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We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters, informing them of issues, events, debates and the wider context of the conflict. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.
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Action Alerts


The BEDOUIN

We have posted more than 30 articles on The Bedouin of the Naqab/Negev over the last three years

See the JfJfP briefing note on Bedouin Palestinians of the Naqab and download our 2013 leaflet on the Prawer plan
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Did you know?



Settlements Generate Virtually No Economic Activity
"A recent Israeli government report estimated there are…$250 million in annual exports — [only] 0.55 percent of the national total — from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories the international community generally considers illegally occupied."
Jodi Rodoren cited by Richard Silverstein, 22 Jan 2014

Daily acts of violence committed by Jewish Israeli citizens against West Bank Palestinians
"These incidents — now particularly heightened during the olive harvest season — are not the aberration from the norm, but a regular feature of life in the occupied West Bank. In 2012, over 7,500 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. In the 5-year period between 2007 and 2011, there was a 315 percent increase in settler violence."
Mairav Zonszein, Israel Must Stop Settler Violence, 8 November 2013
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Police impunity
After their own investigations establishing a prima facie violation, Btselem has lodged over 280 complaints of alleged police violence in the oPt since the start of the second Intifada: "we are aware of only 12 indictments" Btselem April 2013
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Runners in the first ever Bethlehem Marathon were forced to run two laps of the same course on Sunday 21 April 2013, as Palestinians were unable to find a single stretch of free land that is 26 miles long in Area A, where the PA has both security and civil authority. See Marathon report
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30th March, land day.
On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians living as a minority in Israel mounted a general strike and organised protests against Israeli government plans to expropriate almost 15,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Galilee.The Israeli government, led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defence minister Shimon Peres, sent in the army to break up the general strike. The Israeli army killed six unarmed Palestinians, wounded hundreds and arrested hundreds more, including political activists. All were citizens of Israel.
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* Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offences committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din, 3 Feb 2013
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* In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
Haaretz editorial, 4 Feb 2013
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Posts

Neither of us can win this battle — there will just be more broken hearts


Mazen Faraj and Robi Damelin … each has faced hostility from their own community. Photo by Sarah Lee, Guardian

The Israeli and the Palestinian: ‘We have discovered this joint pain’

An Israeli mother who lost her son and a Palestinian whose father was shot dead – together they now seek peace in the Middle East

By Emine Saner,The Guardian,
November 25, 2012/G2 November 26, 2012

It was only later, after the intense shock had subsided and a heavy pain was starting to bed in, that Robi Damelin was told what her first words were on hearing that her son had been killed: “You may not kill anybody in the name of my child.” She says now: “I suppose that was some kind of prediction of what I would do in the future. But I don’t know what revenge means. How many people should I kill? Would that bring David back? I was very motivated to find something that would prevent other families experiencing this pain.”

In 2002, David, a university student who had been doing his reserve duty in the Israeli Defence Force, was killed by a Palestinian sniper while he was guarding a checkpoint. Damelin, who was running a PR agency in Tel Aviv, could no longer work – it felt meaningless. A group called the Parents Circle Families Forum asked if she would like to join them: set up in 1995 by Yitzhak Frankenthal, whose 19-year-old son was killed by Hamas fighters, it now comprises more than 600 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families working together to campaign for reconciliation.

“It was quite extraordinary to meet Palestinian mothers and discover this joint pain, and how powerful we could be as a force together to make a difference,” she says. “And so I got swept along, and it became more and more my life. And now, apart from my grandchildren, there is nothing else – I have become a very one-dimensional character, absolutely geared to this idea. This latest Gaza mess is just so indicative of the cycle of violence. It’s not working for either side. Neither of us can win this battle. All that will happen is there will be more and more broken hearts.”

We meet a few hours before the ceasefire ended eight days of violence in Gaza. The issue, says Damelin, is how long it will be until the violence flares up again and another short-term ceasefire has to be negotiated. “Sometimes I can’t believe the stupidity of the repetition,” she says. It doesn’t threaten the unity of the group “because we don’t allow this situation to affect who we are.

“We continue to work. The Palestinians from our group continue to come to schools and talk. I’m not sure if I watched the news on Al Jazeera every day I would continue to come and talk about reconciliation, so we think that’s a really good indication of the trust within this organisation.”

“Sometimes you get very disappointed,” says Mazen Faraj, who has been sitting quietly listening to Damelin: “All the work you are doing – and then you find yourself in a new cycle of violence.” He was born in a refugee camp in the West Bank, where he still lives with his young family. As a teenager, Faraj and his brothers were imprisoned in Israeli jails several times. In 2002, his father was shot dead by an Israeli soldier.

“Since I was a kid, I have been dealing with the conflict,” he says. “It is so hard to live in a country without security, justice, rights. After the loss of my father, I spent a lot of time not knowing what to do. It was a huge feeling. There are options – you can choose revenge and become a suicide bomber, or you can stay at home and die slowly with your memories, or maybe you can really do something useful. To become an extremist is the easy way, but to reach a solution in this conflict through dialogue, and to find understanding, would be more helpful for me.”

Joining the group, he says, felt like a rare choice he could make in his life. “When you are living under Israeli occupation, you can’t decide anything. The work with the Parents Circle, I have chosen it and I decide to do it, and I believe it’s the continuation of the struggle.” This doesn’t mean group meetings are always easy, or that everybody always agrees, but they want the same outcome. A lot of their work is in education: Faraj and other Palestinian members go with their Israeli colleagues to speak in schools, reaching 25,000 students every year.

“When I was young, all I knew of Israelis was the soldier or the settler, but something happened to change that picture. I met Rami Elhanan [another prominent Parents Circle member], an Israeli from Jerusalem who lost his daughter in a suicide bomb attack. He talked about his suffering and pain, and I found a new picture of the Israeli side, which is the human side. It doesn’t mean I’m falling in love with the Israelis or I forget what has happened in my life, but I have a new picture now.”

Each has faced some hostility from their own communities for the work they do and there are many times when their own commitment to reconciliation is tested. Damelin remembers hearing reports – mistaken, it later turned out – that the man who killed her son was one of the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who would be released in exchange for the safe return of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Even though she has supported prisoner releases to ease negotiations, “that was really a test. It’s easy to talk about reconciliation and peace and it all trips off your tongue, but do you mean it? Sometimes it’s very hard. You become very defensive about your own people. I love Israel. It’s not that I have become a Palestinian. I just think that the occupation is killing the moral fibre of my country and for that I will fight.”

Damelin and Faraj both travel a lot, giving talks, meeting politicians and other groups. I ask what kind of picture she gets of how the conflict is viewed from outside and Damelin sighs: “This whole idea of being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine – what comes out of that is that you are not helping either nation and you are importing our conflict into your country. That is very clear in Britain. If you are pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, and your leaders are encouraging this – some of your politicians, it is very clear whose side they are on – the Jews and Muslims here are beginning to hate each other. It’s very easy for both the Muslim and Jewish communities in the diaspora not to compromise; they’re not exactly put to the test every day. If you can’t be part of the solution, I would really ask you to leave us alone. I really mean that.”

Damelin grew up in South Africa. Her recent return to the country was made into a film, One Day After Peace, in which she talked to people about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what could be learned from it. “The most amazing thing is that it’s such an affirmation of the work we’re doing now,” she says.

In South Africa she was an anti-apartheid campaigner but left in 1967, not quite believing apartheid would end: “I believe that a miracle happened in South Africa and I think a miracle could happen for us too. I have hope. We can’t afford to give up hope.”

The Parents’ Circle:Bereaved Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance

Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum

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