| français (original) | Español |

www.alliance21.org > Workgroups > Thematic Groups > Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act > Journey to Palestine: Report

Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act

Building Peace: Understanding First, So We Can Act

Chronicle of the meetings

The following description is not complete. We are eager, however, to inform you of what we were able to do in such little time.
Several civil-society organizations in Palestine and also in Israel are especially active at the moment. We would like to stress that without their presence we would not have been able to do anything much. In Jerusalem, which lies just 15 km away from Ramallah, it is possible to talk to people and to circulate without any major problems. We should nonetheless not forget that in Jerusalem itself, on Friday, April 12 at the end of the afternoon, a bomb carried by a young Palestinian girl exploded in a market on the very centrally located Jaffa street, killing eight persons and injuring about sixty.

Following is a non-exhaustive list of the organizations we met with:
The physicians and the staff of the hospital in Ramallah. It is important to show solidarity in Ramallah itself close to the building where Arafat and the internationals remain under siege. It is also important to be able to show such solidarity with the physicians, the injured, and the patients who also remain under siege in Ramallah’s hospital. We were able to have a long meeting with the hospital’s Director and other physicians, who told us in detail of the suffering of the Palestinians of Ramallah since March 29.
Today, there are not many injured in this hospital, contrary to the first days of the Israeli offensive, when the injured flooded in. A lot of people died during those first days, not only those injured but also people who came to the hospital for reasons of serious illness or even childbirth and who were not able to receive proper care (diabetics in particular). The hospital’s physicians are not allowed to leave the building except in ambulances. They are given fresh supplies by the local population when the curfew is raised for a few hours about every three days.
When we asked them: How much time can you hold out? Do you have enough medicine and material to last through a long occupation of the city? Their answer was clear and precise: "For the emergencies we can hold out for two months; in terms of resistance, our people have already been holding out for at least a hundred years." Then we asked another question (each time we asked a question we also asked it to ourselves): What should we do to prepare ourselves to not suffer a new tragedy? We have to say that the answers are far from obvious, but we found that the very fact of asking questions about the future helped us to breathe a little ... as if thinking of the long term helped to face the short term ...

Jerusalem Media Communication Center. This center publishes a daily press release and a weekly analytical report on the situation in Palestine. It is also an especially valuable center for research and opinion analysis because it has already issued many publications on subjects as varied as the analysis of the political forces, water management, the demographic situation, the urbanization of Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities, the situation in the rural zones, etc. Their Web site is very rich: www.jmcc.org

Law Society. The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment. This is one of the most active Palestinian organizations for the defense and the legal protection of the Palestinians. It unceasingly attempts to enter the Palestinian camps destroyed by the Israeli army to find the dead and the survivors. It organizes delegations to enter these camps as well as meetings and press conferences in connection with Amnesty International, Lawyers without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, the IFHR, and other international networks for the defense of rights. www.lawsociety.org
We also met a similar organization on the Israeli side: B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

SHAML, Palestinian Refugee & Diaspora Center. A Ramallah-based organization that works among others on the question of the return of the Palestinians in the refugee camps in the surrounding countries and of the Palestinian Diaspora. This organization focuses on all the questions related to making the Palestinians’ right to return possible, including such questions as the economic viability of such a return, the need to organize reception structures, and the resolution of political and legal issues. www.shaml.org

Cultural Service, French Embassy. It is significant to observe how this service, faced with the need to get emergency aid directly to the Palestinians in the camps destroyed by the Israeli army, does everything it can to continue to support, in addition, the initiatives of Palestinian artists, cultural groups, and academics to safeguard the artistic and intellectual wealth of Palestine. It can seem out of place to also care, in this time of distress and survival of the Palestinian people, for the artistic and cultural dimension. Yet such action is indispensable, not only to preserve hope and to enable as much as possible the cultural expressions of resistance, but also to weave new links with the Israeli people and to contribute to making Israelis understand that it is intolerable to try to build one society on the ashes of the extinction of another one.
We would like to underscore the importance of the role played by the French Cultural Services because it is likely that the contributions of other services of other embassies can play a significant role, as well as the representatives of multilateral organizations, UNICEF in particular.

Peace Now, la Paix Maintenant. This is the movement that has mobilized, since the war of 1967 and within Israeli society itself, the sectors in favor of Peace. We were also able to meet a few coordinators of Gush Shalom, another very active movement in the mobilization against the war, against the occupation, and for peace. Another group also places the accent on the demonstrations joining Palestinians and Israelis: The Peoples Peace Campaign. There are many groups like these in Israel, one of the more important ones being the group of refuzniks and conscientious objectors.
Needless to say, there are tensions between these various movements and they have not always joined their efforts in the past, some accusing others of not following the right direction. They are aware, however, that their efforts are still very embryonic and that all initiatives are good to try to mobilize the Israeli society against the war launched by Sharon.

AlQuds University, a Palestinian university of higher studies, which also works with the Center for Jerusalem Studies and the Community Education Center. More than 5,000 students are involved in the educational activities facilitated by these two institutions. www.jerusalem-studies.org

Meetings with Palestinian and Israeli parliamentarians. With the delegation of Brazilian parliamentarians as well as other parliamentarians from Belgium, France, and Italy, we were able to meet with some Palestinian and Israeli parliamentarians. These meetings are also very important: they establish contacts and strengthen connections among actors who are likely to meet again to work on the questions of governance and the renewal of the democratic representation systems, whereas the armed conflicts have done nothing but block the search for peace.
Otherwise, the Brazilian parliamentarians had a meeting with, among others, Shimon Peres and some Red Crescent officers.

Indymedia and some youth networks in Tel Aviv. Indymedia in Tel Aviv is part of the international network of alternative information centers on the Internet. The team that we met, with scarce technical means, publishes information on the Internet, in particular via radio, to try to reach a broader audience. The meeting with Israeli youth was very meaningful. Christophe Aguiton, Nicola Bullard, and Gustavo Marin attempted do some in depth thinking with them, observing that they have two enormous challenges to face: to back the resistance of the Palestinian people and, at the same time, to get Israeli society to become aware that it must not back the warmongers in power. The gigantic nature of this task is overwhelming. We tried nonetheless to encourage them; we told them that these two challenges were also our own, and that we had to remain in contact to see how we could carry on together. Looking at these young people, we noted both a great weakness, and at the same time some signs of hope.

Alternative Information Center. This is a particularly active organization to maintain the connections with the internationals and the various delegations arriving in Palestine. It plays a key role in the information flow and in the reinforcement of links among Palestinians and peace-seeking Israelis.

The march toward Jenin on Saturday, April 13. It is important to stress that since March 29, various demonstrations have taken place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and even in Ramallah. They have been viciously repressed by the Israeli army, with tear-gas bombs, sound bombs, and also some shooting. Some have only gathered a few dozen demonstrators. The one on Saturday, April 13 to Jenin was especially meaningful because it assembled close to 3,000 people, with a majority of Israelis, and it headed toward Jenin, which has become the city symbolic of the barbarism of the Israeli army.
So far the army had not shot at the demonstrators and caused a massacre. The organizers were very careful to keep things under control and avoid provocation. However, according to the same organizers, the danger of a massacre is real and must be avoided with great care so as not to paralyze peaceful resistance.

Press conference. On Sunday April 14 in Jerusalem, we held a press conference. Those present were: Dennis Dyn-Hansen (United States, International Solidarity Movement), Christophe Aguiton (France, Attac), Nicola Bullard (Thailand, Focus on Global South), Robert David (Canada, Alternatives), Gustavo Marin (Chile-France, FPH), and José Moraguès of the International Campaign for the Protection of the Palestinian People. The Brazilian delegates, as well as other Italian and Belgian delegates, could not attend the press conference; some had gone to Ramallah at the time of Colin Powell’s visit to Yasser Arafat.
We had transmitted a joint press release to the attendees, among which were journalists from the Jerusalem Post (Israel), le Nouvel Observateur (France), the Financial Times (United Kingdom), and la Republica (Italy).


Gustavo Marin
Director of the Forum for a New World (...)
+ de 26 article(s)

Karine Goasmat
Exemole, France
+ de 4 article(s)

Robert David
Alternatives, Canada
+ de 3 article(s)

Journey to Palestine: Report

-Background and preparation
-Proposals for further action

1999-2009 Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World Legal Notices RSS Keeping in touch with the Web site