REMINDER – SIGN UP FOR ICAHD’S 2014 REBUILDING CAMP
3 – 18 August 2014, near Jerusalem. Join with Palestinians and Israelis who refuse to be enemies in a powerful act of non-violent resistance: rebuilding a demolished Palestinian home. Participate in an extensive travel and educational program on the conflict and meet local activists. Strengthen your involvement in the global justice movement.
Every year some 30 international volunteers join local Palestinians and Israeli activists to rebuild from the ruins a Palestinian home and, after two weeks, hand the key to family and help them move their furniture in. A truly moving – and political – moment. Over the past years ICAHD has rebuilt 187 Palestinian homes demolished by the Israeli authorities as political acts of resistance, of sumud or steadfastness.
This August will mark ICAHD’s 12th annual rebuilding camp. Together with the physical construction, participants are taken on field trips throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and into Israel as well. Evenings are spent with local activists, viewing films on the political situation and strategizing. By the end you will be prepared to return home and effectively advocate for a just peace.
The fee for the 2014 camp is $1700 (£1130 or €1260) per person, which includes basic accommodation at the work site, three full meals a day plus snacks, all field trips and educational programs, and study materials. Not included are airfare and personal expenses separate from camp activities.
For details about the camp and application forms, please contact:
For the USA and Canada: Mary Winter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For the UK/Europe: Fay van Dunk <email@example.com>
For Norway: Silje Ryvold <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For Finland: Bruno Jantti <email@example.com>
For Germany: Doris Flack <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For Australia: Scott Webster <Scwebster.email@example.com>
For the rest of the world: Ruth Edmonds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CONDOLENCES TO THE SHAWAMREH FAMILY
ON THE IDF’S KILLING OF YUSUF
ICAHD sends condolences to its field worker Salim Sharamreh and his family over the killing on March 19th of his nephew Yusuf Abu-Akar Shawamreh, aged 15, by the IDF.
Like many rural Palestinian teens who are neither study nor work in regular settings, Yusuf was out with a group of friends picking gundelia, a spiny, thistle-like flowering plant used in cooking and for medicinal purposes, which sprouts in February and March and could be sold on the market. The IDF claimed that Yusuf and his friends were trying to sabotage the separation barrier, though no cutting tools were found on the site. He was shot four times in the back. Two of his friends, one a boy of 12, were arrested, together with an elderly man out picking almonds.
The IDF brought Yusuf to a hospital in Beer Sheva, where he died of his wounds. He was buried in his hometown of Deir Al-Asal in the South Hebron Hills. Needless to say, no Israeli soldier was or ever will be convicted of the killing. Just three weeks earlier, on February 27, Amnesty International issued a report on IDF violence towards Palestinians: Trigger Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank. It documents the killing of 45 Palestinians and wounding of thousands “who did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life” over the past three years. It concludes that the IDF shows a “callous disregard for human life,” and calls on the international community to cease shipments of weapons and cooperation until Israel complies with international law.
As it stands, Palestinians are fair game. The week before Yusuf’s murder the IDF killed six Palestinians in one 24-hour period. ICAHD extends its condolences to Yusuf’s family and to Salim, and calls for an international inquiry into unrestrained IDF and settler violence against Palestinians who, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, enjoy the status of Protected Persons.
As part of the reorganization of ICAHD USA, ICAHD Director Jeff Halper and Linda Ramsden, head of ICAHD UK and the coordinator of our international chapters, flew to New York City to join the new Board to help plan their future activities. Mary Winter, who participated in last summer’s work camp, directs the group; Ken Boas, a long-time activist from Pittsburgh, was elected chair. Other members in the still-consolidating Board include Lori Rudolph of Albuquerque, Dick Platkin in LA and Glenn Riss in NYC.
Among ICAHD USA’s roles will be inserting a critical Israeli voice into discussions around the conflict, working with partner organizations in the US and, of course, helping with fund-raising. If you’re interested in becoming involved, contact Mary Winter <email@example.com>.
ICAHD IN GENEVA
As part of our international advocacy, ICAHD, which has observer status in the UN, participates in UN activities. In late March Linda represented ICAHD at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, presented the following oral statement:
ISRAEL’S POLICY OF DEMOLISHING PALESTINIAN HOMES MUST END
Since 1967 Israel has demolished nearly 29,000 Palestinian homes, businesses, livestock facilities and other structures vital to Palestinian life and livelihood in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In 2013, a total of 663 Palestinian structures were demolished by the Israeli authorities, displacing 1103 Palestinians (545 children). During the first two months of 2014, 132 structures have been demolished with 181 people displaced, with those in the Jordan Valley, the periphery of Jerusalem and the South Hebron Hills being most vulnerable. Palestinians are forcibly displaced following home demolitions but also because of demolitions of animal shelters, water cisterns and other structures related to their livelihood or because of the destruction of infrastructure, including roads. Several hundred Palestinians have been displaced as a result of evictions, settler violence and military training.
The motivation for demolishing these homes is purely political, and racially informed: to either drive the Palestinians out of the country altogether (the “quiet transfer”) or to confine the four million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to small, crowded, impoverished and disconnected enclaves. Taken against the background of Israel’s systematic destruction of more than 530 Palestinian villages, towns and urban neighborhoods in 1948 and after, the legal steps taken to alienate the Palestinians from its lands, homes and properties subsequent to the 1948 war and its ongoing policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel residing in so-called “unrecognized villages and neighborhoods,” the picture that emerges is one of institutional racial discrimination and ethnic displacement.
ICAHD calls on the Council in its concluding observations to forcefully insist on the application of International Human Rights Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The HRC meeting marked as well the last presentation of Richard Falk, for the past six years the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967. Since assuming that role, Prof. Falk, an outstanding expert on international law who taught for many years at Princeton but who has always been involved, personally and professionally, in the leading political issues of the day, has worked closely with ICAHD. We have met him several times in Jordan as he was preparing his annual reports to the HRC (although an official UN representative, he has been barred from Israel in his capacity as Special Rapporteur), and have shared many platforms with him abroad. No greater testimony to his intellectual depth, moral principles, critical position on Israel’s Occupation effectiveness can be found than that of Samantha Power, Obama’s UN Representa
tive, who issued a statement saying: “The United States welcomes Mr. Falk’s departure, which is long overdue.”
In a special side event organized in his honor, Linda conveyed ICAHD’s appreciation for his services and support.
ICAHD also signed a petition together with 64 other international NGOs calling upon the President of the HRC to ensure that international law the central component in deciding on the position for the SR on the situation in the OPT be international legal expertise as applicable to the field of the mandate.
ICAHD UK ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & CONFERENCE
On April 5th ICAHD UK held its Annual General Meeting and Conference celebrating 10 years of activity. In the days leading up to the AGM, Linda and Jeff conducted a number of high-level meetings with public officials and activists alike, including:
– Senior officials of the Middle East Department at the Foreign Ministry;
– MP Richard Burden, head of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Palestine;
– Justin Butcher and Deb Burton, producers of the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival over Christmas, on future plans to travel the replicate of the Wall and its associated cultural and political events other parts of the world;
– an interview with Middle East Eye, which produced the following interview <http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/jeff-halper-israeli-challenging-occupation-within>
– a meeting with Canon David Porter, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, at Lambeth Palace
– a meeting with War on Want Director John Hilary and
– Abe Hayeem from Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, following their success in passing a motion condemning the Union of Israeli Architects
The meetings were intended to maintain our close working relationship with our various partners, to update them on events and our views regarding the political situation in the Middle East and to plan future joint activities. Jeff also spoke at the launch of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, where 60 clinicians have joined in an effort to promote the psychological well-being of Palestinians living under violent occupation (see picture below).
But the real highlight of the week was, of course, the 10th anniversary celebrations of ICAHD UK. On the evening before the AGM a dinner was held for members with Jeff and five of our patrons: Prof Colin Green, Bishop Michael Langrish, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Prof Avi Shlaim and Rev Dr Stephen Sizer.
The next day, after the business of the Annual General Meeting, the conference began with a visual presentation of the past decade of ICAHD UK’s work. Jeff and Ilan Pappe, an ICAHD UK patron, then presented their up to date analysis on the situation on the ground. During the afternoon Linda interviewed John McCarthy, a British journalist who had been held hostage for five years in Lebanon, on his newest book You Can’t Hide the Sun: A Journey Through Israel and Palestine. Jeff, Ilan and John then answered questions posed by the participants, their comments moderated by Colin Green.
The last part of the conference was devoted to the mobilization of civil society. It began with the first viewing of the Bethlehem Unwrapped documentary of the festival, after which the participants broke into five focus groups: summer camp participation; study tour participation; parliamentary lobbying; using Arabiya’s story to reach new audiences; and the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network. The conference closed with political songs led by Justin Butcher.
For Ben White’s report on the conference, see here
JEFF IN ITALY
Following the AGM, Jeff participated in a conference at the University of Torino entitled: PALESTINIAN TALES: TRAVELING FROM THE WEST, TRAVELING WITHIN
ICAHD IN JERUSALEM
ICAHD’s activity also continues in Jerusalem. Jeff continues as Director and Salim as Field Coordinator, but Hibat has left us for full-time teaching. After almost a decade of work with us, we miss her and wish her well (we’re trying to coax her on to the new Board). Ruth Edmonds has assumed the role of Coordinator, with Micha Kurz elected Chair of the new Board, which is built around a nucleus of young activists, many of whom “grew up” in the ICAHD office. Among the new Board members are Ofer Nieman, Sahar Vardi and Brian Callan, although we intend to operate it more as a collective, so that Board meetings will in fact be open to a wider circleof activists.
While most of ICAHD’s work is done abroad, our international advocacy is expressed in Israel/Palestine in different ways. One is in our activities on the ground, often with other activist groups. This includes appeals to the Israeli courts in certain cases. ICAHD, for example, is party to an appeal to Israel’s High Court regarding both the enforcement of an agreement in the Oslo process than the PA have control over planning in Area C, which would eliminate Israel’s demolition policy, and against its attacks on Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills.
Our tours for diplomats, journalists and others from abroad constitute yet another facet of our “international” advocacy. Over the past couple months, for example, we have taken the Mayor of Montreal on a tour of Jerusalem, as well as the President and members of the Board of Ben and Jerry’s. Requests for tours are on the up with groups from all over the world requesting lectures, tours and meetings with our highly training and well respected guides and staff.
We receive many requests from people interested in interning with ICAHD. We just recently said goodbye to our latest lovely intern, Michel Garcia, who helped us no end with research and information for our website. Thanks Michel! Should you be interested in interning with us please contact Ruth Edmonds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several articles by ICAHD activists appeared in the past month or so.
ICAHD Finland Director Bruno Jantii published “Middle East: Russian roulette or co,flict resolution?”with Ilan Pappe
And finally, another reminder about our extended study tours in the fall:
ICAHD’s alternative tours program, led by Linda Ramsden, consists of in-depth study tours that go beyond the traditional tourist sites of Israel/Palestine to explore the political realities that affect both Palestinians and Israelis. Participants witness the situation on both sides of the divide and travel to different geographical areas. Unique opportunities are provided to meet ICAHD staff and other key leaders to gain first-hand, in-depth knowledge and some of the latest analysis. Participants also meet extensively with Palestinians to hear their stories.
The next eleven-day study tour will take place in November, 2014. For more information, contact <email@example.com>.
More next month,
The ICAHD Family