Daily Israel Report

Even 'Peace Now' Getting Fed Up With Arab Officials?

Peace Now's Lara Friedman relays her dissatisfaction with the failure of Arab officials to acknowledge Jewish rights to Jerusalem.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/28/2012, 12:19 PM / Last Update: 2/28/2012, 2:19 PM

Peace Now posters at a rally
Peace Now posters at a rally
Flash 90

Americans for Peace Now's Director of Policy and Government Relations, Lara Friedman, has expressed her discontent and dissatisfaction with the failure of Arab officials to acknowledge Jewish rights to Jerusalem.

While Friedman is vehemently against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, military action against Iran, and advocated on behalf of freeing the Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan from Israeli administrative detention, she nonetheless laments that the Arab League’s Conference on Jerusalem in Doha on Sunday did not give voice to Jewish perspectives.

“When I was invited to this conference, I took this as a sign that the Arab League wanted to capture the full complexity of the issues related to Jerusalem, including openly pro-Israel, pro-peace voices," she wrote Monday in the Forward.  "However, it seems that virtually every conversation I am having here involves me, to a greater or lesser degree, having to defend the two-state solution and having to assert and defend the Jewish stake in Jerusalem.

“[I]t seems to me that by not having more pro-two-state solution, Jewish voices here, the Arab League is doing a disservice to the cause it is ostensibly concerned with — the health and status of Jerusalem — and missing an opportunity. The Arab world, and activists around the globe concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do themselves no favors when they listen to voices that tell them only a piece of the story that is comfortable to their ears.

"Speakers at Sunday’s opening session, including Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas, one after another laid out laundry lists of criticisms of Israel — many of them regrettably marked with exaggerations. All also spoke a great deal about Muslim and Christian attachments to Jerusalem and the importance of defending the holy sites and communities associated with both religions. However, only one speaker, Michel Sabbah, formerly the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, mentioned any Jewish connection to the city,” she added.

“This is a serious problem,” Friedman proclaimed. “If President Abbas cannot acknowledge Jewish claims in Jerusalem, even as he asserts Palestinian claims (a problem Yasser Arafat suffered from), he should not be surprised if it is more difficult for Israelis and Jews, wherever they are, to believe that he can be trusted in a peace agreement that leaves Jerusalem sites precious to Jews under Palestinian control. 

“If representatives of the organization that sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish equities in Jerusalem, they should know that they discredit their own professed interest in peace. 

“All throughout the day, it was unfortunately the same story. Participants talked about Jerusalem as if Jewish history did not exist or was a fraud — as if all Jewish claims in the city were just a tactic to dispossess Palestinians.”

She concluded by saying that she “regret[s] that the conference so far has not taken the issues related to Jerusalem more seriously. Much of the discourse here thus far has been personally objectionable and even painful to me, but I believe my presence here is important for the cause of peace.”

Friedman, like Norman Finkelstein, among others, seem to be disheartened and disillusioned by the liberal, leftist and anti-Israel groups which they espouse. Finkelstein recently admitted that the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which he so closely aligned and supported in the past, is “a cult.”