Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IFPB "Voices of the Peace-Builders" delegation arrives in Israel/Palestine

Our National Organizer, Anna Baltzer, this week traveled to Palestine-Israel, where she is leading a delegation for Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB), which is a member of our coalition.

May 23, 2011

Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 31-member delegation to Israel/Palestine arrived at Ben-Gurion airport Monday morning and is now safely in Jerusalem.

The purpose of this delegation, the 36th to make the trip since 2001, is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

The delegation will explore Palestinian and Israeli efforts to achieve peace and a resolution to their conflict based on justice and feature meetings with Palestinian and Israeli peace-builders — leaders of civil society groups, grassroots organizers, religious leaders and more.  Given the current situation in the West Bank, the delegation will focus on learning about the challenges facing nonviolent activists resisting occupation.

Delegates meet in Washington, DC, for preparations.
The political situation in the region opened up recently when Palestinian factions signed a unity deal that could end years of political stalemate. President Obama also issued a strong statement last week entreating Israel to make concessions necessary for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These developments have set the onus on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is currently in Washington to address a joint session of the US Congress.

May also marks the annual commemoration of Israel’s independence and the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) and the birth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In commemoration of these events, on May 15 Palestinian refugees led massive nonviolent demonstrations on Israel's borders. Israeli soldiers responded with deadly force killing scores of demonstrators and wounding hundreds more.

Participants on this delegation have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians and Israelis regarding these developments and sharing their hopes for peace and the role of the US government in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

The delegation includes:
Haneen Abuqalbeen - Tampa, Florida
Michael Argaman - Rochester, New York
Anna Baltzer - St. Louis, Missouri
Lisa Barksdale - Allston, Massachusetts
Steve Bell - Mt. Berry, Georgia
Ben Bell - Mt. Berry, Georgia
Harvie Branscomb - Basalt, Colorado
Amanda Cruz-Mujica - Tampa, Florida
Amy Damashek - Kalamazoo, Michigan
Peter Dziedzic - Addison, Illinois
Ronna Grimes - Rochester, New York
Arlene Halfon - Washington DC
Alex Hartmann - Bellevue, Nebraska
Adam Horowitz - New York, New York
Elaine Johnson - Pittsford, New York
Sara Traub - Toronto, Ontario
Colleen Kelly - St. Louis, Missouri
Lucas Koerner - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Robert Kuhlmann - Flushing, New York
Tammy McLane - New Port Richey, Florida
Tiffany McLane - New Port Richey, Florida
Kim Nesta - Ithaca, New York
Rusty Olson - Rochester, New York
Jeanette Olson - Rochester, New York
Lydia  Ray - Annandale, Virginia
Dick Rudloff - Alameda, California
Linc Spaulding - Rochester, New York
Sue Spaulding - Rochester, New York
Vince Stravino - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Will Thomas - Auburn, New Hampshire
Beth Woolever - Rochester, New York