Archive for January 2007

CALME Luminaries Support Secretary Rice and Revived Effort at Peacemaking

January 31, 2007

 A number of CALME luminaries have been speaking out in support of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking:

* Most recently, a top Reconstructionist and a top Reform rabbi joined a multidenominational delegation of religious leaders led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who met with Rice on Monday to encourage her to press Israel and the Palestinians into making peace.

* “Somebody’s got to help break the stalemate,” said [Rabbi Jerome] Epstein, who signed a December letter to Rice from the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East that led to Monday’s meeting. “I would encourage both sides to do it between themselves, but that isn’t necessarily working, as we have seen on a regular basis.”

*Rabbi Amy Small, a former president of the Reconstructionist movement who was at the meeting, said rabbis were natural interlocutors for peaceful intervention.   “The Jewish community prays for peace,” she said outside the State Department after the delegation met with Rice. “If we can achieve that, it will be celebrated.”

*Rabbi Paul Menitoff, an executive vice president emeritus of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, said the U.S. role was critical to nudging the sides forward.  “The leadership of the United States is going to be not only to get the parties to the table, but to get concessions from both sides,” he said.

* The religious leaders who met with Rice have some allies in the pro-Israel community. Notably the Israel Policy Forum has commended her for pushing forward, and Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom also are sympathetic.  

See the full article here. (more…)

CALME Co-Chair in The Jersulem Post

January 29, 2007

CALME Co-Chair Joel Tauber was quoted in the Jerusalem Post today on the President’s SOTU language citing the need for a two state solution:

“Joel Tauber a former chairman of the United Jewish Communities and co-chair of Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East agreed that Bush remained strong on Iran in his address. He said that political constraints – the need to win the audience over on Iraq and domestic issues – might have affected the tone of the speech but not the policy underlying it.

Tauber whose group wants to see greater American engagement on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and called for Bush to emphasize the issue in the State of the Union assessed that Bush is committed to a more active American role in ending the conflict even if he only allocated a few words to that effort.

Speaking of America’s work with the international community Bush said “With the other members of the Quartet – the UN, the European Union and Russia – we are pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, in peace and security.”

“He gave us one sentence – it’s better than nothing Tauber commented, but he also said, “It certainly would have been more gratifying if he had made a stronger statement.”

Full article here. (more…)

OneVoice at Davos

January 29, 2007

The young leaders of OneVoice gave a powerful speech at Davos this week in front of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Vice-Premier Shimon Peres.  Nisreen Shaheen, the Executive Director, said: “Enough promises, enough excuses, enough suffering … Help us not to lose hope, help us strengthen this movement, help us strengthen our leaders, that they may sit down at the table and stand up with a fair and lasting peace agreement.”

 The inspired speech led the three gentlemen to respond to the 1,389 Activists from OneVoice Movement with this commitment: ‘We will Work For A Two-State Solution’.

 Full press release below. (more…)

American Stewardship Key to Negotiations

January 29, 2007

Haaretz Diplomatic Editor Aluf Benn’s piece on Rice’s trip highlights the timely need for American stewardship in the Middle East:

“Nevertheless, Rice’s new effort may help them to prepare the ground for future negotiations, implement confidence-building measures and, most importantly, prevent another escalation. Under American stewardship, it has been easier for Olmert to hold Israel’s fire in Gaza, transfer withheld tax revenues to Abbas and call off a controversial settlement-building project beyond the barrier. American help is also instrumental in keeping Abbas afloat.

Given the dark reality of the past six years, these minor developments are still better than sitting tight in Washington and shrugging off the peace process.”

The full article is below. (more…)

Press: CALME in JTA News Service

January 25, 2007

Petition urges two-state solution
JTA News Service
 
Thousands of Americans signed a petition urging President Bush to expedite a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The letter was sponsored by The Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East, a joint Jewish and Arab initiative dedicated to the two-state solution since 2005.

“We hope the president will announce in his State of the Union address” that “reinvigorating international efforts to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace is a central goal of American foreign policy,” campaign co-chairman Joel Tauber said Monday.

“Our letter demonstrates the American public’s support for his determination to actively pursue peace between the two peoples.”

Bush will deliver the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Press: CALME in Forward

January 25, 2007

Former Secretary of Defense, Other Ex-Officials Call for U.S. Peace Initiative
Several Prominent Jewish Communal Figures Join Push
Nathan Guttman | Tue. Jan 23, 2007

WASHINGTON — In a press conference on Monday, former secretary of defense William Cohen called for stepped up American efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The event was organized by the Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East. The group has lined up 275 former administration officials, members of Congress, business leaders, Arab American activists and Jewish communal leaders to support a statement calling on President Bush to launch a new peace initiative.

“We urge you to mobilize international support for that goal and to pursue progress with determination, fairness and creativity until success is achieved,” the letter to Bush reads. “We fully understand the potential obstacles ahead. We also understand the consequences of failure. Failure must not be an option. You have our strong support to stay the course.”

Several Clinton-era officials signed the document, including former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, former secretary of defense William Perry and peace negotiators Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Rob Malley. (more…)

CALME in Inter-Press News Service

January 25, 2007

Bush Urged to Make Israeli-Palestinian Peace Now
Jim Lobe

Inter-Press News Service Agency

WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (IPS) – As U.S. President George W. Bush puts the final touches on his State of the Union Address, an unusually broad group of Middle East specialists here is hoping that he will make his proposed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a centrepiece of both his speech and his last two years in office.

Despite the political weakness of both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the group, the Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East (CALME), believes that the current moment offers a major opportunity for a breakthrough in the 60-year-old conflict, so long as Bush is prepared to become far more deeply involved in the effort than he has in the past.

The group includes a large number of regional and national security specialists, including most of the members of the 10-person bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG), such as its co-chair, former Rep. Lee Hamilton and former Republican Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, as well as a number of other cabinet members of both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“Momentum is building,” said CALME chairman William Cohen, who just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt — which have also been calling with growing urgency for Bush to commit himself to a peace settlement. “We must seize this opening.” (more…)