ICAHD is and strives to be an actor in the political process of ending Israeli violations of international law. When ICAHD was first established in 1997, we spoke of ending the Occupation. However, over time it became clear that this was not a conflict; there were never two equal parties. Now we refer to ending Israel’s apartheid policies and the settler colonial goal that the state of Israel has over the Palestinian people. ICAHD has always called for there to be a just resolution to this issue. For a few years we referred to a two-state solution however with each year that passed, and with growing understanding of Israel’s Matrix of Control over the Palestinian people we could see that the only just way forward is for there to be a one democratic state over all of historic Palestine. With mobilization now happening amongst Palestinians who are calling for one state, we as critical Jews are able to stand with them as together, we go forward.
To begin with, ICAHD was registered as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in 1997 but our charitable status was lost in 2016 and since then we have worked as a grassroots organisation. When ICAHD formed, our focus for mobilization was Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Over the years we learned that these demolitions and the resulting displacement were about the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population from their homeland – thus our issue is at the very core of Israel’s settler colonial policy.
ICAHD brought the issue of home demolitions before the world and we were the first organisation to rebuild homes as an act of political resistance and to demonstrate that there are Palestinians and Israelis who refuse to be enemies. However ICAHD’s history has been not merely as an activist group (although the activism we did was important and gave us credibility, as well as a keen sense of what is happening “on the ground”); we were never merely a protest group (although we participated in strategic interventions such as the convoy of aid to Gaza and in breaking the siege on Gaza, both in 2008); and we were never a humanitarian organization (although we occasionally engaged in limited humanitarian activity, such as providing legal aid to Palestinians threatened with demolition). We have always been a political organization engaged in both resistance (which is how we framed our rebuilding activities, and which allowed us to cooperate with Palestinians) and in advocacy. We do engage in educational work, which is how all our advocacy can be framed, especially in light of the legal and political sensitivities in the US, as we aspire and endeavour to influence policy regarding the conflict.
Over the years we have all made ICAHD a respected voice for policy change, with clear positions and effective informational materials and presentations, both abroad and in Israeli itself. Our position is that any solution must incorporate several fundamental principles: National expression for both peoples (who are not merely ethnic groups); universal economic viability; conformity with human rights, international law and UN resolutions; a genuine resolution of the refugee issue; and a regional approach, including addressing the security concerns of Israel, the Palestinians and all the states of the region. Therefore, we enthusiastically endorse the programme identified by the One Democratic State Campaign. We also support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Because we believe that a just peace will come to the Middle East only when our civil societies – Israeli, Palestinian and international – join forces to influence public opinion and government policy, ICAHD has established a network of support groups that further our advocacy abroad and help raise the funds necessary for effective activities. Each ICAHD group abroad (UK, US, Finland, and Germany) is an independent organization that:
- Represents ICAHD in the country of operation (in conferences, planning for speaking tours or other events, in coordinating activities in which ICAHD-Israel is expected to participate, etc.);
- Supports the political and activist agenda of ICAHD through informational campaigns, the hosting of awareness-raising gatherings, tours, fund-raising, and solidarity actions; and
- Initiates such actions as lobbying, work with the press, public meetings, briefings, and other forms of advocacy appropriate to the particular country and setting.