"Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace" - Is Peace Possible?

Posted on February 25, 2008 in Washington Watch

This month the U.S. Institute for Peace released “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East,” the report of a study group which examined U.S. peacemaking efforts over the past four decades. Headed by Daniel Kurtzer (former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel), the group met during 2006-2007 and interviewed over 100 officials and experts from seven countries and three international organizations.

The main body of the report is a concise and precise look at successes and failures, and strengths and weaknesses of the past three administrations’ efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It concludes by detailing ten lessons...

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Campus Attacks on Palestinian Students Part of Disturbing National Trend

Posted on January 26, 2008 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – The Arab American Institute is deeply concerned by recent attacks on three Palestinian students at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.

According to the Wilmington Star, Faris Khader, Osama Sabbah and Omar Awartani were “beaten with fists, feet and brass knuckles in an attack early Saturday involving at least 15 members of the school's football team…The attackers called the Palestinians ‘terrorists’ and used racial slurs during the attack.”

“This is a hate crime plain and simple and should be treated on the federal level as such,” said AAI President James Zogby. “It is a sad fact...

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He Came, He Spoke, He Left

Posted on January 22, 2008 in Washington Watch

Failing at home, President Bush traveled to the Middle East in an effort to secure success and respect in the last year of his presidency. During his recent seven nation tour of the region, he promoted the themes around which he hoped to build his legacy.

Overall, there were some interesting rhetorical highlights, but not much else. In fact, the rhetoric was so detached from the region’s current realities (many of which are due to Bush’s own blunders and neglect) as to render the effort surreal.

Nowhere was all of this more in evidence than on the...

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The Presidential Elections and Middle East Peace

Posted on December 10, 2007 in Washington Watch

Despite the acknowledged centrality of Arab-Israeli peace to U.S. interests and Middle East stability, the recently convened peace conference in Annapolis drew scant attention from the sixteen Democratic and Republican party candidates for president. Only a few offered comments, and then only when asked. On CNN’s “Late Edition,” Republican Mike Huckabee protested that Israel shouldn’t be pressured to give back the West Bank since the Arabs already have too much land, while on the day of the Annapolis meetings, Senator Chris Dodd, again on CNN, was supportive of the effort, but criticized the Bush Administration for having neglected the...

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The Peace Process on Life Support

Posted on December 03, 2007 in Washington Watch

The Annapolis Conference turned out to be much less than the “historic breakthrough” hyped by official briefers and dutifully (or naively) echoed in mainstream media.

In fact, Annapolis was only historic if one ignores the Madrid Conference of 1992. Or if one discounts the significance of the Israeli-Palestinian Accords signed in Oslo, Cairo, Paris, Washington, and Wye. Or the major post-Oslo economic summits in Casablanca and Amman. Or even George Bush’s own multi-nation gathering at Sharm el-Sheikh. In other words, Annapolis was only historic if one either disregards history or discounts its importance.

Seen in this larger...

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AAI to Co-Sponsor Capitol Hill Briefing on Annapolis Conference

Posted on November 28, 2007 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – November 28, 2007 – The Arab American Institute (AAI) is co-sponsoring a Capitol Hill briefing, entitled “Digesting Annapolis: What Happened, What It Means, What Happens Next?”, on Thursday, November 29 from 12 to 2 p.m. The briefing will be a roundtable discussion featuring leading American, Israeli, and Palestinian former negotiators, experts, and opinion shapers.

AAI is co-sponsoring the event with the American Task Force on Palestine, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Israel Policy Forum, Churches for Middle East Peace, and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

WHAT: Roundtable discussion entitled “Digesting Annapolis: What...

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Former Israeli and Palestinian Negotiators Discuss Prospects for Middle East Peace with Likely Iowa

Posted on November 20, 2007 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Nov. 20, 2007 – Former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Daniel Levy and Ghaith al-Omari spoke with likely Iowa caucus-goers on November 16 and 17 in a speaking tour organized by the Arab American Institute, Concerned Iowans for Middle East Peace, and Churches for Middle East Peace. Speaking in advance of next week’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, MD, Levy and al-Omari discussed current prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine before audiences in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and at Drake University in Des Moines.

The discussion series was part of an ongoing effort by the...

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AAI Commends Constructive Congressional Efforts Towards Palestinian-Israeli Peace

Posted on November 20, 2007 in Press Releases

WASHINGTON – November 20, 2007 – With the Annapolis conference less than one week away, the Arab American Institute commends the bipartisan efforts of Congressmen Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Charles Boustany (R-LA) (pictured left) to support U.S. engagement on Palestinian-Israeli peace. Yesterday, Ackerman and Boustany sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging sustained U.S. diplomacy, including a substantial increase in Palestinian aid. The letter was signed by 135 Members of Congress.

The letter advocates a reorientation of U.S. aid programs to the Palestinians, encouraging a focus on economic development and job creation. It also outlines...

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Democratic Candidates Discuss Israel-Palestine

Posted on November 06, 2007 in Washington Watch

Last weekend, most of the Democratic presidential candidates addressed remarks to a gathering of Arab American leaders assembled at their Quadrennial National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Michigan. An examination of how each of them dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proved quite revealing.

But first, to set the context. Over 600 Arab Americans gathered for this year’s NLC, sponsored by the Arab American Institute. Among the bi-partisan group were Arab American elected officials and party leaders, and representatives of forty-one organization from twenty states. During the three day meeting, they discussed key domestic and foreign policy issues, and took...

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An Arab Initiative to Avoid a Failed Conference

Posted on October 22, 2007 in Washington Watch

In the aftermath of Secretary of State Rice’s fourth recent visit to the region to prepare for a Middle East peace conference, only the meeting’s proposed location has been decided. The situation looks quite bleak, with little to show for the efforts made to date.

Early in her visit, Rice made an effort to tamp down expectations about the conference – not a good sign – sending mixed and confusing signals. Despite, yet again, reiterating the Bush Administration’s commitment to a Palestinian state, after meeting with a number of Israeli officials, the U.S. Secretary made it clear that...

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