Established](http://peacenow.org/pages/history.html) in 1981, Americans for Peace Now (APN) describes itself as “the leading voice of American Jews who support Israel and know that only peace will ensure Israel’s security, prosperity and continued viability as a Jewish, democratic state.” “The only viable” means of achieving such peace, says APN, is to permit the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
APN derides Israel’s “failed” efforts to “pressure Hamas” by means of boycotts and the Gaza blockade, measures that have “neither ousted Hamas from power nor forced it to accept international conditions.” Instead, says APN, such “collective punishment” has created “a miserable humanitarian situation” in the Palestinian regions while drawing “harsh criticism of Israel” from all over the world. To address this problem, APN urges the U.S. to “press Israel to finally end the siege on Gaza,” even as America joins the Jewish state “in demanding that Hamas end/prevent rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.” By APN’s reckoning, Hamas’s sworn intent to permanently destroy Israel should not, in itself, disqualify the terror group from being viewed as a legitimate participant in Palestinian government. American and Israeli attitudes toward any such government, APN holds, should be dictated by its “positions and actions,” not by “whether Hamas is included in it.”
APN contends that the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem not only “extinguishes hope among Palestinians that Israel is serious about peace,” but also “destroys the credibility of Palestinian moderates who reject violence and tell their people that negotiations will deliver a viable state.” APN president/CEO Debra DeLee, who also sits on the directors’ board of J Street, accuses the Israeli government of failing to “enforce the law against settlers when they rob, vandalize, and assault Palestinians.” “It is difficult to expect respect for the state and its institutions when the government shows distain for its own laws,” she says.
APN urges the U.S. to continue its “robust” economic assistance to Israel, provided that none of those funds are used to support settlement-related activities in the West Bank. By the same token, APN maintains that American aid should play “an important role” in funding Palestinian humanitarian projects, civil-society programs, and training initiatives that could “bolster Palestinian moderate leadership.”
“Those who support settlement in East Jerusalem and oppose negotiations over the future of the city,” APN suggests, “are in effect calling for Israel to live forever by the sword.” As an alternative, the organization advises “a mutually-agreeable, negotiated solution” whereby “Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem would be under Palestinian control, Jewish areas under Israeli control, and the Old City under special arrangements agreed to by both sides.”
While acknowledging that the Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries around the time of Israel’s creation in 1948 “have every right to seek redress,” APN says that “Jewish refugee claims do not ‘balance out’ or erase the Palestinian refugee issue.” It would be “morally indefensible,” the organization emphasizes, to try to hold Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations “hostage to the resolution of these claims.”
APN advances its views and agendas regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict by producing press releases and editorials; providing “a pro-Israel, pro-peace, American Jewish perspective on issues and legislation”; and engaging in grassroots political activism and outreach to the Jewish- and Arab-American communities, opinion leaders, journalists, university students, and the public at large.
APN’s president/CEO Debra DeLee served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1994-95 and was a super-delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Other noteworthy members of APN’s board of directors include Jeremy Ben-Ami (executive director of J Street), Peter Edelman, and Peter Weiss.