Reports from IFPB Delegations

INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS
Reports from IFPB Delegations On The Ground in Israel/Palestine

Thursday, June 6, 2013
www.ifpb.org/del46

Dheisheh Refugee Camp
By Bobbie Wren Banks 

We Our tour of Bethlehem wandered off the beaten path into the dusty streets of Dheisheh Refugee Camp. The UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) [http://www.unrwa.org/ ] built Dheisheh on one square kilometer of land, a tiny allotment for the thousands of Palestinians from 46 surrounding villages forced to flee in the 1948 war. 

Dheisheh’s narrow streets are a maze of crowded homes piled on top of each other. Privacy is impossible. Graffiti helps tell the story of these people longing to be free but locked in, denied passage even to nearby Jerusalem. Many have never seen the sea. Theirs is a story of poverty and violence within a world of walls.

A group of Dheisheh’s residents, young men and children, guided us through the camp. . .

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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Tent of Nations
by Shelly Altman 

Standing on a crest at Tent of Nations [ http://www.tentofnations.org/ ] farm 7 kilometers southwest of Bethlehem in the early morning, I feel the breeze of the ages. Around the farm, I see plantings of olive, fig, almond, apricot trees, corn and wheat. On a small structure, I see the solar panels which provide all of the electricity for the farm. I see a catch basin for rainwater. The 9 inch border which encloses the catch basin is illegal by Israeli law because it is built without a permit on land in Area C of the West Bank. Area C is wholly within the Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT) but which is subject to Israeli administration and “security”. Other reports from this delegation document the disproportional allocation of water between the Israeli settlements and Palestinian residences.

Across the hills, as the sun rises, I see several Israeli settlements, built illegally according to international law, on Israeli occupied Palestinian land. One settlement has a futuristic home built by a Russian engineer. The settlers have dropped boulders in the road to the farm to block vehicle access to it. Our delegation had to walk in the hot afternoon sun for 20 minutes to reach the farm.

The Nassar family has owned the farm since 1916, when the grandfather of the current generation of owners purchased it. They are not deterred by the boulders . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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Infinite Humanity
By Noura Erakat 

Palestinians are being herded into enclosed enclaves both within Israel Proper and the West Bank. This violence is not a restriction on their freedom of movement – it is tantamount to their captivity. We drove from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, headed eastward towards the Jordan Valley, and then southwest to Bethlehem. All along the way we observed the same phenomenon: Israelis forcing Palestinians into concentrated areas, prohibiting them from expanding horizontally, and surrounding them with Jewish-settlers and cities. To prevent them from leaving these enclaves, Israel uses a matrix of laws, civil, criminal, and military to criminalize their movement.

The Palestinian town of Nahalin is just 50 kilometers outside of Bethlehem, it is in Area C, which constitutes 62% of the West Bank and which remains under full Israeli military and civil control. Nahalin is surrounded by four Jewish-only settlements: Gush Etzion, El-Ezar, Betar Illit, and Neve Daniele. Its location, or more aptly, the endurance of its Palestinian inhabitants with land deeds since 1916 is an ‘inconvenience’ to Israel’s Judaization process . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 
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Roadblock
By Nuala Cabral 

Israeli soldiers put up this roadblock for security reasons, to protect the settlement nearby. Now, the villagers have to take an hour long route to get to the main road. If the villagers move this roadblock they would be arrested. What I’m learning is that the settlements (and infrastructure – i.e. Israeli only roads) totally interrupt Palestinian lives . . . this occupation restricts the mobility of the people . . . making life difficult. So difficult that people are forced to leave . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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This Is Not a Religious Problem
By Ralph Watkins 

Earlier this week we had the privilege of hearing Father Jamal Khader and Nidal Abu Zuluf talk about the Palestine/Israel issue. A number of interesting and challenging things came out as these two indigenous theologians shared the story of the Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth [ http://www.kairospalestine.ps/ ] document, “A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.”

Father Khader was clear, “this is not a religious problem.” What we have is a justice problem. We have a problem with how we read the Old Testament. We have a problem with how we read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. We have a problem that demands a hearing and attention from the church. The church of Jesus Christ can’t sit by and watch human rights being violated on a daily basis. Nidal Abu Zuluf challenged us in the end that all must come and see. He, like I, am convinced that if you come and see then you will be compelled to act . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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W ater  and/is  Life  in  the  Jordan  Valley
By Noura Erakat 

Remember the Jordan Valley? It constitutes 30% of the West Bank and is fully in Area C (62% of the West Bank under Israeli civil and military control according to Oslo). 

As you travel along the expanse of the Valley, a gravel-paved road divides the stretch of land into two. On one side acre upon acre of land . . . is a green ocean of palm trees whose branches dangle with dates that constitute a one-billion dollar settler-colonial industry. On the other side are rolling dunes, parched earth, with cactus and, here and there, a lone resilient palm tree where 400,000 Palestinians used to thrive. 

Since 1967, Israel has controlled the access to the most significant water sources lying under the West Bank – the Northern, Eastern, and Western Aquifers. 60% of the Western Aquifer lies under the West Bank and Israel allocates 80% of it for Jewish use and leaves the rest for Muslim and Christian Palestinians . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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FAIR TRADE OLIVE OIL FROM PALESTINE
PROCEEDS BENEFIT PALESTINIAN FARMERS & IFPB!
www.ifpb.org/education/oliveoil
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VIDEOS: We Shall Overcome (Homestays in Bil’in)
By Ralph Watkins 

Ralph posted these two touching videos from the delegation’s visit to the village of Bil’in [ http://www.bilin-ffj.org/ ]. Bil’in is in the West Bank northwest of Jerusalem. It’s people are well known for creatively resisting Israeli attempts to colonize and annex their ancestral lands. For the past 6 years, Bil’in residents have demonstrated every Friday and have even been successful in forcing Israel to reroute part of the Separation Wall built on their lands. 

The first video [ http://youtu.be/47CMjLS0pl8 ] shows the Wall and features village leaders talking about their resistance and the weapons Israeli soldiers use against them. 

The second video [ http://youtu.be/47CMjLS0pl8 ] is shot the next day during breakfast, after group members spent the night in the homes of families in Bil’in. 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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My new neighborhood
By Kate Taber 

Unlike Atlanta, in Palestine you will never see people sleeping on the streets. That’s not to say there are no homeless people. On the contrary, the mind-boggling rate of evictions and house demolitions has resulted in a high number of families without a home. However, the strength and power of the extended family in this culture is such that all families are taken in. If only this were true in Atlanta. 

Yet in 2008, when I was here serving with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program [ http://eappi.org ], I saw a family living on a street in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem. They had been forcibly evicted from their home by Israeli settlers and police, their possessions thrown out of the house onto the street. Out of protest, they refused to leave and instead slept on the street outside their home, risking harassment and violence from the settlers now living in their house. Israeli leftist and international organizations showed up en masse to support this family and other families under threat of eviction in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. There were demonstrations every Friday that attracted hundreds of people, all urging the courts to recognize these families’ right to stay in their homes. You can imagine my grief upon visiting Sheikh Jarrah five years later, on this delegation, learning that not only that first family, but many families have now been displaced, and the courts have ruled in favor of the settlers consistently . .

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 

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

Some things are simply evil
By Rod Hunter 

We stood in the hot sun, in the empty landscape of southwest Israel, just yards from the military checkpoint that controls Erez [http://electronicintifada.net/tags/erez-checkpoint ], one of the northern entrances to the Gaza Strip. We couldn’t go in – no advanced permission had been sought – so we stood there in the hot sun, chatting with one of a handful of men waiting for a taxi. 

No long lines were waiting to get in or get out. Gaza is sealed off; its inhabitants trapped in what someone this week called an open-air prison. But we knew, from detailed reports, about the horrors inflicted on this people in recent years – the bombing of homes and schools, the horrendous burning of the flesh from white phosphorous munitions (illegal by international treaty), the terrible tales of innocent men, women, and children blown apart and burned to death, others horribly injured, unable to get  m edical  transport which Israeli authorities had denied. We knew also of the desperate health and safety conditions that prevail in Gaza today – filthy water, deficient nutrition, sanitation, and healthcare, cruel and illegal restrictions on fishing, mass unemployment – as a result of the Israeli government’s imposing of this inhumane blockade by sea and land, conditions so bad the World Health Organization has declared that the whole place will be simply unlivable by 2020. This ongoing catastrophe gives meaning to the abstract term “human rights abuses” . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html

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Down and Out in Bil’in and Nazareth (Homage to George Orwell)
By Taylor Weech 

A commune straight out of my hippie heartland surrounded by settlements
and lights where there were never lights for the 100 years of living there
in caves and tents without lights but with family and land. 

Daher Nassar grew up in the cave in the darkness with God and singing hymns
and today “…we have internet in the caves!” and visitors from around the world, 
defending the land with the dogs barking and trees racing bulldozers for the last word. Tent of Nations [ http://www.tentofnations.org/ ], outside Bethlehem. 

A notebook left behind creates a need for international diplomacy . . . 

Click here to read this report in full: www.ifpb.org/del46/report5.html 


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