Fourth Trip Report filed by the Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation

INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS
Reports from IFPB Delegations On The Ground in Israel/Palestine
www.ifpb.org/del46

THE GOOD AND THE BAD 
An Honest Broker? The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Delegation Report 4 
June 3, 2013

The following are excerpts from the fourth Trip Report filed by the Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation currently traveling in Palestine/Israel in partnership with Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta and Joining Hands for Justice in Israel and Palestine.

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html 

Nazareth
By Larry Hendel 

Sally Azam Cook, a Palestinian activist from Nazareth, described the country this way: “Israel is a democracy for Jews and a Jewish state for everyone else.” Her journalist husband, Jonathan Cook [http://www.jonathan-cook.net/ ], added, “there is no such thing as a democracy with an engineered majority. 

And today we learned from Nadia Ben Yusef of Adalah [ http://adalah.org/eng/ ], an organization described as the Israeli NAACP, that the government used tear gas and rubber bullets a few days ago to stop Bedouins from protesting the demolition of their homes in the Negev desert. The Israelis want to evict tens of thousands of Bedouins to make room for highways, industry, military usage, forests and Israeli settlers . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html

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The Good in Nazareth
By Ralph Watkins 

We arrived in Nazareth this morning after spending our morning at Lifta [http://www.palestineremembered.com/Jerusalem/Lifta/ ]. Nazareth is an historic city for my faith tradition. For me Nazareth is second only to the Holy Land of Egypt as one of the most important spots for my faith journey. It is out of Nazareth that Jesus had to flee to be raised and nurtured by the land and people of Egypt/Kemet. It was out of Egypt/Africa that God called God’s child. 

So today, I am in Nazareth and we met more good people doing great things for justice. The ministry of Jesus yet continues in Nazareth. I am speaking specifically of Jonathan and Sally Cook who hosted us for lunch. They are both trying to bring peace to this land with justice . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html

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VIDEO: The Good in Nazareth
By Ralph Watkins 

Ralph posted this video [ http://youtu.be/5MWuEtso1Kg ] of the delegation’s visit to Nazareth and reflections from some of the group members. 

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Palestinians in the Israeli Imagination
By Noura Erakat 

It is striking how little Israelis know about Palestinians. Not just what they endure but who they are at all. There is not a single sign that signifies the historic presence, agricultural production, commercial trade, or cultural influence of Palestinians. A manufactured erasure that makes otherwise ridiculous national mythologies compelling.

Lifta [ http://www.palestineremembered.com/Jerusalem/Lifta/ ], for example, was home to 2,500 wealthy Palestinians who had two schools and a city center comprised of three spring wells. All of its residents fled by December 1947. We walked through its standing remains, which Israel has declared a nature reserve. Enduring limestone homes sprinkle the landscape. In one home, elaborate marble tile still lines an edge of the floor. High dome shaped ceilings still provide a cool reprieve from the searing sun. Stairs, doorways, hallways, window frames seem to ricochet with the sounds of playful children’s feet (click here to view the delegation’s photos, including photos from Lifta [http://www.ifpb.org/del46/photos.html ]) . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html

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Tweets from the Delegation

Delegates have shared their observations throughout the trip on Interfaith Peace-Builders’ twitter stream. Below is a sampling of recent tweets. 

For more, follow @IFPBdelegations: 
http://twitter.com/IFPBdelegations

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Ten Days in a 3-D Colonial Theory Textbook 
By Clarissa O’Conor 

These are olive trees belonging to Palestinians that Israel has destroyed to make way for an illegal Israeli settlement – a colony – in Area C of the occupied West Bank. “This is Orwellian.” Other words to describe this have been “being on another planet.”

To me, this is like spending ten days in a 3-D colonial theory textbook. I have felt this since Jerusalem, since Nazareth, since the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Lifta [http://www.palestineremembered.com/Jerusalem/Lifta/ ], minutes outside of Jerusalem, surrounded by illegal Israeli colonies – now a park where Israelis come to swim and smoke pot . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html

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Beauty, Tension, & Prayer
By Nabil Idrisi 

I attended Jumm’ah (Friday) prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday. As I entered the Haram as-Sharif compound alongside Palestinian men and women, the Israeli soldier stationed at the gate greeted me, “Assalamu alaikum.” I reflexively responded, “Wa alaikum salaam.” 

Although ostensibly an ordinary greeting, the Israeli soldier used this phrase to test to see if I was actually Muslim. I wonder why this holy space for many peoples of faith has to be militarized, and felt uncomfortable with an armed Israeli soldier testing my Muslim religion. The beauty of the stained glass windows and painted ceilings within Al-Aqsa contrasted severely to that exchange, which epitomized the Israeli Occupation for me . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html

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BUY FAIR TRADE OLIVE OIL FROM PALESTINE
PROCEEDS BENEFIT PALESTINIAN FARMERS & IFPB!
www.ifpb.org/education/oliveoil
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Learning the Lessons of the Holocaust
By Larry Hendel 

The end of last week was a whirlwind. We started at Yad Vashem [http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/museum/overview.asp ] , the Holocaust Museum in Israel. It is as powerful and strong as the one in Washington DC, probably more so. But I couldn’t help gasping at the entrance plaque which reads, “Sheldon Adelson [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Adelson], Patron to the Mount of Remembrance.”  Remember Sheldon from the Romney campaign? He likes to spend chunks of his fortune on Zionist projects in Israel as well as on Republican politicians. 

At the exit of the museum, one walks out on to a balcony with a beautiful view of the valley below. You can almost hear violins play an accompaniment to the thought that has been planted in your head that, “the Europeans slaughtered us, the Americans turned us away, but now we have a land of our own in Israel, etc., etc., etc….” But when you look closely at the valley below our tour leaders pointed out that you can see the outlines of rock wall remnants of a Palestinian village . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html 

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VIDEO: Don’t Forget to Remember
By Ralph Watkins 

Ralph posted this video featuring Women in Black and Rifqa Al-Kurd in Sheik Jarrah:http://youtu.be/4V4thcyhtMs

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“Gandalf the Black?”
By Leslie Leonard 

We stood on the corner of a busy West Jerusalem intersection, holding black placards shaped like hands: “Stop the Occupation” in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. Besides the fifteen or so from our group, there were a handful of the regular demonstrators – Women In Black [http://www.coalitionofwomen.org/?tag=women-in-black&lang=en ]. They have been coming to this corner with these placards and banners every Friday for the past 25 years. 

Across the street, on another corner, was a solitary woman enthusiastically waving the Israeli flag and holding a sign that read, in Hebrew, “They people of Israel will live in the land of Israel forever.” She intermittently shouted things I couldn’t understand. When I wasn’t talking to other protestors or taking pictures, I was struck by the reactions of the many passers-by. Pedestrians took quick pictures; an American college student stopped to ask us about our presence there; cars drove past, honking loudly – in support or defiance of which group was often unclear.  Other times, the message was inescapably clear. . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html 

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The View from the Bus
By Clarissa O’Conor 

There are probably few other conflicts in which buses play such a powerful role – rhetorically, viscerally and practically. The bus suicide bombings of the second Intifada loom in Israeli collective memory and are part of the justification for the increasingly elaborate and brutal land annexation and ethnic cleansing operation that is masquerading as the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Buses were and remain important methods of transportation for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Yet during these past days in Israel/Palestine, the meaning of buses in this conflict has taken on new meaning for me in a few unexpected ways. This became apparent to me soon after we exited Ben Gurion airport on the first day of our trip. 

We boarded our bus, soon to be labeled tongue-in-cheek as the “Truth Bus, Destination: Justice” beside about 4 or 5 other large tour buses boarding groups of college and high school age American Jewish students, on their first trip to Israel through Birthright Israel. [http://www.birthrightisrael.com/Pages/Default.aspx ] 

This is a free trip that any American Jewish young person can take to their “homeland” – Israel. The Birthright experience that many of my peers and even close friends have undertaken is never far from my mind so far on this delegation . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: http://www.ifpb.org/del46/report4.html 


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