification purposes only**

My letter to the Guardian RE Hamas is not al-Qaida

A Palestinian boy points his toy pistol towards the camera while playing at a recreational event organized by the radical Islamic movement Hamas in a school in Gaza City during the second day of Eid al-Fitr. (AFP/Marco Longari)

RE: Hamas is not al-Qaida

Dear Sir,

Hamas is not al-Qaida- but they certainly are an investment in "Islamic Resistance"... we ignore that at our own peril.

Hamas does have some very talented speakers- quite adept at spin, but all in all Hamas mainly convinces Americans that Israel is the better investment.

Anne Selden Annab

Yahoo Pictures: Pakistanis burn representations of the Israeli and U.S. flag during a rally to mark Quds day in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday, Sept. 18, 2009. Thousands of people marched in Karachi Friday to mark Quds Day an annual anti-Israel commemoration that reflects Pakistan's sympathy with the Palestinians. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

My letter to USA Today RE Obama changes tenor of U.S. foreign policy

RE: Obama changes tenor of U.S. foreign policy

Dear Editor,

I very much hope that President Obama can help get Israel and the Palestinians on track to work together to shape a just and lasting peace.

Carter wisely warned that the goal of Israeli leaders who insist on colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem is a one state solution.

Israel's settlement projects and occupation of Palestinian lands must end: "In fact, in legal and diplomatic terms, there is no dispute. The international community has a legal, political and diplomatic body that is charged with determining these matters: the UN Security Council. And it is under the terms of a series of Security Council resolutions, beginning with Resolution 242, that the Palestinian and Arab position that the occupied territories are indeed occupied shifts from a political stance and a claim to being in legal terms an unassailable fact." Hussein Ibish 242, the occupation and the one-state agenda

FULLY respecting international law and basic human rights must be the priority- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

My letter to the CSM RE West Bank settlements become havens of Israeli surburbanites, Growth driven less by ideology than by middle-class economics..

(Photograph) Palestinian workers (right) complete Shlomit and Boaz Cohen’s home in Tekoa.
Yasmine Soiffer / Special to The Christian Science Monitor

RE: West Bank settlements become havens of Israeli surburbanites, Growth driven less by ideology than by middle-class economics could strain peace talks.

Dear Editor,

"Occupation by suburbanization" sums it up perfectly- THANK YOU for publishing this revealing story about the land grabbing settlement projects. Obviously Israel's generous subsidies, as well as its matrix of roads and IDF support, make these illegal land grabbing colonies more likely- but it is the individual that really bankrolls, sustains, and benefits from the settlement enterprise.

Meanwhile Palestinian men, women and children are walled away from their own land and unable to even see their own relatives, much less enjoy their own heritage- all so that Israeli Settlers can easily zip back into Israel-proper to work or visit family and friends. Perhaps the first best step in ending the occupation would be to open up all the roads for all the people, regardless of supposed religion or nationality: Israelis should wait with Palestinians at every checkpoint instead of getting preferential treatment.

Anne Selden Annab

West Bank settlements become havens of Israeli surburbanites
Growth driven less by ideology than by middle-class economics could strain peace talks.
Related Stories
Israeli settlements: Where, when, and why they're built 09/15/2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My online comment RE Settling for Failure in the Middle East by Stephen M. Walt in the Washington Post

RE: Settling for Failure in the Middle East by Stephen M. Walt

Dear Editor,

Many seek to sabotage and undermine peace and progress in the Middle East. I'd rather not. I'd rather err on the side of hope- and a realistic call to end the religious extremism and terrorism created in and by the Arab/Israel conflict.

Stephen M. Walt did all involved a huge favor with his revealing book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". It is good of him to step up now too, with a plea to get people to pressure Israel to stop oppressing and displacing Palestinians.

Walt points out
that there is "a new pro-Israel organization, J Street, which is committed to the two-state solution and firmly behind Obama." To be fair, I wish he had also pointed out that there is a serious and very professional pro-Palestine organization which is very much committed to the two-state solution and firmly behind Obama: The American Task for for Palestine, founded in 2003 to provide "an independent voice for Palestinian-Americans and their supporters and to promote peace."

According to their very informative website the "ATFP is strictly opposed to all acts of violence against civilians no matter the cause and no matter who the victims or perpetrators may be. The Task Force advocates the development of a Palestinian state that is democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in armed conflicts.

ATFP's founder, Ziad Asali, a Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem recently said : "The developing American and international consensus regarding the two-state solution has fundamentally transformed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from a zero-sum equation to what can and should be a win-win dynamic."

I like that.. and I hope my elected leaders are listening.

Anne Selden Annab