Summer 2017 NewsletterDownload the entire newsletter here
In this 50th year of the Israeli Occupation, CPWJ organized and collaborated to bring 10 educational programs this Spring, reaching more than 680 people within faith communities and universities throughout the Triangle. In February, CPWJ screened Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine at the Highland Memorial Church’s Third Tuesdays Forum in Raleigh. The documentary shows parallels between the civil rights struggles of African Americans and the liberation struggles of Palestinians [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] March programs were collaborative; First with an
ecumenical team of clergy and laity to bring the Rev Dr. Mitri Raheb to 3 Triangle towns. His vision of hope through social and educational programs in Bethlehem helps Palestinians cope with decades of Occupation with the belief that enables them not to despair. You can read more about Mitri here. Second, in partnership with our local advocates (Students for Justice in Palestine, UNC and Balance & Accuracy in Journalism), we hosted Stephen Zunes, Ph.D., who reviewed the drivers of US Foreign Policy towards Israel/Palestine. In April, we participated in interfaith programs with the Mennonite Church, and Palestinian American attorney and human rights advocated when Jonathan Kuttab spoke at three Triangle locations. Accompanying his presentation were speakers from the NC Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, who spoke of their advocacy efforts for equality of human rights. In mid-April, CPWJ sponsored Palestinian American scholar, Dr. Nahida Halaby Gordan, and artist Samia Halaby, who were forced to flee their Jafa (Jaffa) home in 1948! Their research and oral history accounts of the 1948 Nakba and aftermath for the Palestinians under Israeli Martial law revealed largely unknown reports to university
students in Raleigh. Matthew Hoh spoke to students at North Carolina State University about his experiences with Veterans for Peace, who in February marched in solidarity with Palestinians demonstrating nonviolently in their West Bank villages.
In May we began an online book club with 14 members of Good Shepherd UCC church, in Cary who are discussing Chosen: Reading the Bible amid the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. The author is noted Biblical
scholar, Water Brueggemann. We seek to support other communities in book studies and film screenings from our CPWJ library. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if your church or community group is interested in hosting
PRISONER OF HOPE: PEACE ADVOCATE MITRI RAHEBFROM BETHLEHEM VISITS NC
The entire article is authored by Susan Shinn Turner and originaly appeared on The Salisbury Post., a summary folows. On March 24, Lutheran Bishop Tim Smith introduced Raheb as keynote speaker at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh to an audience of more than 200. On March 25, Raheb joined an interfaith discussion at Church of the Reconciliation in Chapel Hill. Appearing with him on the panel were Sandra Korn, a representative of Jewish Voice for Peace; Faisal Khan, an American Muslim who is founder and director of the Carolina Peace Center (also a CPWJ Board Member); and the Rev. Mark Davidson, the church’s pastor, also a member of the Abrahamic Initiative for the Middle East.
You can read more of the entire article at this link:
Along with the Charles M. Jones Peace and Justice Committee of the Community Church of Chapel Hill, Unitarian Universalist, CPWJ cosponsored Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, founder of the Palestinian Natural History Museum located in Bethlehem, www.palestinenature.org. On June 28th, to a full house, in Chapel Hill, Dr. Qumsiyeh gave an update on life in Occupied Palestine. On June 29th at Raleigh’s Natural History Museum’s Science Café, to an equally well-attended event, he lectured on the situation of “Biodiversity and Conservation in Today’s Holy Land”.
See video here: http://naturalsciences.org
Another of CPWJ’s major initiatives is The Promised Land Museum: The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience. The idea for a “Promised Land Museum” about the Palestinian experience arose from my growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community and attending the Hebrew Academy of Washington, DC. We learned and internalized Jewish morality, to treat
others as we would want to be treated. Our community included Holocaust survivors and memories of many more who hadn’t survived. The lesson of the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews was not lost on us: We, the “Chosen People,” have to fight injustice wherever we see it.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]My awakening began on a trip to Israel that left me wondering: “If this was all empty land before, how did so many Palestinians become refugees?” It became clear that so much of what I was taught simply wasn’t true, that so much of what happened in the founding of Israel was an affront to Jewish values. We weren’t taught that we Jews expelled hundreds of thousands of peaceful Palestinian men, women, and children, destroying their villages and mining the debris.
How to correct such misinformation?
Jews feel a visceral connection to the Holy Land, so clearly expressed in our Passover calls for “Next year in Jerusalem.” But to expel Palestinian families from their homes is wholly inconsistent with our Jewish moral values. The Promised Land Museum endeavors to capture the attention of Jewish people and our Christian brothers and sisters to make them aware of the history and its inconsistency with our values; and to foster a peaceful repatriation of refugee Palestinian families to their homes in order to reclaim the peaceful life together we once shared.
Steven Feldman, MD, PhD
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dr. Feldman is a board member of the Coalition for Peace with Justice in Durham, NC and is creator and director of CPWJ’s Promised Land Museum of the Palestinian Experience http://promisedlandmuseum.org/. A grand opening reception was held at the National Press Club March 18, 2016. The museum is available for presentation to interested synagogues, churches, mosques or other community venues. http://www.prnewswire.com/. [/read]
Contact your congressional representatives and the White House. US House of Representatives & Senate Switchboard Operator: (202) 224-3121. If peace is to prevail, point out that a just and sustainable solution requires freedom, equality, security for all. Here are some talking points for written or telephone contacts.
1. The Occupation and colonization of Palestine must end
2. Human rights violations need to be stopped, including freedom of expression restrictions, unfair trials, detention of children, limiting movement, destruction of property, and diversion of water.
3. Palestinians can reclaim their land so that they are guaranteed a viable future and an equitable allocation of resources.
4. Any US military and security force aid to a unit committing human rights violations must be terminated as well as any other funds that sustain the decades-long occupation.
This spring’s activities included CPWJ members attending a Jewish Voice for the Peace-sponsored rally to show support for 1500 or more Palestinian hunger strikers jailed in Israel. The vigil in downtown Durham was held May 15, marking the 69th anniversary of the Nakba — or the “Catastrophe” when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled at gunpoint from their land and homes when the state of Israel was created.
Over 60 people of different ages and faith backgrounds turned out for the event. The vigil opened with a reading of the words of Marwan Bargouti, a prisoner and the strike leader who described harsh conditions in the prisons and detailed the strikers’ demands. A local representative from the Inside/ Outside Alliance then described the harsh realities faced by prisoners in Durham and how the two groups suffer similar repression.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] This was followed by poetry by local Palestinian poets, JVP members, and others, and then we all drank the salt water challenge together. Muslim, Jewish and Christian community members shared their reflections on the strike and Palestinian liberation, and we closed at dusk by lighting candles and sharing key facts about the Nakba and its continuing impact on Palestinians. As the event wound down, some of the Muslim participants prayed Maghrib together. “We, a group of inter-faith citizens from the Triangle area of North Carolina, express our deep respect and solidarity with you who have embarked on a collective hunger strike to demand your basic rights. We draw inspiration from your courage and determination, as from past hunger strikers, such as Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, Alice Paul, and other outstanding figures who also confronted their oppressors to liberate themselves and others. We stand with you in the struggle for freedom, equality, and justice, until the fall of apartheid.”[/read]
December 2016 NewsletterDownload the entire newsletter here
2016 has been a very busy year for us at The Coalition for Peace with Justice. We have partnered with people and groups of all backgrounds, continuing to diversify our reach. In addition to our long-standing supporters, we have made a concerted effort to target students, the local universities, and churches throughout our area It all began in February with guest speakers Maya Wind and Eran Efrati, this was the first of five programs that occurred in the first half of the year. In May, we hosted Dr. Steve Feldman talking at Peace Covenant Church in Durham concerning his project “Promised Land Museum” about the Palestinian experience, which can be found at www.promisedlandmuseum.org. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] During the summer, our activities tend to slow down, but in October we picked right back up, co-hosting two events. The first was held at Duke University, “A View Behind the Wall: Personal Observations from Palestine” was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East, and Coalition for Peace with Justice. Later in the month we co-hosted “Linking Liberation Struggles” at North Carolina Central University (a historically African-American University in Durham) with The Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East as well. In November, award-winning author Ben Ehrenreich came to speak, in both Chapel Hill and NC State University. Ben’s most recent book “The Way to the Spring” was published this past summer. While here, Ben spoke to several groups in the Triangle, and also in Greensboro and Charlotte.[/read]
CPWJ would like to spotlight another agency seeking justice. The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is the data-driven project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee. In 2015 and 2016, CPWJ brought representatives from this human rights campaign to audiences in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Greensboro The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and envisions a world where all children attain rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards. Currently, Jewish Children who come in contact with the law are not put in this military court system but are afforded full legal protections under Israeli civil courts, which is not the same series of events Palestinian children encounter. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]The campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by organizing and supporting an extensive network of people demanding immediate protections for Palestinian children held in Israeli military detention where ill-treatment and torture are widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.
It is a project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.
For more information, visit www.nowaytotreatachild.org and you can find them on Facebook & Twitter.[/read]
We have several excellent programs already on the calendar for 2017, marking the 50th anniversary of the Occupation, and the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. We will be hosting events in June and November marking these significant points in the history of the Palestinian people. In March, we will be co-hosting Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb at an event titled “Dare to Dream: Ecumenical Educational Conference on Peace and Justice in the Middle East”. This two-day event will occur in both Chapel Hill and Durham.
We look forward to building more coalitions, strengthening our partners to be more effective and reach more people. At CPWJ, we bring information from non-mainstream media to the public in a timely manner. We will continue to work with peace builders like the Palestinians, Israelis, Americans and the international community throughout the world. Please make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, our website, and get our emails. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to another year of advocating for freedom and equal rights to end Occupation and colonization
March 2016 NewsletterDownload the entire newsletter here
On Friday, March 18, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. a reception and exhibition at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., will mark the grand opening of the online museum PromisedLandMuseum.org: The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience. Dr. Steve Feldman will be welcoming press and other visitors at the exhibit in the Winners Room of the National Press Club.A project of the Coalition for Peace with Justice, the museum complements the common understanding of the founding of Israel with first-hand resources describing how Palestinian families came to be expelled from their homes and villages. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience takes what had been two narratives—separate Israeli and Palestinian narratives—to help people see one consistent story of how a state run by Jews was formed in a land where non-Jewish people were the majority.
The exhibition will include major highlights from the more extensive collection of online resources. Feldman, director, and creator of the museum says that the museum fills gaps in his Jewish American education and upbringing. “Jewish morality is ingrained in us. American Jews have been on the front lines of anti-discrimination efforts. The museum, which presents Jewish sources and a Jewish perspective largely, documents our role in making and keeping Palestinian families refugees from their homes, actions inconsistent with our Jewish values.”
The museum presents first-hand materials supplementing available resources from Jewish Voice for Peace’s Facing the Nakba Project and from other organizations that offer educational materials and programs about the Nakba from a Palestinian perspective. The Nakba was the day when Palestinians were driven from their home[/read]
For over a decade, the Coalition for Peace with Justice (CPWJ) has been the strong, persistent voice that has worked for peace for both Palestinians and Israelis in Israel/Palestine. Focusing on education, advocacy, and direct support, CPWJ is a coalition of activists and concerned citizens who work for an end to the military occupation of Palestine with the goal of seeing a just and sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
The Coalition’s programs inform audiences about the struggles of Palestinians living under military occupation in Palestine that Western media does not adequately cover. Through high-quality informational programs and events, dissemination of educational materials, and by acting as an ongoing media and event monitor, we can provide timely, advocacy-oriented responses to current and develop Palestinian social justice issues.
CPWJ’s work encourages NC citizens to engage in advocacy to call for change in U.S. foreign policy that will foster a just peace in the region. We foster media, political and social advocacy on behalf of Palestinians by providing ready access to information not available through mainstream sources.
Unique to CPWJ’s work is maintaining and nurturing close associations with Israeli and Palestinian peace-building and human rights organizations in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. We support 10 Palestinian and Israeli organizations that seek to end the occupation of Palestine through nonviolent resistance. These connections inform our actions and allow us to provide solidarity and direct financial support for the underserved and oppressed Palestinian communities.
As we partner together to raise our concerns and speak for marginalized Palestinians, we are able to instill hope in the lives of thousands for a better tomorrow. Your support of CPWJ makes a difference![/read]
Carol Durham is dedicated to making a difference in Palestine through her volunteer work with CPWJ. She has “always been drawn to the Middle East and the history of the early Christian Church.” Her former pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana helped add a new dimension to that interest.
“He was very involved in the Palestinian issue and ‘got me radicalized.’ The depth of the injustice to Palestinians speaks to me,” Carol explained. She has traveled to Israel-Palestine three times in 12 years. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
Motivated by “curiosity over many years,” Carol has done extensive international travel and visited a number of countries including Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Malaysia. “It’s kept me aware of what’s going on in the places where people are hurting,” she said.
Carol moved to Durham four years ago, where she now lives near two of her three adult children. “I wanted to keep my involvement with the issue and was looking for a church home.” She went to some Palestinian-support events at Church of the Reconciliation and eventually settled on United Church of Chapel Hill. “Rick and Jill Edens are very committed to the support of Palestinians,” she says of the pastor and his wife.
Those connections led Carol to the Coalition for Peace with Justice. Having volunteered “with non-profits most of my life,” the retired psychology therapist understands “stuffing envelopes” and the essential tasks of staging successful events. She serves on the Education Committee, responsible for planning CPWJ’s programming and fund-raising efforts. Carol is one of many who contributes to CPWJ through giving of their time and financial support.
You can join Carol in making a lasting investment in peace with justice in Israel-Palestine by becoming a monthly donor today. Visit peace-with-justice.org/donate to make your gift.[/read]
Eran Efrati, a former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier, and Maya Wind, a conscientious objector who refused to serve in the IDF, relayed their thought-provoking experiences to an audience at Meredith College, Raleigh, NC on February 22, 2016. Mr. Efrati is presently executive director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions USA and Ms. Wind is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
Efrati was ordered by his IDF commander to knock on the door of a Palestinian home in a small village in the West Bank and tell the occupants they had 15 minutes to gather their belongings before their house was razed. The woman at the door screamed and cried, “No, you have the wrong house!” In a matter of minutes, the dwelling was leveled and those who once knew it as home were now homeless.
Efrati’s story didn’t end there. An hour later his commander ordered him to return to the village to knock on the door of a second home and issue the same 15-minute warning. The wrong house had been destroyed on the first visit to the village. As the ‘right’ home was being razed, he watched distraught as a young girl from the first home picked through the rubble to find one of her toys. Today the entire village is gone. It is now the site of an Israeli settlement.
This experience, and others where he witnessed the abuse of Palestinians by the IDF were pivotal moments of transformation in Efrati’s life.
Efrati was compelled to tell others about the abuses he witnessed. Upon discharge from the IDF, he joined the Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, where he served as a chief researcher. Efrati collected testimonies of hundreds of former combatants detailing the institutionalized abuse of Palestinians by Israeli Defense Forces.
Wind, like Efrati, described a life-changing moment that began her journey to become a supporter of Palestinian rights. At age 15, having never before spoken with a Palestinian, she met a Palestinian girl who told her about the midnight raid of her home by the IDF–a frequent event in the West Bank–and the abuse her father suffered during the raid. During that incursion, her father was taken away. She learned later her father died in an Israeli prison.
This experience puts Wind on a path to question everything about how Israel was treating Palestinians. She connected with other activists and began to participate in protests at the separation wall in Bil’in where the villagers’ land had been confiscated and civilians were attacked by the IDF without any security justification.
All Israelis face mandatory military conscription at age 18. Wind connected with other Israeli Jewish youth and began a national campaign to openly declare their refusal to join the Israeli military. “By the time I was drafted, I had made up my mind that the Israeli military was an occupying force and that I would not enlist” Wind noted.
“The date of my draft was a moment of truth,” Wind asserted. Recruits were told to line up. “I had prepared so long for this day but I was absolutely terrified.” She refused to fall in line. The officer told her, “If you disobey this order you are going to jail.” Wind replied, “Yes, I know. This is what I came to do.” After a series of five trials, Wind served time in military prison. She was eventually released after she, like other ‘refuseniks’, was determined mentally incompetent to serve in the military.
Efrati also detailed the complicity of Israel in the global militarization of police forces. He recounted examples of the IDF training U.S. police forces in military-style tactics for use in riot and crowd control. Wind ended their presentation by citing examples of the IDF testing new weaponry in Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014.[/read]
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)recently completed its 189th rebuild of a Palestinian residence. ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action group based in Israel originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territory. ICAHD’s activities have grown to extend to three interrelated spheres: resistance and protest actions in the Occupied Palestine Territory; efforts to bring the reality of the Occupation to Israeli society; and mobilizing the international community for a just peace. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
Recently during two weeks of building in 40 degrees (104 F) heat, 20 international activists bolstered by their Palestinian and Israeli compatriots and a team of professional Palestinian builders gave rise to a new 4-room home. They rebuilt the home of the Fhadad family who was previously forced by Israeli authorities to demolish their own home.
A festive dedication ceremony was held. Residents of the West Bank town of Anata (including the mayor), Palestinian activists from around the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli activists and a large delegation of Go Palestine kids – young Palestinians from around the world who spend the summer in Palestine – gathered to hear speeches, plant fruit trees in the family garden, dance the Dabka, partake in a delicious Palestinian meal and help the family move their furniture in. The family slept in their new house that night.
ICAHD is one of 10 Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilding organizations, all dedicated to nonviolent resistance to the military occupation of Palestine, that your gifts to CPWJ help support.[/read]
November 2014 NewsletterDownload the entire newsletter here
As a Jewish American, Dr. Steve Feldman grew up collecting coins to support planting trees in Israel. His lifetime interest in the Holy Land eventually led him to CPWJ. Steve decided to become involved with CPWJ four years ago after a Winston-Salem interfaith group he was involved with hosted one of the many speakers CPWJ brings to North Carolina every year.
Steve grew up in a Jewish community learning that Israel could do no wrong but his understanding evolved. “I came to believe that Palestinian families deserve peace and justice just as much—novmore, no less—than Israeli families or anyone else. Judaism taught me that all people should be treated as equal. The Holocaust taught me that it is wrong to mistreat people—not just Jewish people,” he said. “CPWJ is working to help end the mistreatment of Palestinian families, and nothing could be more consistent with Jewish morality. I felt the need to do something, and CPWJ was doing something,” he added.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] Not long after that, Steve accepted an invitation to serve on CPWJ’s Board of Directors. “It was an opportunity to have more involvement in deciding what we could do to help promote peace and justice for both Palestinian and Israeli families. I was excited to help with that,” he said. CPWJ recently began a sustaining donor campaign, “Sustain Hope for Palestine.” Steve was one of the first to sign up. “Non-profits need financial stability as a foundation for successfully achieving their aims. Non-profits also need folks who will step up and be an example. Being a sustaining donor helps the organization’s bottom line directly and, by demonstrating a commitment to the organization, indirectly encourages donations from others.” Make a lasting investment in peace with justice in Israel-Palestine by becoming a monthly donor today.
The Coalition for Peace with Justice mission is unique. There are many organizations in the U.S. that support an end to the occupation through education and activism. Many raise funds for one peacebuilding
organization in Israel/Palestine. CPWJ goes beyond offering direct financial support for one or two organizations. Your gifts to CPWJ provide financial support to 10 different Palestinian and Israeli organizations.
During the shelling of Gaza this past summer, Al Ahli Arab Hospital, one of the organizations CPWJ supports, issued an urgent appeal for financial help. CPWJ heard the call and responded. Through the generous support of donors, we received over $2,000 for Al Ahli to aid their heroic efforts in providing treatment for thousands of burned, wounded and traumatized Palestinians.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]Al Ahli Arab Hospital is an 80-bed facility located in Gaza City. A mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, it offers high-quality medical care without prejudice to any religious or ethnic community and irrespective of social class, gender or political affiliation. While providing surgical and medical treatment, Al Ahli provides free breast cancer screening, operates a center for elderly women, and runs a mobile unit with free medical care and food for people from surrounding towns and villages.
CPWJ provides funds for these organizations from designated and undesignated tax-deductible contributions.
Part of every gift made to CPWJ provides support for Al Ahli and nine other organizations:
• Al-Rowwad Theatre and Cultural Center initiates artistic programs, known as “Beautiful Acts of
Resistance” to provide creative alternatives to violence.
• Badil defends and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees & internally displaced Palestinians.
• Bright Stars of Bethlehem focuses on holistic community building to support civic, cultural,
psychosocial, artistic and educational programs.
• Hope Flowers School excels in education based on peace and democratic values, and in specific,
programs for children who have learning disabilities or are traumatized by conflict.
• ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) works non-violently and provides a framework
for understanding all aspects of Israel’s Occupation and control of Palestinians. ICAHD resists the
Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses and rebuilds Palestinian homes.
• Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center brings together the Palestinian Christian
community and advocates internationally and nationally to bring justice for all people in the Holy
• Shufat Community Center offers programs in health and education for youth and the disabled at
Shufat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem.
• Tent of Nations builds bridges of understanding and peace through educational programs that
respect the environment and cultivate Palestinian land under threat of confiscation.
• Wi`am empowers the community and promotes peaceful alternatives to conflict within families,
the community and beyond.
Advocacy is a stated goal of CPWJ. CPWJ has a long history of regular meetings with elected officials and staff in order to bring awareness of the changing realities in the region. In October, Mary Lou Leiser Smith, CPWJ founder, and Dee Froeber, managing director, met with Rep. David Price, (D) 14th District.
Smith and Froeber discussed two main issues from their June travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank. Smith expressed appreciation for Price’s efforts to prevent a demolition on the property of Hope Flowers School, one of CPWJ’s peacebuilding organizations in Bethlehem, Palestine. She went on to point out Israeli land grabs and subsequent settlement expansion in the area near the school, all of which are illegal under international law.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]Referring to a recent J Street open letter to Pres. Obama, Smith, and Froeber requested that Rep. Price use his influence to move the White House to call Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories illegal and to determine definitive actions in American policy that would force Israel to be accountable for its illegal actions.
Froeber briefed Rep. Price and presented documentation (see an article, “The Detention of Palestinian Children”), detailing the arrest and abuse of Palestinian minors. There are approximately 700 children under the age of 18 who are prosecuted in military court each year with 8,000 being detained since the year 2000. Defense of Children International, Military Court Watch, and Addameer have documented the frequent physical and psychological torture, including sexual abuse and threats of sexual abuse, of these children.
Froeber and Smith asked Rep. Price to investigate this grave abuse of human rights, suggest actions that can be taken, and to continue a dialogue with CPWJ about this issue.[/read]
Approximately 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army. The most common charge levied against children is throwing stones, a crime that is punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison. Since 2000, more than 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained.
In practice before the military court system, there are no special interrogation procedures for children detained by the Israeli military, nor are there provisions for an attorney or even a family member to be present when a child is questioned. The majority of children report being subjected to ill-treatment and having forced confessions extracted from them during interrogations. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] Forms of ill-treatment used by the Israeli soldiers during a child’s arrest and interrogation usually include slapping, beating, kicking and violent pushing. Palestinian children are also routinely verbally abused. Despite recommendations by the UN Committee against Torture in May 2009 that the interrogations should be video recorded, no provisions to this effect have yet been enacted. Many Palestinian children even serve time in the same Israeli prisons and detention facilities as adults. Military Order 1644, issued on 29 July 2009, established a separate military court for Palestinian children and ended 42 years of trying children as young as 12 years of age in the same courts as adults. However, the order fails to correct many of the fair trial deficiencies in the military courts relating to children (including insufficient provisions regarding qualifications for the judges, no added protections during interrogations, and discretionary language granting the prosecutor broad authority to suspend protections for children), which indicate that Military Order 1644 will do little to improve the protection of Palestinian children before the Israeli military legal system.
While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a “child” as “every human being below the age of eighteen years”, according to Israeli military order 132, Palestinian children age 16 and older were previously tried and sentenced by Israeli military courts as adults. By comparison, juvenile legislation defines Israeli children as age 18 or younger.
What’s more, a Palestinian child’s sentence is decided on the basis of the child’s age at the
time of sentencing, and not at the time when the alleged offense was committed. Thus, a child who is accused of committing an offense when he or she is 15 will, therefore, be punished
as an adult if he or she has a birthday while awaiting sentencing.
On 27 September 2011, the OC Central Command signed an amendment to raise the age of Palestinian minors in the military court system from 16 to 18 years. Another stipulation of the amendment is a requirement to immediately notify the child’s parents of his or her arrest and interrogation. However, the amendment gives interrogators many openings to avoid the requirement. Furthermore, the amendment requires interrogators to inform minors of their right to an attorney but states that they will only notify an attorney “whose particulars were provided by the minor,” which is highly unlikely to occur.
An additional provision refers to the length of time that has passed since an offense was committed. Previously, if the offense was committee two or more years earlier, the child could not be prosecuted; the new amendment reduces this period to one year. However, the reduced period is negated in instances of “security offenses,” which include some of the most common charges against Palestinian youths, such as stone-throwing and participating in demonstrations. Lastly, despite the minority age being raised to 18, the amendment states that minors over the age of 16 may still be held in detention with adults, which is contradictory to the requirements of international law.
CPWJ took a major step forward in March when Davis “Dee” Froeber became its first managing director. He has an imposing portfolio: program development, advocacy, fundraising and nonprofit management. And he brings to the role an extensive background in the world of citizen diplomacy and international relations.
Dee spent the month of June in Palestine and Israel, meeting with more than 25 organizations that are dedicated to non-violent resistance to the Occupation. Among them were the leaders of eight organizations that receive financial support from CPWJ. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]
“I’ve had a keen interest in the Middle East and Israel/Palestine for many years,” Dee said. “I’m impressed with CPWJ’s legacy of educating the public about the Nakba of 1948 and the plight of Palestinians, as well as its financial support of organizations in Israel/Palestine that use non-violent resistance to end the Occupation.”
Dee describes his month in Palestine and Israel as “an extremely visceral experience. I heard firsthand from Palestinians the frustration, anger, humiliation, and despair they experience daily, living under military occupation. But I also have vivid memories of their stories of resilience and hope for a better future. It was a life-changing experience.”
He said he believes that CPWJ can increase its impact by attracting more volunteers and financial support as it continues to work with other organizations that share its goals. “We need to reach a wider audience with high-quality educational programs,” he said, “and increase our advocacy work with elected officials. The Board and I are developing a strategic plan that will help take CPWJ to the next level.” A native of North Carolina, Dee majored in religion at Campbell University and earned a Master of Divinity degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He did postgraduate work at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication in Portland, Ore., and at North Carolina State University. Areas of focus have included comparative religion, Islam, intercultural communication, interfaith dialogue, and a summer in Shanghai studying Chinese culture and language. This September he earned a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. Dee served as Minister to Internationals at Forest Hills Baptist Church (FHBC) in Raleigh from 1981 to 2010.
He launched programs and services that eventually attracted up to 1,500 internationals weekly from some 70 countries. Programs and services for internationals that Dee developed at the church ranged from weekend retreats and social events to sponsorship of refugees and asylum seekers, cross-cultural counseling, and interfaith dialogue.
He recruited and trained an annual pool of 75 volunteers to staff them. Responding to post-9/11 Islamophobia, Dee established people-to-people exchanges between FHBC and the Islamic Center of Raleigh. In cooperation with the International Visitors Council and U.S. State Department, he hosted senior religious and political leaders from North Africa and the Middle East for dialogues on religion-state relations and religious pluralism/freedom in American society. Dee was instrumental in founding pan-African, Chinese and Iranian churches, sponsored by FHBC.
Dee also supervised Chinese (P.R.C.), Taiwanese and Iranian language schools at the church for 900 children. He hosted visits to the schools by diplomatic staff from the People’s Republic of China’s U.S. embassy and the Taipei (Taiwan) Economic and Cultural Office. Other highlights of Dee’s career include organizing Sino-U.S. dialogues on interfaith and religion-state relations.
At the request of China’s ambassador to the U.S., he hosted a 2008 U.S. tour of China’s multifaith leaders meeting with U.S multi-faith leaders, members of Congress, the State Department officials, and former President Jimmy Carter. The following year, China’s minister of religious affairs invited him to bring a delegation of U.S.
multi-faith leaders to China for dialogue. In 2010 Dee founded the Global Institute for Religious and Cultural Diplomacy. His leadership led to the first U.S. summit of Chinese and U.S. Protestant leaders on Christianity in China and Sino-U.S. Christian relations. Dee’s background in international relations and nonprofit leadership is a good fit for CPWJ.
“CPWJ has untapped potential to influence public opinion and impact the discourse on peace with justice in Israel/Palestine,” Dee said, “and I’m excited to be part of that.”
Submitted by Barbara Ryan