SUMMER REBUILDING CAMP APPROACHING: STILL TIME TO JOIN!
Plans for ICAHD’s 2013 Rebuilding Camp, our eleventh, are progressing apace. This year, as we’ve said in previous communications, we will be rebuilding Beit Arabiya, the home of Arabiya and Salim Shawamreh, which has become the “flagship” of ICAHD ever since its first demolition in July of 1998. Since then and until its sixth demolition just last November, Beit Arabiya has been visited by thousands of people: diplomats, parliamentarians, journalists, activists, fact-finding missions and other interested persons, many coming on our tours. Unlike in previous years, however, we will not rebuild the entire home. It is clear that Beit Arabiya is targeted and will be demolished yet again if rebuilt. But we don’t want to abandon the site – or the family – either. The ruins of Beit Arabiya are a powerful symbol of the 28,000 Palestinian homes and structures that have been demolished in the Occupied Territory since 1967, as well as the tens of thousands demolitions within Israel itself which date back to 1947 and the beginning of Israel’s ongoing policy of displacement.
The idea, then, is to rebuild Beit Arabiya as a site where people can come to learn first-hand of the human cost of Occupation and strategize on how to end it. Beit Arabiya is uniquely located on the edge of East Jerusalem and just within Area C therefore it is one of the few places that is accessible to both Palestinians from the West Bank and Israelis from West Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.
During the camp we’ll clean and clear the site, leaving, however, the rubble of the home as a memorial and witness. With the cooperation and encouragement of the municipality we’ll repair the road and place signs around Anata to ease visitor access. We’ll put in an infrastructure of electricity, bathrooms and maybe even internet. A room will be built that can be used for storage and as a place for groups to meet in if inclement weather. We will erect two strong, weatherized tents in which we will install exhibits and films of the history of Beit Arabiya, of Palestinian displacement and of other selected and changing themes, so that visitors can experience demolitions visually. The tents will be used for hosting groups and will also be a place for organizing strategy meetings among Palestinians, Israelis and internationals. Finally, using remnants from demolished homes they will be interspersed with indigenous trees and plants to create a large “rock” garden that can then be used as a setting for various activities. The camp will end with a ceremony during which the garden will be dedicated to all the Palestinians who have suffered from demolitions and displacement.
Therefore by the end of the two-week camp we will have rebuilt Beit Arabiya, both as a political act of resistance and as a site commemorating demolitions, but also as a serviceable facility for ICAHD and other groups to use. The family will be left with a facility they can turn into a home when that possibility exists but which, in the meantime, they can use to tell their story.
Besides the actual construction, the camp is also accompanied by field trips around the country, through the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as into Israel, where participants meet local activists and learn the wider context of the conflict. Indeed, the theme of the field trips will be “The Many Faces of Resistance,” and the emphasis will be on encountering a wide variety of grassroots-based popular resistance. Evenings are also used for meetings with activists and screening films and at the end of our time together for strategizing and developing effective forms of advocacy for when participants return home.
We still need hands to build, and it is important that we fill our quota of 30 internationals. The rebuilding camp will be held between August 11- 26. Accommodations are basic but a wonderful group spirit makes it all comfortable and functioning. A special part of the camp experience is the traditional home-cooked Palestinian food that will be provided by Arabiya Shawamreh, as she and her husband Salim, along with ICAHD staff, host the participants. For a sense of what the camp is like, visit <http://www.icahd.org/rebuilding-camps>. Don’t miss the 4-minute time-lapse of last year’s rebuilding.
The fee for the 2013 camp is $1750 per person ($1250 for university students), not including airfare. The fee covers the expenses of the camp and purchase of construction materials. If you are unable to join the camp but would like to support our work, please consider providing a scholarship for a young person or making a donation towards the camp.
For additional information, please contact:
For the USA and Canada: Salena Tramel <email@example.com>
For the UK and European countries: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For Norway: Silje Ryvold <email@example.com>
For Finland: Bruno Jantti <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For the rest of the world: <email@example.com>
THE RUSSELL TRIBUNAL ON PALESTINE
The final session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was held in Brussels on the 16th and 17th March 2013, where ICAHD was represented by Prof Colin Green and Sue Ball of ICAHD UK. The Tribunal convened with great sadness. Stephane Hessel, its Honorary President, had passed away a couple of weeks before. Leila Shaid, Palestinian Ambassador to the EU, and Stephane’s widow Christiane, both gave moving tributes and for those of us who had met him over the past few years, his absence was keenly felt.
The Tribunal opened by reviewing the work and conclusions of previous sessions. It had opened in Barcelona in March, 2010, where it focused on the complicity of the European Union and its member states in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel, and the perpetuation of the violations of international law. The Tribunal then moved to London where, in November 2010, it examined corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and in war crimes. The third international session of the RToP took place in Cape Town in November 2011, asking whether Israeli practices on the OPT violate the international covenant on ap
artheid. (Jeff Halper, ICAHD’s Director, testified at that session.) The fourth session took place in New York in October 2012, looking at the complicity of both the UN and the US in Israel’s violations of international law. The jurors including such outstanding public figures as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, John Dugard, Michael Mansfield, Ronnie Karils, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Roger Waters, Dennis Banks and Argentinian pianist Miguel Angel Estrella, who performed at the final session.
Angela Davis gave a resounding final summation with all the strength and urgency you would expect from a seasoned political activist. She talked about the ways forward and urged civil society to ensure their countries complied with their obligations under international law, to engage in public education and to sponsor strategizing and brainstorming meetings. The full findings and all videos of the Brussels session are online at <a href="file:///C:/Documents and Settings/aneta/Moje dokumenty/Downloads/”><www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com>.
ICAHD UK’S ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN LONDON
Just under a hundred people attended ICAHD UK’s annual conference in London on 23 March. The conference was led by Linda Ramsden, Director of ICAHD UK, and included speakers, panel discussions, an interview and time for Q & A with the audience. Recordings of the conference, including contributions from Clare Short and Tony Lerman, are posted on the UK website, www.icahduk.org.
The conference began and ended with screening from ICAHD UK’s new DVD that includes four new films by Lance Larson and Joyce Mishaan that range in length from 2–27 minutes. In the clip from “The Matrix of Control,” Lance goes on a tour of Jerusalem with Jeff Halper as he explains how the Judaization of East Jerusalem has happened. This set the scene for Jeff as he spoke about how ICAHD provides both activism and analysis and he warned of “normalization of resistance” without a solution in sight.
Pictured on a panel are Jeff Halper, Elizabeth Jadon, Colin Green, Nehad Khanfar, Clare Short and Tony Lerman.
While Jeff was in England he participated in a variety of other meetings. The evening before the conference an event was held for members of ICAHD UK in which, following a meal together, there was discussion about further developing ICAHD UK’s reach in all regions of the UK.
After the conference Jeff had meetings in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with other NGOs that lobby the British Parliament on Palestine, and with a number of human rights lawyers. There were also two fund-raising events for ICAHD, with a hundred people attending the one arranged by the newly formed Northampton Al-Bireh Friendship Association.
ICAHD AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN GENEVA
A number of years ago ICAHD was voted ECOSOC observer status at the UN, meaning that it can participate in formal sessions of the Human Rights Council and other bodies in both Geneva and New York, submit position papers and engage in lobbying. In late March Jeff and Linda attended the 22nd session of Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where we presented a written submission regarding Israel’s ongoing policy of house demolitions. Our report called for Israel to dismantle its system of institutionalized discrimination over the Palestinian people and for the Council to reiterate its position that the demolition of Palestinian homes, the expropriation of Palestinian land and the forced displacement that results, in particular in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are not only illegal under international law but are an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by the whole Palestinian population.
While at the UN Jeff participated in a side event sponsored by Badil, the Palestinian Right of Return organization. There Jeff stated that governments and states are not our friends and that they are complicit in the Occupation. He challenged the UN to decide whose side it’s on, that of human rights, international law and the people, or of governments imposing a world order through military might in complete disregard for the rights of either peoples or individuals. Also giving testimony before the Human Rights Council was our good friend, Ata Jaber, from Hebron. ICAHD has stood with the Jaber family for many years because most of their land has been confiscated for the Kiryat Arba settlement, and they continue to suffer daily harassment from the extreme religious settlers who live there. ICAHD has twice rebuilt the Jaber family’s home after demolitions.
Pictured are Vera Gowlland, Professor of Public International Law Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Jeff Halper, Director, ICAHD, Ata Jaber, Hebron, Linda Ramsden, Director, ICAHD UK and Rania Madi, Legal Consultant of BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
ICAHD AT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM IN TUNIS
Under the banner of the Arab revolutions and freedom for Palestine, more than 50,000 people from around the world converged on the El Manar University Campus in Tunis from 26 – 30 March 2013, to participate in the 12th annual World Social Forum. I represented ICAHD in a couple of capacities: as the ICAHD person in Poland (we don’t yet have a critical mass to actually become an ICAHD Poland) and as an ICAHD liaison to young activists everywhere; I am also the Coordinator of the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine (ECCP).
The range of issues deliberated upon was immense, from struggles against dictatorships, colonialism and racism to struggles in favor of indigenous land rights and human rights worldwide. Marches, speeches, panels, discussion groups and caucuses rallied participants against imperial wars and globalization and in support of immigrant rights, women’s rights, gender diversity and on to environmental issues. Some 4,500 organizations co-sponsored a total of 1612 seminars, workshops and other activities, as well as 30 convergence assemblies and a Parliamentarian Forum. Thematic tents and information stands spanned the campus; 1800 journalists reported on the event. Although Palestine was high on the agenda during previous WSF’s, the centrality given to the Palestinian issue during the Tunis WSF was unprecedented, beginning with the Women’s Assembly during the opening ceremony, in which Palestine took central stage.
A large Palestine Tent served as a meeting point for Palestinians, representatives of international Palestine solidarity organizations and other interested participants to the Forum. Aside from a photo exhibition and stands selling Palestinian products, the almost continually (over)crowded tent hosted a number of seminars, meetings among Palestinians and Palestine solidarity activists and informal discussions with the public. The seminar on Palestinian prisoners was particularly packed, including the significant participation of Palestinian representatives.
Palestinian delegates included members of the BNC, PARC, Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS, PNGO, Addameer, Ajial, DCI-Palestine, Stop the Wall, Palestinian Popular Committees, Palestinian Youth-Gaza, Kairos Palestine, Women’s Affairs Center-Gaza, Ittijah, Aswat, and representatives of the PLO. Delegations of independent Palestinian youth attested to the fact that the new generation remains active and committed, while often critical of current policies.
In the same spirit of international solidarity which was present throughout the Forum, Palestine once again took the center stage during the concluding event of the first ever WSF to take place in an Arab country. The final march on 30 March was organized to coincide with Land Day, the annual commemoration of the 1976 killing of six Palestinians while demonstrating against Israeli confiscation of their land.
More than 15,000 people gathered on the emblematic Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the epicenter of the 2011 Tunisian uprising, which sparked the ‘Arab Spring.’ With a giant Palestinian flag leading the way, and hundreds of smaller Palestinian flags distributed among the marchers as they chanted “land, liberty, dignity,” the procession made its way through the center of Tunis to the Palestinian Embassy.
THE APRIL TOUR OF THE US
International advocacy, as this and other ICAHD newsletters clearly demonstrate, remains at the core of our activities. ICAHD staff and activists are “out there,” sharing their analyses and materials with grassroots groups and governments all over the world as well as with those who take our tours and meet with us in Jerusalem. In April, I embarked on a month-long speaking tour in the US – combined with fund-raising, since we are still desperately short of funds. The immediate cause is a decision by a major funder to hold up almost $200,000 of funds owed to us, but beyond that the shrinking pool of funds available to political organizations like ours. As a political solution recedes, donors are channeling their funds into humanitarian projects intended to keep the PA alive and Palestinian institutions functioning (Amira Hass calls it “hush money”). While we struggle, however, we enjoy a strong donor base among the grassroots – you all – which allows us to combine advocacy, up-dating and strategizing with a fund-raising tour.
And so it was in the US. Helped by Hassan Fouda, previously of the ICAHD USA Board, and a lot of California supporters, I began my odyssey with a tour of California stretching from Chico in the north to LA. (The trip actually began in San Francisco, where I gave a paper on Israeli involvement in the world’s arms industry at the International Studies Association conference, another reason for being in California.) I spoke at universities, churches and public lectures, as well as before activist groups, plus at fund-raising events organized by our supporters. ICAHD USA contributed a car and gas – plus Salena Tramel, ICAHD USA’s Director, as driver and compatriot – and together we traveled from San Francisco through Big Sur to Los Angeles, speaking at the Resource Center for Non-Violence in Santa Cruz, the Peace Resource Center in Monterey, a talk at the Santa Barbara Public Library and, in LA, a dinner with about 30 key activists at an Indian restaurant, organized by LA Jews for a Just Peace.
At universities I gave my basic stump PowerPoint presentation, showing the students maps and then walking them through the six demolitions of Salim and Arabiya’s house. For activist groups “in the know” I talked about the one-state solution (in my view, a bi-national state; a piece I just wrote about that is on the ICAHD website) and, ultimately, a multi-cultural Middle Eastern Confederation. But I also gave a new talk to select audiences about Israel’s exporting of the Occupation, what I call Global Palestine. They all represent the crucial niche ICAHD has carved out for itself: grounded analysis based on what is actually happening in the OPT and among Israeli decision-makers, as we try to formulate a way forward beyond the two-state solution.
Following the California trip, I went on to Albuquerque where Mark Rudd (yes, the Mark Rudd of ‘60s fame) and Marla Painter hosted a successful fund-raiser at their home in Albuquerque, followed by another successful fund-raiser in Santa Fe, hosted by Jeff and Mariel Haas. My “handlers” in New Mexico, Lori Rudolph and Kathy Christison, then took me to a spa into the mountains for my first relaxing massage.
Jeff with Women in Black in Berkeley
The trip ended (finally) in New York City where I met with the Executive Committee of ICAHD USA. More on that in the next newsletter.
So…..between survival and flourishing the ICAHD community marches on. Remember the summer camp – either come or sponsor a young person. Comments or suggestions on our newsletter or any other part of our work are, of course, welcomed.