Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme, gradually become what people think they've always believed.
--Rebecca Solnit 

Longtime activists Mary and Evan Appelman played a small but significant role in helping make the two-state vision for peace the international consensus. They lived most of their adult lives in Downers Grove, Illinois,  where Mary dedicated herself to Middle East peace activism, while Evan worked as a research chemist at the nearby Argonne National Laboratory. Mary was chairperson fro m 1982 to 2007 of the America-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (AICIPP), which she led with the quiet assistance of her husband Evan until their retirement. 
 
Mary Appelman, Scott Kennedy, Ken Giles, Ambassador Talcott Seelye, & Allan Solomonow on 1979 peace delegation at the US Consulate in Damascus, Syria  
Mary Appelman first befriended  Major General Mattiyahu (Matti)  Peled, one of the founders of the  Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace  (ICIPP), in 1977. He had founded the Zionist group in 1975 along with other Israeli establishment dissidents including  Uri Avnery, Dr. Yaa'kov Arnon, and Aryeh (Lova) Eliav. They advocated in their Manifesto for what was then a radical position: two states and a shared Jerusalem. 

Ken Giles met Mary on a month-long 1979 peace delegation to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. "When we returned to the U.S.," Giles recalls, "Mary and Evan made a commitment to create an American support group for the two-state solution." So in 1982, they founded ACIPP to "try to focus American attention on the existence in Israel of a peace movement that advocates negotiations with the PLO and mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza."
 
Mary & Evan Appelman on April 4, 2015
Mary and Evan helped support ICIPP's work by building an audience for their publication, The Other Israel,  touring Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, and writing letters to the editor and publishing sign-on letters. They also published AICIPP's own newsletter, Voices for PeaceGiles recalls that Mary "enjoyed the friendship and respect of many people who worked for Middle East peace."
 
Mary Appelman passed away on February 25, 2016, and her husband Evan Appelman a year later on February 27, 2017.  Read AJPA's profile of Mary here.  

Israeli peace activist Adam Keller shares his recollections of Mary Appelman
 
Mary Appelman was instrumental in the inception of The Other Israel. It started with successful U.S. lecture tours she organized with Matti Peled and Uri Avnery. Many of the people they met expressed the hope of keeping contact and hearing regularly about what ICIPP was doing. So when they came back to Israel, it was decided to establish a monthly fact sheet, which would be sent to several dozen American contacts. I, as a younger member of the Council with a good working knowledge of English, got the job.
 
As originally conceived, it would have been just a single page devoted strictly to the activities of ICIPP itself and nothing else. However, when I started working on it, I soon felt that this was far too narrow a focus. We were often acting as a part of coalitions and networks and it seemed stupid and unfair to leave out the actions of partner organizations. 
 
At the time, we were engaged in opposing and confronting the law which forbade Israeli citizens to meet or shake hands with a member of the PLO  - and violators could get up to three years in prisons for this "crime". We were not the only ones to confront this law. For example, Abie Nathan - who was not a member of the ICIPP but a very active one-man peace movement - went to Tunis, met with Arafat, came back, went on trial and got half a year in prison. He ended his term, rested three days at home - and then went again to Tunis, met again with Arafat, and then back to prison. It would have been unthinkable not to write about him, though strictly it was not "ICIPP activity".
 
More contentious among us was the issue of Peace Now. It was the heyday of Peace Now, which was able to get tens of thousands into the streets. It seemed very strange to report about our own much more modest actions, meetings where we got the attendance of hundreds, and not write about much bigger Peace Now actions. But some of our people objected, saying: "Peace Now is never inviting any of us to speak from the podium in their rallies. They expect us to stand in the audience as anonymous foot soldiers or extras. Why should we promote them in America? And perhaps help them get donations?"
 
Mary Appelman helped tip the scales in this debate in favor of the "universalist" position. She told Matti, "People in America are not interested in petty squabbles and jealousies among Israeli peace organizations. They are very interested in getting hopeful news from Israel, the more the better." Matti always respected her position. 
 
ICIPP was the publisher, and our own activities were prominently covered, but it reported on anything that could be considered as promoting the achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace and opposing the occupation and settlement construction. This effectively included the whole spectrum between dovish dissidents in the Israeli Labor Party, deep in the political establishment, and very radical anti-Zionist groups. These two kinds of people had hardly anything to do with each other, but we tried to keep open channels with both, get information about what they were doing and publish it - and even when we had considerable political differences with both, we tried to present them in a non-polemical, matter-of-fact tone. 
 
Mary Appelman and the AICIPP were the most important in the network we had in various countries - including Joyce Blau's "Comité Palestine et Israël Vivront" in Paris, Misako Son-Nagasawa in Japan, and John Bunzl in Austria. At a rough estimate, I would say that out of some 4,500 readers, which TOI had at its peak, at least a third came through Mary Appelman and her fellow American activists.
 
Mary kept regular contact with us by writing, phone, and occasional personal visits (she usually came to Israel once a year, and our people came to the U.S. at least as much).
 
ICIPP faded away during the mid-1990s after losing prominent members and achieving a primary aim: for the government of Israel and the PLO to recognize each other and embark on negotiations. Perhaps most important, in 1992 Gush Shalom came into being, at the time a younger, more dynamic movement with a program essentially identical to that of ICIPP, and became effectively the successor of ICIPP. However, The Other Israel continued to list ICIPP as its publisher on the masthead until the very last issue in November 2009, though in practice we were on our own.  



Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of  Gush Shalom  and serves as the Israeli peace group's spokesperson. From 1983 to 2009, he was the editor of The Other Israel, a bi-monthly newsletter of the  Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (ICIPP) . He blogs at Crazy Country


 


The mission of the American Jewish Peace Archive is to document through oral history the accounts of Jews in the United States who have worked in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation since 1967, and in so doing, to facilitate dialogue and inquiry between the generations, to provide primary source material for scholars, and to provide guidance and inspire hope for the future.