Second Palestinian call for the 8 July mission

Posted by redacteur in Mercredi, mars 9th 2011
Dear friends,

Palestinian civil society organizations applaud the Freedom Flotilla that will again, in May, challenge the brutal and illegal siege of the people of Gaza. Decent people around the world will be working in support of this international intiative.

While we rightly focus on Gaza we must not forget that Israeli colonial authorities are implementing their racist apartheid policies throughout historic Palestine.  In the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in the Negev and the Galilee, ethnic cleansing and killing/injuring civilians are just some of the many violations of basic human rights. The aim is always to keep us isolated as well as divided, the better to achieve the goal of dispossessing us.

For this reason, we call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to support and join the other important international challenge this summer to the Israeli siege of the whole of Palestine. The daily indignities heaped on the Palestinian people are reflected in the attitude of officials at Tel Aviv airport to prevent any humanitarian/solidarity trips. Israel’s attempts to prevent entry by peace activists even though the occuupied Palestinian Territories are recognized internationally as illegally occupied by Israel. We must oppose Israel’s arbitrary, unlawful, and abusive behavior (See the Right to Enter Campaign at http://www.righttoenter.ps/)

A week of solidarity: 8 – 16 July
Hundreds of men, women and children fly into Tel Aviv airport to visit us in the occupied Palestinian territories The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassement. We call upon citizens of many countries to visit us on July 8th. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.You will be accommodated locally. You will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer  peace work in Palestinian towns and villages (e.g. land reclamation).Local activist groups in Europe and in the United States are organizing delegations.  Email us at info@palestinejn.org if you would like to be connected to the organizing group in your country.

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre, http://www.alrowwad-acts.ps
Alternative Information Center http://www.alternativenews.org
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights:www.badil.org/
Bil’in Popular Resistance Committee http://www.bilin-village.org
Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil’in http://www.bilin-ffj.org
Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign http://www.stopthewall.org
Holy Land Trust: http://www.holylandtrust.org
International Solidarity Movement: http://www.palsolidarity.org
Open Bethlehem: http://www.openbethlehem.org
Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People http://www.PCR.PS
Palestine Justice Network http://www.palestinejn.org
Palestine Solidarity Project WWW.palestinesolidarityproject.org
Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee http://www.popularstruggle.org/
Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, http://www.sirajcenter.org
Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)

(13 April 2011)
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Palestinian Call to international civil society :

Palestinian civil society organizations and peace and human rights defenders and activists on the ground call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to come to Palestine July 8 for a week of fellowship and peace-building. Israel must recognize the basic human right of entering to Palestine by those who want to visit us. Israel’s arbitrary and abusive control over entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territories is unlawful and must be vigorously opposed. (See the Right to Enter Campaign at http://www.righttoenter.ps/)

Palestinians throughout historic Palestine and in exile still believe in and work for peace based upon justice and trust that with the help of the international community we will achieve our peace and freedom and restore the values and principles that we share as human beings.

We believe in peace-building based on nonviolence for implementation of International Law and Human Rights. We believe that every single one of us is a change maker, and nobody has the right to to deny us the access to suffering populations.

We invite you. We call upon you. Join us and be the change you want to see in this world. You will be accommodated locally and enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer  peace work in Palestinian towns and villages (e.g. land reclamation).

Local activist groups in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa are organizing delegations.  Email us atinfo@palestinejn.org if you would like to be connected to the organizing group in your country.

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre, www.alrowwad-acts.ps
Alternative Information Center www.alternativenews.org
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights:www.badil.org/
Bil’in Popular Resistance Committee www.bilin-village.org
Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil’in www.bilin-ffj.org
Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign www.stopthewall.org
Holy Land Trust: www.holylandtrust.org
International Solidarity Movement: www.palsolidarity.org
Open Bethlehem: www.openbethlehem.org
Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People www.PCR.PS
Palestine Justice Network www.palestinejn.org
Palestine Solidarity Project WWW.palestinesolidarityproject.org
Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee www.popularstruggle.org/
Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, www.sirajcenter.org
Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)

Our objectives

« This international mission from the 8th to the 16th of July 2011, was decided and is organised by fifteen Palestinian civil rights organisations, in particular by the popular resistance committees of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This initiative is original and unique for three reasons :

1° arrive together on the same day (Friday 8th July) at Ben Gourion airport (Tel Aviv) from many different countries

2° refuse to lie about the reason we have come or to sign illegal commitments not to enter the Palestinian territories. We will not hide the fact that we have come to visit our Palestinian friends.

3° We will help the West Bank Palestinians to plant or replant a maximum of olive trees on their lands.

The right to enter Palestine :

The Israeli government has no right to refuse us access to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Israël destroyed the only Palestinian airport, built with our money (European grants). As a result, we have no other option but to go through israeli security, even though we don’t want to go to Israel. We are pacifists, we will have nothing dangerous in our bags. We call on our elected representatives and our governments, during the following months, to ensure that we  shall be normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben Gourion airport, as are israeli citizens when they come to our countries.

We denounce the blockade on Gaza, but Israel imposes a second blockade, equally intolerable if not more deceitful, upon the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, refusing people entry without reason, humiliating travelers in a racist manner, often for hours, because of their arabic-sounding name, asking them questions that have nothing to do with security, like the names of their grandparents, their religion, or their knowledge of the arab language.

Our Palestinian friends of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, who ask us to come and visit them this summer, suffer not only from the brutality of the occupation and colonization, from the annexation of their lands, from the eviction of whole families and house demolitions, but also from isolation, being deprived of their freedom of movement.

We will show our solidarity with their non violent popular resistance, by being many from each continent to join them, such as international law allows us, and by helping them plant as many olive trees as possible on their lands. All in a joyous and fraternal atmosphere. They are waiting for us. Lets accept the challenge.

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FAQ

What is the program for this mission ?

Arrival on the 8th of July of all participants from around the world. Activities will begin on the 9th of July, anniversary date of the 2004 decision of the International Court of Justice (The Hague) which decided that the wall built by Israel is illegal, as are its settlements in the Palestinian territories. The court deemed that it was not a separation wall but an annexation wall and demanded its destruction aswell as the dismantling of israeli settlements beyond the Green Line (boundary of Israel before June 4th 1967).

One year later, on the 9th of July 2005, 170 Palestinian civil rights associations (since joined by hundreds of others) launched, in the absence of consideration of this decision by governments, an appeal to international civil society for its commitment to act and enforce international law.

From the 9th to the 16th of July, these Palestinian associations have requested a massive show of solidarity, to come and see firsthand the worsening situation of apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, in East Jerusalem and all over the West Bank.

We will visit towns, villages and camps where Palestinians are being dispossessed of their lands, evicted from their homes, attacked by settlers and prevented from moving freely within the Palestinian territories.

Who is organising this mission ?

This mission is being coordinated by 15 associations who put out this invitation to accompany them in their daily tasks, between the 8th and the 16th of July. They include Palestinian muslims and chistians, living in cities like Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah or East Jerusalem, aswell as villages like Bil’in, Al Walaja, Al Maasara, and refugee camps such as Aïda, Deishe, Beit Omar, Balata… all participating in Palestinian popular resistance.

They are used to receiving internationals, but have decided that a different type of mission is now necessary, to draw worldwide attention on their worsening situation. Because of the blockade and israeli massacres, attention has been focused mainly on the Gaza  strip. In the mean time, Israel has taken advantage of the situation, stealing more land, evicting more families, building more settlements and continuing the general ghettoization of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The organisers of the mission emphasize that  the situation is as serious in both regions and that the Palestinian people do not form two entities, but one, subjected to the same oppression that is designed to drive them from their land.

Logistics

We will share the activities of the Palestinians, and will be welcomed and housed by families. The logistics (transport, logings and food) are organised by the Palestinian organization committee, which estimates the daily cost per person at around 30€ (significant reductions for children).

Rules of conduct

We remind you that the main rule of conduct of this mission is non-violence. All the activities that we plan to do will be peaceful.

This mission is not some sort of “holiday camp”.  We will encounter soldiers of the occupying army during our stay. It is possible that they will try to intimidate or provoke us. We will not respond and we will refuse any physical or verbal abuse. The numerous Palestinians accompanying us throughout the mission will advise us and be our guides.

How to obtain your plane ticket ?

Each person must buy a return plane ticket. The arrival date must be the 8th of July, but the return date is up to you, as you may wish to remain longer in Palestine. We are obliged to arrive at Tel Aviv airport, because Israel destroyed the only airport in Palestine and we have no other way to enter Palestine (going through Amman airport in Jordan is not only more expensive, you will also be confronted in the same way by the israeli border police who control the Allenby Bridge crossing on the West Bank/Jordan border).

It is advised you buy your ticket on the internet, through websites such as «Skycanner.com», « ebookers.com », « opodo.com”, to get good prices, remembering to consult this website beforehand for advice.

At the moment, the price for a return ticket (usally with a stopover) varies between 300€ and 500€. We advise you to avail of low prices while it’s still possible. If you have any difficulties or hesitations, you can contact activists in France or any other country, who will help you choose a flight. See the heading « Participate in this mission » on this website.


What are the formalities before departure
?

The situation varies from one country to another. For those who are not citizens of a member State of the European Union, it may be necessary to obtain a visa. Israel often refuses entry to citizens of countries such as Algeria, Lebanon, Syria… So please seek advice on this point.

What about the risks of not getting in ? (Sophia from Germany answers)

Since 2001 or 02, the Palestinian and international movements have been discussing what we can do as the Israeli governments, the UN, our governments and all those in power obviously are not at all interested in implementing international law in Palestine. The movements came to the conclusion that we ourselves as citizens, as movements, need to defend Palestinian rights, their resistance, and even their survival, by permanently breaking the sieges and isolation the Palestinians and their territories are being subjected to by Israel (and the International Community). We from outside have followed the Palestinians’ calls to come visit them, be witnesses and protect their resistance.

Often activists – as we all know – used all kinds of tricks in order to follow this call and to enter « coute que coute ». This is not a bad idea if your one and only priority is to enter the country. Now we know many cases where this worked, and maybe as many where this didn’t work. In Germany the very few activists who went at all to Palestine even went as far as not to talk or write in public about their experience in or links to Palestine, they forbade themselves any public or political activities referring to Palestine in Germany and even this did not help; they are denied entry, even permanently. Plus all their activities in Palestine hardly had any effect in changing public opinion in Germany.

So our conclusion (in Palestine, in France and elsewhere) has been: if you practice any kind of solidarity with the Palestinian people (for example BDS activities) there is the threat that you will be denied entry. If entering is the essential thing for you then you need to forget about any political solidarity with the Palestinian people; you can just maybe write or talk about their suffering (which is done widely in Germany, even in the mainstream media) and collect money for humanitarian help. Or as aa official of a party or another institution you can meet with Palestinan or Israeli counterparts and discuss « peace » or humanitarian issues. You can do what our government does anyway. The German government more than any other one, I guess, supports the Israeli occupation by funding the Palestinian territories’ infrastructure (being destroyed once in a while by Israel, then rebuilt by the EU to be destroyed again etc.).

So, of course, the 8th of July mission, like the boats to Gaza, like the Gaza Freedom March etc. are not about entering at any price or bringing help in at any price – they are about insisting (by the action and not just in words) on the Palestinians’ rights and our right (to enter).

Any activity complying in one way or another with the Israeli system of arbitrariness is counterproductive. I guess the Palestinian movements and those in solidarity with them have come to this conclusion some years ago. This is the result of joint experience, joint struggles, and debates over the years. And the thing is: in Germany, we have not participated in this process. Even friends or comrades who are dedicated to the Palestinian cause would argue that it doesn’t make any sense to try and enter like that, as part of a mission about our right to enter. This will be punished by Israel etc. And there will be no public awareness, they say, nobody will be interested in this kind of inefficient activity of a crazy bunch of desperadoes. And I say, of course not, if we ourselves think that we are powerless and that there is no alternative to the submission to Israeli arbitrariness. If we ourselves are convinced that it is stupid to not accept that they
define what we can do.

Yes, they might deport us – just as they are more and more often deporting activists who try their best to pretend that they are just tourists etc. Should we just give up our solidarity with our Palestinian partners? Should we instead deal with some of them, sometimes, if Israel allows us to and on  Israeli (arbitrary) conditions? Mazin Qumsieh, Lubna Masarwa and all those we applauded at the Stuttgart conference made another proposal.

What you should bring ?

It will be summertime so you should bring light clothing. Older people who so wish may sleep inside Palestinian houses, while the other participants will camp outside. Bring tents and light sleeping bags because the nights are not cold.

Remember to bring sun cream, sun glasses and a hat.
Any baggage that you carry onboard (not in the hold) must not contain sharp objects or liquides.

Bring sweets and other goodies that you can give to children and families.

Don’t forget your camera and/or camcorder.

Bring along any musical instruments if they are easy to transport and let us know as soon as possible what instrument you can play !

Money

You should bring cash, but it’s always more practical to have your credit card with you, just in case. Cash can be exchanged for shekels on arrival, which is the currency in Israel and Palestine. Your daily expenses will be around 30€ par day, per person (transport from one town to another can be expensive), so you can also give a little money to the Palestinian families we will be staying with.

Languages

The language spoken in Palestine is arabic. The Palestinian dialect is closer to classical arabic than the arabic dialects spoken in north Africa. English is the second most spoken langauge and you will be understood most of the time. All of the visits and group discussions will be translated. We will also be meeting internationals from other countries so english will be the main language of communication.

Communication

The mobile telephone network covers most of the West Bank. If your subscription allows you to call foreign countries, you will be able to use your mobile phone on site. A cheaper option is to buy a SIM card over there, but before leaving home, make sure you ask your network operator to activate (unblock) the feature allowing your mobile phone to change SIM cards.

How can I contribute to the success of this mission ?

The success of this mission depends on each and every one of us, especially before departure, meaning NOW !

The more we are, the stronger our mesage will be. We must make this initiative known to as many people as possible, convince family members, friends to participate. This website is a good way to spread the word, but also flyers that you can make and of course other web networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

You can organize various events between now and July to tell people about the mission « Welcome to Palestine » (films, information stands during meetings, concerts, Couscous dinners…).

Ask your local/national repesentatives for an appointment to talk about the mission, ask them  to join us, or at least support us.

Ask well known people and celebrities (university professors, sportsmen and women, journalists, artists, writers, actors…) to join the mission’s Support Committee. In France, a famous bishop and a senator have already joined.

Ask those who are unable to accompany us in July to sponsor young people who would like to come but who don’t have the money, by sending a donation (see the heading « Sponsor a volunteer). If you have difficulty financing this trip, ask your friends to help you.

More information

If you or your group wish to get involved in organizing this misson in your respective countries, please contact us through this website so we can coordinate our efforts. Meetings to plan the trip are being organised all over France, you can do the same and we can help you if need be.

Contacts abroad

CONTACTS POUR L’ETRANGER

– Belgique : palestine.libre2011@yahoo.fr

– Allemagne : 8juli2011@kopi-online.de et sophia_deeg@yahoo.de

– Etats-Unis : BienvenuePalestineusa@gmail.com

– Grece : sanakassem61@hotmail.com

– Grande-Bretagne : uk@bienvenuepalestine.com

– Suisse : iselin@worldcom.ch

– Portugal : accao.palestina@gmail.com

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Sponsor a volunteerIf you are unable to come with us on the mission, you can however participate in other ways, in particular by publicizing it and asking people you know if they would like to come. Also, you can send us a donation that will help finance the trip for a young person or a family.You can choose the person you wish to sponsor by sending your donation that will help him/her raise the amount (travel plus living expenses) necessary to come to Palestine this summer. In doing so, you will make someone happy and we will inform you which student, unemployed person or family benefited from your generosity.

Your donation, which will be spent solely on the July mission to Palestine, will allow you to receive a tax receipt, which permits you to deduct 60% of the sum you send from your income tax.. This is the case under french tax law. Please enquire if you may do the same under the tax law of your own country.

To send us your donation, by check or by bank transfer, please enquire at : contact@BienvenuePalestine.com

Thank you !

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