Friday, May 25, 2012

IFPB Delegation Trip Reports

Our coalition member group Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is currently leading their 40th delegation to Palestine/Israel. Below are excerpts from their first trip report. 


By Marianne Torres

Those of you who received reports from my last trip know they contain joy, fun, and heartbreak, with more hard stuff than light, filled with information vital to the struggle. Just sayin'.....

Myrta and I are getting quite excited about the possibilities when we return! This trip has an environmental theme and we are going to learn a lot more about land use, water, and pollution here than we ever expected! We'll be able to speak to new audiences with this info (click here for photos from our first day).

We left the hotel early, without Anna, one of the trip leaders, who only arrived at the hotel about 2 am, having spent 10 hours in the little holding room with our fellow delegate who was not allowed in with us. This one ended badly, with the first Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) delegate to be turned away in 10 years. It was hard on everyone as we are already forming bonds, but particularly on her traveling partner who is a good friend of many years. Anna joined us later in the day today.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: One Perspective

By Jim McLoughlin

Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, gave us a brilliant and passionate presentation. To him, the “American-Israeli” occupation has long been the major conflict pitting the West, especially the US, against the Muslim world. He is pessimistic and he feels that Netanyahu’s total intimidation of Obama (and AIPAC's of Congress) has made the Israeli government confident that it can now get away with outright annexation of roughly 60% of the remaining Palestinian land (“Area C”).

The group was impressed with his response to the oft-heard charge that Palestinians are to blame for their lack of effective leadership. By contrast, he notes the systemic and unrelenting effort by Israelis to quell any and all political opposition by intimidation, assassination, torture, forced separation from family and imprisonment. By his estimate, more than 4,000 Palestinians are currently in jail for politically related charges.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: A Fourth Perspective

By Marianne Torres
We met with Jeff Halper, of ICAHD.  Jeff made an analogy to a fishbone caught in your throat. It's just a tiny, tiny thing, just as this area is tiny, but when it's stuck, everything stops until you un-stick it!

Jeff's presentation received mixed reviews. Some felt he was too tepid about BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), others felt he was only saying that it was not going to change anything by itself but that it is an excellent tool for Americans to use. At one point, he said "it's all over" about a Two-State solution (no surprise) and that it's also all over for a One-State solution - that WAS a surprise. He says 'one-state" is "not even on the table" as most world leaders do not yet support it, as he believes world leaders are not ready to support "the end of the Jewish State" and, he says "there is no readily apparent solution that I can point to" but later said he supports "regional organization" rather than One State. My disagreement here, of course, is that the end of a sate which runs on a system of apartheid and legal racism, would surely be the best place to start!

Read more and find photos at IFPB's website