A grassroots network of Palestinians and Israelis is rebuilding demolished Palestinian homes with donations from house parties occurring around the globe. In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, this peaceful but determined group is building together in defiance of the policies of the Israeli Occupation.
The founders of the Rebuilding movement, Israeli Jeff Halper and Palestinian Salim Shawamreh, will be speaking at Evanston's Lake Street Church (607 Lake Street) on Tuesday, October 8, at 7:00 pm. They will explain why they vowed to rebuild demolished homes and how people around the world are helping them.
"We began rebuilding two demolished homes in July, drawing upon the support of thousands worldwide through the Global Campaign to Rebuild Palestinian Homes," said Professor Jeff Halper, Israeli founding partner in the Campaign.
Halper continues, "House demolition, along with travel restrictions, curfews, the blockading of towns, and uprooting of trees and crops, is one of the most brazen and cruel of Israeli Occupation policies, designed to make life so difficult for ordinary Palestinians that eventually they will give up their land and leave."
Since the start of Israel's Occupation in 1967, some 9,400 Palestinian homes have been demolished. According to World Bank sources, in the spring of 2002, over 1200 more homes were destroyed by military and civil actions.
"This resistance is all about construction not destruction," said Palestinian landowner Salim Shawamreh. After years of waiting, Israeli authorities denied Shawamreh a permit to build on his own land. When he built anyway, his home was destroyed. But together with Jeff Halper and other activists, Salim and his family vowed to rebuild. Salim's home is now being rebuilt for the fourth time, with Israeli's and Palestinians working hand-in-hand on the rebuilding effort.
The Right to a Home and a Homeland Global Campaign to Rebuild Palestinian Homes was launched in June, 2002 to support Israelis and Palestinians working together in constructive resistance against Israel's Occupation. The founding organizations are the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, located in the Israeli West and the Palestinian East Jerusalem. The Campaign is funded by private house party fundraisers organized by global citizens who stand for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. See www.Rebuildinghomes.org
"In the midst of a situation which seems hopeless and bleak, here are people coming together to build homes and to build a basis for justice." says NIMN spokesperson Cindy Levitt. "This is not about Israelis versus Palestinians, it is about people who work together for peace and justice versus peopleor even stateswho incite violence."
NIMN, the predominantly Jewish, Chicago-based organization that is opposed to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, is sponsoring this event. It is being co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, the Arab American Action Network, the Evanston Mennonite Peace & Social Concerns Committee, the North Park University Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Palestinian Aid Society.-30-