ICAHD Jerusalem and Jeff Changes Role in ICAHD
With the end of 2015 we express our deep appreciation to all the ICAHD supporters who have helped sustain us during the incredible challenges that we as an Israeli political left-wing peace group continue to face in our resistance to our government’s policies towards the Palestinians. Thousands of people from all over the world follow us on Facebook and receive our newsletters. Again this year hundreds of internationals met with us in Jerusalem and tens of cities hosted ICAHD staff on our speaking tours abroad. We celebrate the fact that this year another two homes were rebuilt for Palestinian families and once again we thank the internationals who joined us for this powerful political act of non-violent resistance.
Jeff Halper has headed ICAHD for most of the 18 years since he helped found the organization together with other Israeli activists from a variety of peace groups. Over that time he has endeavored to end the Occupation, promote the rights of Palestinians and formulate how a just peace would look, be it through articles and books (Obstacles to Peace, An Israeli in Palestine, War Against the People), films (Occupation 101, The Iron Wall, Apartheid Israel and others), conferences and extensive speaking tours throughout the world – as well resistance on the ground (helping in both the funding and building of 189 Palestinian homes, participating in the Free Gaza flotilla that broke the siege of Gaza in 2008, and many other acts of civil disobedience).
ICAHD has been and will remain a primary vehicle for his and others’ effective resistance and peace-building. Jeff has decided, however, to step down as Director so as to let a new generation take the helm and enable the ICAHD chapters abroad to pursue their collective and individual agendas. In a sense ICAHD is evolving from an Israeli-based organization to a more global one acting as a collective of strong organizational branches.
Jeff has accepted the role of Co-Founder and will continue to provide leadership and analysis for the “global ICAHD,” while representing the organizations in speaking tours abroad. He will shift the focus of his efforts, however, to The People Yes! Network (TPYN), an organization he helped found that is dedicated to fostering more effective campaigning among grassroots groups the world over. We wish Jeff the best in his new endeavor.
Ruth Edmonds, who for the past four years has been ICAHD’s tour coordinator and administrator, will take over as Acting Director. Ruth plans to strengthen ICAHD’s grassroots resistance to Occupation, complementing Jeff’s international focus, and will continue to lead the tour program. She will also work with the chapters on the Judaization campaign and will help guide ICAHD’s future development.
Our last newsletter brought you information about the success of our latest annual rebuilding camp. Over a two week period in July 2016 we will rebuild another Palestinian home demolished by the Israeli forces. It will again bring together internationals, Palestinians, and Israelis for our rebuilding and an educational programme that involves talks and field trips for the international camp participants. We will be launching a fund-raising campaign for it and camp details will be available soon but if you would like to register your interest now please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past year ICAHD has taken groups from all over the world on 80 tours of the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem and the Old City. The responses we have had are overwhelming. Our tours continue to provide analysis and presentation of the occupation to new and returning individuals: journalists, activists, researchers, high-school students, university students, researchers, photographers, documentary film-makers, political representatives and diplomats. The aim of our tours is to provide a comprehensive and detailed presentation of the situation on the ground while keeping our information up-to-date and relevant to the ever changing political situation.
Here is just some of the feedback we have received over the past year:
“Thank you for the great tour this afternoon. What a first impression of Jerusalem and sharing ICAHD thoughts about the daily life in conflict zones. We have a lot the think and discuss about. Chaska was a awesome guide!” – Anne-Maayke
“Thanks for the tour with the big group of students from Sweden some weeks ago. It was one of the highlights that week!” – Lars
“Thank you very much again for the tour. It was really amazing and thanks as well for the links.” – Steffi
“Thanks for the detailed tour we had on Tuesday. It was a great opportunity to know in deep the situation in East Jerusalem.” – Lorena
“The tour was excellent! Really informative and interesting. Thank you very much.” – Aiyana
“The tour was very informative. Sharon had a lot of information and she was very committed.” – Marlies
“Thanks for the great tour. Seeing And hearing first hand from you in the struggle here is crucial for someone like me trying to be an ally.” – Ken
“Thank you for the tour. It was very interesting and Sharon was a brilliant guide.” – Lukas
“…I went on a great tour of East Jerusalem with Chaska which was the most educational day of my time in Palestine (with ISM)…” – Jamie
Ruth Edmonds with the Labour to Palestine tour in the Old City
Chaska Katz with a Study Tour in the Jordan Valley
About a week after the study tour visited Burhan in Khirbat Makhulhis place was raided, and the neighboring compound of Al-Hadidiye was demolished. There is an injunction on the demolition order so the soldiers entered the tent, did not demolish it, and instead they destroyed everything that was inside – threw all the food, trampled all over the place, and smashed things up. They said Burhan’s sheep shelter built without permission, but did not destroy it as there was no warrent to. They cursed and screamed at the family and told Burhan that if he was not there they would have abused his wife and young girl.
To reserve a tour, please contact: email@example.com
Judaizing Palestine: A Campaign Against Home Demolitions in a Single State
The essence of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is displacement. For the past century Zionism has worked diligently and systematically to turn Palestine into the Land of Israel. On the way it has aspired to appropriate all the country’s land and resources and, ultimately, to drive the remaining Palestinians out, or at least to confine them to tiny enclaves. This project, officially called “judaization,” is today entering its final phase, and nothing demonstrates it more graphically than Israel’s policy of house demolitions.
Since 1967 discussion around Israel and Palestine has always differentiated between the territory considered “Israeli,” the 78% of historic Palestine that lies within the 1967 borders, and the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the 22% of Palestine comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. This reflected, course, the idea that one day, somehow, a Palestinian state would arise alongside Israel: the “two-state solution.”
Today it is obvious that the two-state solution is gone. So much Palestinian land has been lost, so fragmented has the Palestinian territory become, that no coherent and contiguous territory exists anymore upon which a Palestinian state could be established. East Jerusalem, where the Palestinian capital would have been, is gone, its urban space reduced to tiny Palestinian enclaves amidst massive settlements, the entire Palestinian sector annexed to Israel decades before.
What this means is that today only one state exists between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River – Israel. Only one government effectively rules the entire country: Israel’s. Only one army controls it: the IDF. There is but one official currency (the Israeli shekel), one water and electrical system, one highway system, etc. etc. The day when we begin advocating a one-state solution is not far off. To prepare the public for that transition, we should begin speaking of Palestine/Israel as one entity. And we should demand equal rights for all inhabitants of that country.
ICAHD’s “Judaizing Palestine” Campaign makes the point that….Read More About The Campaign Here
“Borrowed Freedom Is Not Freedom”
In recent weeks Israel’s High Court of Justice approved the punitive home demolition of five family homes of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis. Under most circumstances when a Palestinian attacks an Israelis civilian or solider, he is neutralized, which means killed or injured and arrested. Therefore punitive home demolitions punish family members and neighbors. The humanitarian implications of the policy revived in 2014 after Israel’s near abandonment of the policy in 2005 are well documented and discussed. Since 1 June 2014, the Israeli authorities have demolished,or sealed 16 structures, displacing 90 Palestinians, including 51 children, according to UN figures. In addition, at least 12 adjacent apartments were damaged, temporarily displacing at least 55 people.1 At least 14 of these have taken place this October and November, pundits suggest as a result of government needing to demonstrate a show of force in response to the most recent wave of conflict.2
This form of collective punishment is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Recent headlines reported High Court freezes on demolition orders, followed by petitions, angry politicians, state appeals, but all generally leading to the same end: homes destroyed. This reinstatement of Israel’s practice again raises critiques and questions regarding the policy. The HCJ is not interested; it heard them last year
Regulations sanctioning punitive home demolitions were first enacted in the British Defense Emergency Regulations of 1945.3 These were a set of regulations imposed by the British Mandate in response to the Arab Revolt and the rising violence between Arabs and Jews. The British later used these regulations in attempts to curb Jewish immigration to control militant Jewish organizations The regulations gave power to military courts, sanctioning curfews, closures, arrests without detention and censorship of publications. Local communities opposed the measures; the Jewish population protested them. According to the British government the regulations were repealed, however because this was not published in the Palestinian Gazette, the repeal was never official, and Israel adopted them as part of the status quo in 1948.4
The regulations were used in military rule over Palestinian populations in Israel from 1950-1966, and are still the legal basis for military occupation and activity in the Palestinian Territories from 1967 until today. In 1951, the Knesset drafted a bill for their repeal, which did not pass.5 In a debate related to the bill, Menahem Begin pursued repealing the emergency regulations calling them “tyrannical and facististic laws. “The existence of such regulations raises questions regarding the fundamental rights of every Israeli citizen. Borrowed freedom is not freedom. It has been said…..read more here
Revenge Devoid Of Purpose: Punitive Demolitions Of Palestinian Homes
“Punitive” demolitions, which have become a trademark of Israel’s latest round of repression against the Palestinians of the Occupied Territory, are not only a pointless lashing out against defenseless families, but are downright counterproductive, even by Israel’s own standards. Since 1967 the Israeli authorities have demolished some 46,000 Palestinian homes in the OPT, either as “collateral damage” in military incursions (18,000 were destroyed in Gaza during the 2014 attack) or because, since 1967, Israel has refused to grant building permits to Palestinians, who are then forced to build “illegally” and face demolition. In virtually none of these cases was “security” the reason for demolition, as testified by the fact that none of the owners were ever arrested.
A third category of demolition is “punitive,” the idea being that Palestinians hold their homes sacred, so if a terrorist knew his or her family’s home would be destroyed if he or she committed an attack, it would act as an effective deterrent. In fact…read more here
HEBREW Video From Israel Social TV on Punitive Home Demolitions and an Interview with Jeff Halper – from 2014
ENGLISH Video from Israel Social TV asking Israelis in Tel Aviv what they think about demolishing the homes of Jewish terrorists – from 2014
Jeff Tours and Book Launch
The past few months have been busy ones for ICAHD’s international advocacy. Jeff’s book, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification was published by Pluto Press in the UK and the University of Chicago in the US, and was well received. The book looks at how Israel is “globalizing” Palestine, how it exports not only the weaponry, security systems, tactics and means of control developed over a half-century of occupation but also the ideology of counter-terrorism. It is this later that pulls countries into supporting Israel internationally, as if the governments of the world were Israel and those resisting the ravages of neoliberal capitalism the terrorists.
In the wake of book’s publication Jeff has embarked on a series of speaking tours abroad that weave together several threads of ICAHD’s work: Where are we in the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (putting the finishing touches on apartheid and mopping up Palestinian resistance); Where are we headed? (with the end of the two-state solution Jeff is raising the option of a single bi-national, democratic state); and How does Israel get away with it? (which segues into Israel’s exporting of the Occupation).
From September-December Jeff toured the UK and participated in a debate on the one-state/two-state solution with the Palestinian intellectual and journalist Mouin Rabbani in Amsterdam before traveling on to Warsaw, Paris (where he appeared before the French Senate), Lyon, Florence, Stockholm, Brussels and Ghent. The New Year will see him speaking again in the UK with ICAHD UK, Ireland, Slovenia and the US. Seeing himself as a resource person for the activist community, he spends 3 or 4 days in each city, during which time he meets a wide range of audiences. Besides public lectures, he holds informal meetings with activists, decision-makers and journalists; speaks at universities, churches and trade unions, and meets if possible with the local Jewish community.
Jeff Halper speaking at Liverpool University during his UK speaking tour
Another ICAHD extended study tour completed
This study tour, composed largely of close encounters with Israelis and Palestinians, penetrates the surface of Israel/Palestine, revealing realities ignored by the mainstream media. Participating in it has been one of the most valuable experiences of my 71 years,” so said J Garrett, participant of our recent extended study tour.
Although the tour looked at a range of topics from refugees, education under occupation, trauma, rehabilitation, business and more, the major focus was about the “matrix of control” that Israel has implemented over the indigenous population and its judaization of historic Palestine. There was also discussion about the elements that are essential to help establish a just and sustainable solution for all people groups.
Visits were made to communities threatened with demolitions and displacement including Um Al-Hiran in the Negev, Dahmash near Lod and Al-Makhul in the Jordan Valley. The group was given a warm welcome when they stopped at the Fhadad home that was rebuilt during ICAHD’s annual rebuilding camp earlier this year.
Three study tours are planned for 2016 which will again visit both sides of the divide. March: specialist eleven-day tour for mental health care professionals. July: eight-day study tour. November: eleven-day study tour. Please register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking Ahead to 2016
During the last year we have seen the rise in violence due to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and its ongoing brutal Occupation. Racist and undemocratic bills continue to be put forward in the Knesset and Israelis, who speak out challenging our government policy, are demonised. However we know that global awareness is growing and people are coming to understand that Palestine is at the heart of what is happening right across the Middle East.
We have worked incredibly hard to sustain ICAHD’s political agenda and to keep it functioning as an effective political organisation despite the tremendous financial shortfalls that are affecting all Israeli and Palestinian political groups as donors move their funds to humanitarian projects run by NGOs.
In addition to our ongoing tours, rebuilding, and other campaigns, we are pleased to announce that our new website with all the added information will launch during January. There you will be able to find a wealth of resources on the Occupation, the Matrix of Control, Jeff Halper’s analysis, updates from Palestinian and Israeli activists on the ground, and resources that can be downloaded and printed for use in your local campaigns.
ICAHD will continue to live up to our motto to “resist the Occupation and construct peace” as we work for a just and sustainable solution for all. We invite you to remain with us in this struggle.