Mon Sep 8th, 2008 at 03:59:32 PM EST
"What we've done shows that people can do what governments should have done. If people stand up against injustice, we can truly be the conscience of the world." --Jeff Halper
This urgent message was received today from the Israel Committee Against House Demolition, the ICAHD. The ICAHD has worked for over two decades on behalf of human rights in the case of the plight of the Palestinian people, in particular, the Palestinian families who have had their homes demolished in the name of Zionist colonialism in the Palestinian territories.
The ICAHD-USA wrote this afternoon to CELEBRATE the historic voyage of 44 international activists to Gaza as part of the Free Gaza Movement (seen above), but, at the same time, to inform of DIFFICULT NEWS about the future of ICAHD: the European Union dropped its funding of the ICAHD, apparently because of Jeff Halper's involvement in the Free Gaza Movement. This is incredible news and wonderment as to whether the Israeli-US State Department propaganda is now influencing the European Union.
From the USA subsidiary of the ICAHD comes this message:
ICAHD Director Jeff Halper, our partner on numerous educational and Palestinian home rebuilding projects, was one of 44 activists from 17 nations who successfully sailed from Cyprus to Gaza aboard two fishing boats in defiance of Israel's blockade. The group was met by 40,000 "joyous Gazans." Jeff and the others brought with them 200 hearing aids; the main aim of the symbolic blockade-busting action was to publicize the plight of the people in this besieged territory. As the only Israeli Jew (an 84 year old Holocaust survivor, Judith Epstein was also present) on this historic challenge to Israel's blockade, Jeff was arrested and spent the night in an Israeli jail upon his return, where he tells us he was protected from threatening Israeli right-wingers by his Palestinian cellmates. He still faces possible indictment.In his latest communication, he describes how "reaching Gaza and leaving has created a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. It has ... forced the Israeli government to make a clear policy declaration that it is not occupying Gaza and therefore will not prevent the free movement of Palestinians in and out (at least by sea)."
Unfortunately, right before this historic boat ride, ICAHD was informed that they had lost their funding from the European Union, funding essential to their operations. Here is an excerpt from Jeff Halper's email regarding this action:
We have just heard that our request for re-funding has been rejected, in high probability because of pressure brought to bear by right-wing Israeli neo-cons who have campaigned obsessively against our funding while threatening publicly to close us down.
So we now face a real crisis.
That said, those who want us "gone" make a mistake in assuming that we will close if our funding is withdrawn. Our plan is to keep the office open and retain two staff; I will work on a voluntary basis until the financial picture improves.
We continue to be very grateful for the support we've received from the ICAHD-USA community; your contributions have been an important supplement to the EU funding, allowing us to launch the Constructing Peace Campaign. Now we are turning to you for help; we must work together to preserve ICAHD's position as a leader in the Israeli peace movement.
I promise you, no matter what, ICAHD will not be silenced.
We obviously want to help Jeff and ICAHD honor this critically important promise. As the board of ICAHD-USA, we have pledged to raise at least $30,000 in the next couple of months. Here is what we have planned.
First, we have invited Jeff to the States for a fall tour. As you know, Jeff's tours are one of the primary ways that we educate people in the U.S. and build support for our joint work. A tour at this critical time will both serve the educational mission of our two organizations and help raise desperately needed financial support for ICAHD's work.
Second, we are reaching out to you. Our plan is raise money with both this email appeal as well as a letter we are sending out through the regular mail. We will grant what we raise to ICAHD to support our joint educational and house building efforts. Individual board members have agreed to match what you give in response to this specific appeal dollar for dollar.
It is not our custom to send urgent appeals and we wish we didn't have to now. All of us appreciate how generous you have been with both your moral and financial support in the past. At this critical time, we're asking you to consider making another thoughtful and generous donation to get us to the $30,000 goal. If you have given ICAHD-USA $25 in the past, consider whether you might be able to double that amount. If you have given $50, or $100, or $250, please also consider doubling, increasing, or repeating that gift now. Whatever you can give, at whatever level, will be deeply appreciated. Keep in mind that your gift will have twice the punch, as we will match your giving dollar for dollar.
We, along with Jeff, promise you that ICAHD will not be silenced. Together, we will continue to be a loud and persistent voice for justice.
For a strong ICAHD supported by both a strong ICAHD-USA family and a strong will to carry on,
the ICAHD-USA Board
Mary Lou Smith
Anyone who can intercede here by writing their government or contributing to the ICAHD to subsidize the losses from EU funding is truly appreciated.