Report Back from Gaza with Michael Brown, SUN Feb 24th

Report Back from Gaza

with Michael Brown of Interfaith Peacebuilders

SUN Feb 24th, 6PM

USC, Gambrell 152

Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. He then was Washington correspondent for Middle East International and a fellow at the Washington, DC-based Palestine Center.  Michael co-led with Cindy Corrie a November 2012 IFPB delegation to the Gaza Strip.  His op-eds, letters, and views have been published in the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the San Diego Union-Tribune,the News & Observer.

RSVP/Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/231845020286346/

MEDIA ADVOCACY WORKSHOP @ 4:30PM Free with Registration: Email info AT carolinapeace.org

Sponsored by Carolina Peace Resource Center, Students for Justice in Palestine-USC and USC Amnesty International.

Report Back from Gaza

with Michael Brown of Interfaith Peacebuilders

SUN Feb 24th, 6PM

USC, Gambrell 152

Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. He then was Washington correspondent for Middle East International and a fellow at the Washington, DC-based Palestine Center.  Michael co-led with Cindy Corrie a November 2012 IFPB delegation to the Gaza Strip.  His op-eds, letters, and views have been published in the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the San Diego Union-Tribune,the News & Observer.

RSVP/Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/231845020286346/

MEDIA ADVOCACY WORKSHOP @ 4:30PM Free with Registration: Email info AT carolinapeace.org

Sponsored by Carolina Peace Resource Center, Students for Justice in Palestine-USC and USC Amnesty International.

 

 

 

SC to DC: Mideast Peace Weekend, March 5-7th

DC Mideast Peace Weekend

SAT March 5th-MON March 7th

Washington DC

Campus Organizing Conference for Students and Youth

SAT March 5th

http://afsc.org/event/organize-just-peace

Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, held in conjunction with…

3rd Annual Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobbying Days

SUN March 6th –MON March 7th

Sponsored by the Interfaith Peacebuilders and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Featuring trainings, workshops, and speakers. Monday lobbying day on Capitol Hill.   www.ifpb.org/education/grassroots

The Carolina Peace Resource Center is organizing a group from South Carolina to travel to Washington DC to attend this weekend of trainings and lobbying on Monday. A limited amount of financial assistance in the form of scholarships is available. Please contact us ASAP if you:

  • Would like to attend.

  • Can donate towards a scholarship for someone to attend.

  • Cannot attend, but would like help by lobbying locally.

CONTACT David (803) 215-3263 or email mideastpeace.cprc@gmail.com

To Exist Is To Resist

Dheisheh refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Bethlehem, packs a population of 11,000 in a few square miles.  Populated by Palestinians who were driven out  and lost their homes with the creation of Israel, the camp is a jig-saw puzzle of haphazard grey concrete buildings, rising slowly to multistory structures as families add a story to make space for each new generation.  Tufts of steel rebar sprout from flat roofs and walls and many buildings stand incomplete as works in progress.  Many refugees spent the winter of 1948, camping with what few supplies they had, after being driven from or fleeing their homes, hoping to return to their villages when hostilities had ended.  However, Israel did not honor the right of return for refugees, wanting a Jewish dominated state and possession of the refugees’ lands.  Israel accordingly demolished some 500 Palestinian villages within the area of its conquest in the 1948  War to erase the claim of these refugees.

 

 Unable to return home, the refugees gathered in squatter tent camps, many, as with Dheisheh, just past the Greenline armistice line outside of newly created Israel.  Under the supervision of UNRWA, a newly created UN Refugee Works Administration, tents gave way to the first concrete houses, UN funded schools and relief.  Despite UNRWA’s assistance, the Palestinians of Dheisheh have faced grim circumstances.  Under the occupation, unemployment runs at 65%, the highest in the West Bank and rivaling Gaza, and poverty with all its socio-economic implications is rampant..  Israeli supplied water flows only twice a week, requiring hoarding seen in large black water tanks clustered on the flat roofs of Palestinian homes.  While we were visiting Dheisheh the water had run out for a full week; the previous year, sewage had seeped into the water supply rendering undrinkable for at least a month. 

 

Walking through the winding alleys,  we saw bashful children standing in doorways and  not so bashful children playing in the street,  old bleached, curled remnants of martyr posters were still pasted on some walls, but it was the prominent martyr paintings and “Palestine” graffiti that caught our eyes.  During the second Intifada, Dheisheh, whose residents had lost so much to Israel, became its fiercest resisters in armed struggle.  The Israeli response was severe, invading the camp and searching house to house, punching through walls instead of entering through doors and traumatizing families.  Some twenty multistory homes were demolished by Israelis as “homes to terrorists” despite the fact that made dozens of innocents homeless and only further radicalized those affected.  Nearly everyone in the camp knows someone who was killed during the Second Intifada and many of  the camp’s men have served lengthy terms in Israeli military prison without trial.  Post-traumatic stress would be rampant, if the trauma could be categorized as post rather than ongoing.

 

Yet, Dheisheh’s residents have held on, remembering their heritage and identifying themselves as being from their home villages.  Instead of agonizing, they have organized.   Lacking any community space, they pooled their together their meager resources and built the Phoenix Community Center, a place now that plays host to weddings, dance troupes, educational facilities and summer camps.  Today, just persisting or being steadfast- sumud in Arabic- is their main way of resisting Israeli military rule that is so hostile to their living an everyday life.

Jerusalem: To Share or Not to Share?

 

 

For our first day on the ground, our delegation tackled one of the central and most emotional issues at the core of peace -making between Israelis and Palestinians: Jerusalem.  Both Israelis and Palestinians have a strong emotional connection to this holy city for the 3 Abrahamaic faiths.   But it would be a mistake to simply pigeon-hole the conflict over Jerusalem as a petty squabble over holy sites; rather, it is a nationalistic contest for control of the Jerusalem as their capital city.  Since1948, the UN’s plan to keep Jerusalem as an international city open to all failed miserably.   Fierce fighting between Zionists and Arab forces, divided Jerusalem in two in 1948, rendering a Jewish West Jerusalem and a Jordanian-controlled Arab East Jerusalem.  Wealthy Arab neighborhoods in West Jerusalem were  summarily emptied of their inhabitants to be replaced by Jewish denizens, as was pointed out by our guide on our bus trip into Jerusalem upon our arrival.  However, despite their drive for Jerusalem Zionist forces failed to capture the Old City, home to the holiest sites.  The Old City and East Jerusalem remained an Arab populated and controlled city… until 1967, when Israel conquered East Jerusalem and finally laid claim to the Old City, and the West Bank and Gaza to boot.    While most peace advocates agree that a shared Jerusalem, with Israel maintaining a capital in West Jerusalem and Palestine maintaining a capital in East Jerusalem and negotiated management of Old City holy sites precious to Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims, Israeli policies since 1967 have not moved in that direction.  As explained in a morning  briefing from ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions),  Israel “annexed” the whole of Jerusalem in 1969, declaring it the “indivisible and eternal” Jewish capital, a change which the international community has not recognized, and embarked on a set of actions to change the character  Arab-populated East Jerusalem.  For one, the boundaries of this new united Jerusalem were carefully chosen to deliver Maximum Land, Minimum Arabs.  Open and sparsely populated spaces far to the East fell within the new boundaries; however, traditional Arab neighborhoods often found themselves divided our outside the newly gerrymandered city limits.  Zoning was then implemented to strictly constrain the development of Arab neighborhoods, much of the open land being designated “green zones.”   However, instead of reserving this green zones as nature preserves, its seems these green zones became home to several  Israeli Jewish settlements, illegal population transfers under international law.   While Jewish population growth was encouraged, the Palestinian Arab population of East Jerusalem found themselves under increasingly discriminatory and onerous restrictions through zoning and permit requirements.  In fact, it became exceedingly rare for Israel to issue  very expensive building  permits for Arabs… while many technocratic reasons were given, the gross disparity indicates the true reason for the denial of these building permits was a discriminatory policy towards Jerusalems Arab population.  The result has been a severe housing shortage, driving  the price beyond the reach of some Arab citizens  of Jerusalem and putting heavy economic pressure on the rest.   One of Israel’s cruelest policies to displace the Arab population is home demolitions.  We circled the hillside around the Silwan neighborhood (named for the ancient pools of Siloam) that the Israelis call the city of David.   Under the pretext of archaeological excavation, some seventy homes in this Arab neighborhood have been placed under demolition order.  Again, the disparity between illegal Israeli settlements encouraged by the Israeli government and illegal Palestinian Arab homes that are built anyway for the lack of issued permits shows a grossly discriminating policy.  Luckily, US diplomatic pressure has given a temporary stay for these homes, but it is uncertain how long this will last.

To make a peace where Israel and Palestine share Jerusalem will require the world community to confront these policies, specifically the settlements which seem to have become “facts on the ground” to divide and fragment an Arab East Jerusalem.  Fortuitously, the Obama administration has taken a strong stand against settlements, including  in East Jerusalem.  Despite calling on Israel to enforce a settlements freeze, the Netanyahu regime in Israel has thumbed its nose at Obama’s challenge, most recently declaring several new settlement projects in East Jerusalem, most recently 20 units in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood.  Increasingly, pro-Israeli media have become more shrill on the issue (just Google settlements).  Just last Monday a settlers group held a protest at the Israeli Knesset (slandering Obama as antisemitic) and settler youth have taken the offensive creating some twenty new illegal outposts.   Obama is right on this issue and it is critical that we support him on this one and not buckle the rabidness and controversy-stirring of the pro-Israeli right.