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Friends International Center in Ramallah .
Ramallah Friends Meeting  
February, 2013
(Vol. VII No. 2)

From the Program Coordinator

The Israeli elections have come and gone.  The outcome of the elections will affect all Palestinians directly—those living in Israel and those living under Israeli military occupation.    After the elections I heard Gideon Levy (journalist for Ha’aretz newspaper) and Hanin Zoabi (from Nazareth and Member of the Israeli Knesset) analyze the Israeli elections.  Gideon spoke first and spelled out three imaginary scenarios: (1) that all the right wing parties form a government; President Obama comes to Jerusalem and sees the intractability and goes back to Washington resolved that he must do something. (2) that the center parties form a government; President Obama comes to Jerusalem and sees the center parties have formed a coalition, so he goes home and says that they will work it out and life goes on and the occupation goes on. (3) Prime Minister Netanyahu forms a real coalition that begins to deal with the real issues at hand—settlements, open Gaza, and then moves on to resolve these. According to Gideon Levy—the main moral question is occupation—occupation was off the table both in the elections and now as a coalition is being formed. 

Hanin Zoabi painted another picture.  She said it was not enough to end occupation and the siege on Gaza—the need is to begin a conversation about 1948.  She detailed her party’s vision of a state for all its citizens—not a Jewish state of Israel nor a Muslim state of Palestine.  She said she represented not so much a solution but a “notion” a state where all can live as equals.  This requires new thinking, new structures, and a redefinition of the struggle she said.
Below are some articles that present various opinions and analysis on the outcome of the election.  As always, the opinions expressed in any attached articles do not necessarily represent those of the Friends Center or the Ramallah Friends Meeting, but have been chosen to present various points of views.
Read The Israeli elections: The ball is in our court by Jeff Halper

Read The Zoabis by Uri Avnery

Read: The Party Faithful by David Remnick http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/01/21/130121fa_fact_remnick?currentPage=all

Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza continue their struggle to resist and end Israeli military occupation, a prerequisite for any just solution to the current situation.  Read about the efforts to stop the building of new Israeli settlement housing in E1.      
Read How 20 Tents Rocked Israel by Jonathan Cook

Read Palestinians Evicted from E1 by Alistair Dawber  
Read UN Panel Says Israeli Settlement Policy Violates Law by Nick Cumming-Bruce and Isabel Kershner

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has become a major vehicle for the struggle against occupation.  The movement has made many gains in the international community.  You can read about some of these gains on the following websites.  Here are a few of the many helpful websites on BDS:








Read Africa’s Ruling Party endorses BDS by Jeremy Gordin

For more than 200 days, Samer el-Eissawi, has been on a hunger strike.  Samer, who is 33 years old and from Jerusalem, has been on hunger strike since 1 August 2012, in protest against being re-arrested and placed under administrative detention. His re-arrest took place after he was released in the context of the prisoners’ exchange between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli authorities in October 2011, under which 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.  

Read the press Release from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights for more details.  

Read Rally for Palestinian Prisoners in occupied West Bank by UFree Network

From the Friends International Center in Ramallah (FICR)

We were pleased to welcome to the Friends Center Dr. Max Carter, professor of Quaker Studies at Guilford College and a member of the FICR Steering Committee along with the January term Guilford students.  The group spent a day working in the Meetinghouse, Annex, and garden, after which we all enjoyed a meal together.  After lunch, the group heard a number of speakers: Jean Zaru, Clerk of Ramallah Friends Meeting, Sam Bahour, a businessperson and activist, and Fajr Harb from the Carter Center.  As weather permitted, the students were able to enjoy eating their suppers in the garden at the Friends during the following week.  
On Saturday, January 19, Max Carter organized a reception in the Conference Room for Guilford College graduates who had returned to Ramallah, so they could meet with the current Guilford students and with Jean Zaru and I. We talked about how the Ramallah Friends Meeting and the Friends Center could support them when they return from Guilford College and how they can support the Friends in Ramallah. Some of the Guilford grads felt that the Friends School should help the students at the Friends Schools to become more involved with Friends in Ramallah.  Others felt that they wanted to become more involved in the program and work of Friends in Ramallah.  We welcome all of them to become more involved with Ramallah Friends and the programs of the Friends Center.   

Guilford students and Guildford graduates living in Ramallah meet at the Friends Center
(Dr. Max Carter on the left)

On January 15 Rick McCutcheon and James Janzen arrived from Winnipeg to spend three weeks doing research on the BDS movement.  They traveled widely and heard Palestinian voices in Palestine and Israel and Jewish Israeli voices in Israel on this topic.  Rick is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Menno Simons College, a college of Canadian Mennonite University affiliated with the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.  An anthropologist by training, Rick and his wife Tamara lived in Baghdad for a year (2000-2001) as NGO country representatives.  As part of an International Quaker Working Party in 2002, Dr. McCutcheon helped to produce the book, When the Rain Returns: Toward Justice and Reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.  As part of his solidarity efforts Rick has traveled in the region several times and is currently in Ramallah doing research on the BDS movement.  Rick was opposed to sanctions on Iraq.  Now people are asking why he is supporting BDS here.  We look forward to reading his paper.  James was a student of Rick and is currently enrolling in a Master’s program in Canada.  He was doing some of his own research while he was here.

Rick Janzen (left) and Rick McCutcheon (right) with Ruth Hiller
(center) from New Profile

On Sunday, February 3, Rick led a Roundtable discussion with a group of 14 Palestinians on the topic: Working in Darkness: Tending to Light—A roundtable discussion exploring the dynamics of hope and creativity in a time of occupation.  The roundtable provided an opportunity for participants to share some of the most creative work they have been involved with while living under occupation.  The ideas shared by this diverse group were interesting and inspiring.  With permission from the participants, we will share a summary of the evening in a future newsletter.    

Rick McCutcheon (second from left) with the Roundtable participants

From the Ramallah Friends Meeting

We were pleased to have Max Carter and the Guilford students with us in Meeting for Worship on January 13 and 20.  The Ramallah Friends Meeting asked Max to give two lectures in the Meetinghouse: January 13 “Quakers and Education” and on January 14 “Quakerism”.  We filmed the lectures, but are having a hard time uploading them onto You Tube.  We will include the link in the next newsletter. 

Dr. Max Carter gives two lectures in the Ramallah Friends Meetinghouse

After Meeting for Worship and after Jean Zaru spoke to the Guildford students on January 20, Rana and Waleed Zaru invited the Guilford group and the members and attenders of the Ramallah Friends Meeting for a delicious lunch of Msakhsen in the Conference Room of the Annex.  Graham Leonard, a long-time member of the Ramallah Friends Meeting since the early 1950s was able to join the lunch. 

Waleed (left) and Rana (center) speak with Graham Leonard (right) 

Graham spent three months at the Ecumenical Institute of Tantur (near Bethlehem) working on a book about education in the Arab world.  We were pleased that he joined Meeting for Worship during those three months, even though it was a long way to travel on a Sunday mornings. 

Rick McCutcheon and James Janzen joined us in Meeting for Worship the two Sundays they were in Ramallah.  On February 3, Rick led the 22 people gathered for Meeting for Worship, including a group of students from Westmont College in California and their two professors, in a Worship Sharing. As shared by many, it was a meaningful experience for all who participated. 
In January we had a snow storm in Ramallah.  For two days snow blanketed the garden and sidewalks of the Ramallah Friends Meeting property. 

Snow in Ramallah in January.  The large fallen tree had to be removed by the Municipality.
 The sign was put into its place again by Max Carter.

From the Occupation: Monthly Action Focus

The Right to Enter (RTE) Campaign continues its focus on the responsibility of third states concerning the matter of Right to Enter/Re-Enter the oPt (occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza and West Bank, including East Jerusalem) via one of the entry ports Israel controls.  The Campaign continues to call on third states to assume their responsibility in enforcing human rights and international law in a situation of military occupation.  
For more information about the RTE Campaign see www.righttoenter.ps

The Campaign continues to collect the names of persons—Palestinians and Internationals—who have been denied entry at one of the ports Israel controls (Ben Gurion airport or one of the bridges across the Jordan River from Amman).  For various reasons, it has been difficult to know who is being denied entry and returned to his/her own country.  If you are a person who has been denied entry or know of someone who has been denied entry, please contact Anita Abdullah at anita_abdullah@hotmail.com.

Due to the fact that there is no clear policy for denial of entry, a person is allowed to enter via one of the ports controlled by Israel at the discretion of the Israeli immigration official.  The denial of entry is random.  People continue to be given a one-week visa, a new trend an alternative to being denied entry completely. This means the person needs to go to the Israeli Ministry of Interior and have this permit extended, which is often difficult to do, if not impossible.  

We continue to hear of individuals who have been denied entry to Palestine.  The Campaign continues to monitor the situation and note any problems in this regard. 

Movement and access continues to be an important issue the RTE Campaign continues to address.  
Recently, some have received a “Judea and Samaria” stamp on their passport.  We continue to assess the meaning of this stamp, however, so far we have not found the answers to why this stamp is being used.    
At the moment, the RTE Campaign is focusing on the cards that all who enter at the airport and via the King Hussein Bridge are receiving.  It is not known what this means or how these cards will be used by the Israeli authorities.  The card is a copy of the front page of each person’s passport and has a barcode at the bottom.  Some who have shown this card have been pulled aside and questioned by the Israeli authorities and others have not.  The Campaign is also continuing to explore what a “Judea and Samaria” stamp means for those who have been given this.  We will keep you informed.

Please donate so the work of FICR in Ramallah can continue.

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NOTE:  Please click on the FICR Newsletter Archives below to read previous newsletters that you may not have received and would like to read.  

Kathy Bergen
Program Coordinator

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