It is not easy to obtain local media coverage for events focussed on Palestine/Israel. In an attempt to promote Jeff Halper’s visit last year, I decided on a personal fund-raising initiative to raise £5000 for ICAHD towards the cost of rehousing a dispossessed Palestinian family. The Sentinel did me proud during my Just 70 Challenge in 2005 and as a peg onto which to hang some fund-raising and to draw attention to Jeff Halper’s visit, I hoped they would do the same if I committed myself to the longest Zip Line in the world flying 500ft high over the Penrhyn Quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog at up 100 mph! Well, I did the Zip Wire and a reporter talked to me but that’s as far as it went!
Nevertheless I raised some money. My target group were those who supported me in 2005. A few had died but others came through splendidly and contributed nearly £2,500 which I topped up to £3000 for ICAHD. By now I had realized that building a house, even a prefabricated one, was unrealistic. Instead ICAHD asked if the donation could be part of three elements in their summer project when ICAHD plan to construct a centre for the 250 women of Fasayil al Fouqa in the Jordan Valley.
This will be documented as part of ICAHD’s media campaign to highlight about a group of women who Israel seeks to displace in the Jordan Valley. A women’s empowerment centre will provide them with opportunities to develop some economic independence, whilst creating space to address health and social issues in an environment that feels comfortable and safe. I had no hesitation in saying ‘yes.’ Palestine ‘grows’ extra-ordinarily strong women, exemplars of “sumud”
During the summer ICAHD will be visiting families for whom they’ve rebuilt homes and their stories will be posted on ICAHD’s website and some will also be selected for the manuscript that ICAHD is preparing to tell ICAHD’s story.
The other element of ICAHD’s summer work will be to prepare a Judaizing Palestine photographic exhibition that has a focus on Palestinian families from all areas of historic Palestine that have lost their homes. This will be used by all of the ICAHD groups abroad and certainly for ICAHD UK and specially mounted copies will be taken to places of influence, hopefully including the European Parliament.
ICAHD write: Our aim has not just been to provide humanitarian aid for the Palestinians through the homes that we rebuild (a drop in the bucket concerning the thousands of demolitions) but also to bring international awareness of this brutal violation of international law and to work towards the end of the Occupation. We believe that the our focus this summer will be really significant in taking our work to a higher level at a time when Israel has become so aggressive in its ethnic cleansing and apartheid policies on both sides of the Green Line. However we believe that Israel is losing its “security” argument in justifying its actions and increasing numbers of civil society are becoming supportive of Palestinians. We believe that our summer project has enormous potential as it tells the stories of families, putting a human face to Palestine’s history and the current situation as we try to help families remain in the homes.