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Call For Participation In Welcome to Palestine Campaign April 15th-21st, 2012

27 March, 2012

Join Land Day events around the world including the global march to
Jerusalem (March 30th see http://www.gm2j.org ), and then join us (or at
least help) in the Welcome to Palestine Campaign


* Welcome to Palestine Campaign April 15th-21st, 2012*

Palestinian civil society organizations and peace and human rights
defenders and activists call on the international community to join us on
April 15th -21st for peace building in Palestine and to challenge the
Israeli siege of the occupied territories. Over 1500 people of conscience
from over 15 countries are scheduled to arrive for this year's WTP campaign.

The first Welcome to Palestine (WTP) Campaign in December 2010 brought 100
individuals. The second WTP in July 2011 saw hundreds of individuals
purchase airline tickets and attempt to board planes to Palestine.  Israel
sent a "black list" of 342 participants from the ages of 9 to 83 years old
to prevent them from boarding planes sparking huge protests in several
international airports. The Israeli military also turned the airport near
Tel Aviv into a military compound.  One hundred twenty-seven women and men
were arrested at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and then imprisoned for
several as they insisted on their right to visit Palestinian associations
and families.

Still, a lot of good resulted from this as well. As a result of legal
challenges, many European airlines not only fully refunded the tickets, but
also agreed not to repeat the incident.  Furthermore, the publicity shed
light on Israel's attempts to deny visits by internationals for
humanitarian peaceful support to millions of Palestinians living under
occupation. Lastly, despite these obstacles, many activists were in the end
able to join the activities carried out throughout the occupied areas
throughout the week of July 9th, 2011. The international community
recognizes the basic human right of Palestinians to receive visitors from
abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine
without harassment (see http://www.righttoenter.ps/ ).We pledged that where
Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join us openly and proudly. We
reject all attempts to isolate and silence us.  We are thus having larger
programs to challenge the siege.

With the help of the international community, we will achieve our goal of
peace and freedom and thus restore the values and principles that we share
as human beings. We believe in global popular resistance as a method to
achieve implementation of International Law and Human Rights, especially
where governments fail to act. We believe that every single one of us is a
change maker, and nobody has the right to deny access to suffering
populations. We call on more internationals to join the hundreds who
already booked their tickets and come help us begin to build a school, work
with farmers, and join the struggle to bring peace with justice.

Below are frequently asked questions about this campaign.

Email: media@palestinejn.org

Campaign websites: http://palestinejn.org   and http://bienvenuepalestine.com

Frequently Asked Questions: Welcome to Palestine April 15th-21st, 2012

*Who is traveling to Palestine the week of April 15th, 2012?*

Fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred human rights activists between the
ages of 9 and 90 years old from over 15 countries.

*Who invited them?*

Palestinian civil society organizations, peace and human rights defenders,
as well as activists on the ground made the call. They include the
following (list in formation):

Al-Awda Center, Beit Sahour

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre, www.alrowwad-acts.ps

The Alternative Information Center - AIC - www.alternativenews.org

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and RefugeeRights:

Bil'in Popular Resistance Committee www.bilin-village.org

Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil'in www.bilin-ffj.org

Handala Center - www.handalla-center.org

Holy Land Trust: www.holylandtrust.org

International Solidarity Movement: www.palsolidarity.org

Les Enfants, le Jeu et l'Education www.ejepal.org

Occupied Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative

Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People
www.PCR.PS<http://www.pcr.ps/ >

Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center (Wi'am) www.alaslah.org/

Palestine Justice Network www.palestinejn.org

Palestine Solidary Campaigns in many countries

Palestine Solidarity Project
WWW.palestinesolidarityproject.org<http://www.palestinesolidarityproject.org/ >

Popular Committees in different villages and towns

Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, www.sirajcenter.org

Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)

*What happened in previous Welcome to Palestine Campaign events?*

We had two previous campaign events: Christmas 2010, and July 2011.  In
2010, one hundred activists traveled to Palestine in the spirit of
Christmas to join local Palestinians for a week of activities. Together we
worked towards peace and justice as we believe Jesus would want us to do.
We spent time with refugees in camps, met with villagers facing home
demolitions, land confiscation and construction of the Apartheid Wall on
their land. We prayed, sang, and shared meals with the marginalized, with
children, women, and the elderly.

One July 9th, 2011, we made second call for internationals to join us on
the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling which declared
that the Apartheid Wall and colonial settlements are illegal. The goal of
the campaign in July was to have activists enter Palestine without having
to represent their intentions. Several airlines canceled reservations for
hundreds of Europeans based on lists they received from the Israeli
authorities. The Israeli military also turned the Airport into a military
compound. Israel sent a "black list" of 342 participants from the ages of 9
to 83 years old to prevent them from boarding planes thus sparking huge
protests in several international airports. One hundred twenty-seven women
and men were arrested at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and imprisoned for
several days as they insisted on their right to visit Palestinian
associations and families.

The event exposed Israel's behavior to the world. The events demonstrated
the following:

- Though the Israeli police and military kept filming the activists during
their arrest and provoked them on several occasion (for example, beating a
young woman in front of the other volunteers), they were not able to
produce one image of violence on the side of the Welcome to Palestine
campaign participants.

- Not only is there a siege on Gaza, but also a blockade on the other side
of Palestine. Israel has too many atrocities to hide there and they do not
want any solidarity with the Palestinians.

- The Israeli government and its supporters want to demoralize Palestinians
and expel them, not let internationals show them that they are not isolated
and that women and men of conscience are aware of their suffering and the
way it endangers the values of justice, international law and human rights
in the whole world.  But we persist and grow.

- Other good results happened despite Israeli government brutality.  For
example as a result of legal challenges, many European airlines not only
fully refunded the tickets but had to agree not to repeat such a mass
denial of boarding.  Another example is that the publicity shed light on
the attempts by Israel to deny visits by Internationals for humanitarian
support to millions of Palestinians living under occupation.  And many
Internationals activists did join us activities were carried out throughout
the occupied areas throughout the week (July 9-15) that included solidarity
and peace building. We learned and adapted and grow from dozens in the
first campaign to hundreds in the second campaign and now we expect over
1500 to arrive for this campaign.

*What do you believe? What do you hope to accomplish?*

We believe in the power of collective action to transform situations of
injustice to situations of justice and hence peace. Internationals have
joined Palestinians in our struggle for freedom and for peace over the past
few decades. Such joint action has shown its efficacy to bring hope and to
transform reality in eh previous actions as noted above.

Palestinians throughout historic Palestine and in exile believe in and work
for peace based upon justice and trust that with the help of the
international community we will achieve our peace and freedom and restore
the values and principles that we share as human beings. We believe in
popular resistance as a method to achieve implementation of International
Law and Human Rights. We believe that every single one of us is a change
maker, and nobody has the right to deny us the access to suffering

Palestinians suffer not only from the brutality of the occupation and
colonization, from the annexation of their lands, from the eviction of
whole families and house demolitions, but also from isolation, being
deprived of their freedom of movement and from open and honest visits by
the International community.

Humans from around the world will show solidarity with Palestinian popular
resistance by observing and obeying international law inactions of land
reclamation, education and peace building in a joyous and fraternal

*Will Israeli authorities allow us to enter?*

Israel, the occupying authority is obligated by international treaties not
to prevent Internationals entry at its border points.  Israeli authorities
do attempt to deny entry illegally under International laws and there are
numerous cases of denial of entry. Reciprocity between countries demands
that no national of countries with diplomatic relations with Israel should
be denied entry simply because that national wishes to visit Palestinians.
Entering Palestine through Ben Gurion airport by hundreds of people over 48
hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human
right of entering to Palestine by those who want to visit us.  See the
Right to Enter Campaign at http://www.righttoenter.ps/ . The choice of how
to behave at the border is certainly an individual choice done in context
of the ground effort to affect a change in Israeli illegitimate behavior.
Many groups did decide to challenge the undemocratic and arbitrary policy
of denial of entry.

Israel destroyed the only Palestinian airport, built with money from
Europe. As a result, we have no other option but to go through Israeli
security, even though we want to visit our Palestinian friends. We are
pacifists and we will have nothing dangerous in our bags. We call on our
elected representatives and our governments, to ensure that we shall be
normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben Gurion airport, as are
Israeli citizens when they come to our countries.

We denounce the blockade on Gaza, but Israel imposes a second blockade,
equally intolerable if not more deceitful, upon the Palestinian territories
of the West Bank, refusing people entry without reason, humiliating
travelers in a racist manner, often for hours, because of their
Arabic-sounding names or their plans to visit such places as Bethlehem, and
asking them questions that have nothing to do with security, like the names
of their grandparents, their religion, or their knowledge of the Arab

*What can be done before by those outside the country?*

Let all your friends and contacts know about this program and spread the
word. Also, you could also write to the media. If you are coming, you
should write a letter to your Foreign Ministry/State Department and/or
other officials (higher and lower) to inform them and demand that they
pressure Israel into allowing you and others to come. But those not coming
could also write letters. Below is a draft of letter:

Dear ------,

I will be traveling to Israel/Palestine on April 15 with hundreds of
Internationals from over 15 countries to participate in Peace building
efforts with Palestinians in places like Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and the
Jordan Valley. Israel had in the past spent hours interrogating
internationals including citizens of our country and many times have denied
them entry solely because they wish to work or visit with Palestinians in
the occupied territories. Diplomatic protocols demand reciprocity and
respect of our country's passport. Thus we ask you to contact Israeli
authorities and demand that our delegation be allowed through as Israeli
citizens are allowed entry to our country. I ask that you inform us of the
response you receive from Israeli authorities.

Your name and address

*What should local groups and activists do before the event?*

Local groups can either endorse or cosponsor the program or be listed as a
partner group. All groups and individuals locally should recruit volunteers
(we have a need for 100-200 volunteers). We have workshops for volunteers
to train them. Volunteers can help recruit local support, help with
logistics, and help with media work.

*What are guidelines/expectations from participants and volunteers?*

-Our call is unified for all Palestinians, not just the Palestinians in
WBGS or Jerusalem only, but inside the Green Line and elsewhere, especially
refugees.  There is a unity in the Palestinian cause which cannot be broken.

-The concern of the group is bigger than just the project and involves
repeated efforts to bring Palestinians and Internationals together to end
apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

-The planning committees reflect the Palestinian diversity whether
political, social, or geographical variety.  Each of us agrees to not try
to impose or influence the work in the direction of dominating it by one or
more political, social, or geographic entity. Dozens of organizations,
popular committees, and essentially all political factions support the
action and we agree to work together on this. Thus, our activities are to
carry Palestinian flags and no factional flags.

-No media messages or other communication will be permitted to promote one
political, social, or geographic group. All media communication must be
coordinated with the media committee.

-Mutual respect from all volunteers and activists are expected (both local
and international).  We need also to respect cultural and religious norms
and respect committee decisions.

-We adhere to non-violent approaches among ourselves and towards the
Israeli apartheid soldiers.  We also adhere to all other rules and
decisions by the organizers for the functions planned in the different

-We understand that these functions are peaceful forms of resistance and
other peace-building efforts. But we also understand that there is always
risk of uncivilized response from Israeli soldiers and settlers.

*What is the Cost for attendees from abroad?*

Internationals are responsible for cost of airline tickets (should
coordinate with local group coming as you may get even better discounts)
plus cost of food, lodging, transportation, and other logistics locally
(roughly 30 Euros/day). All logistics will be taken care of at our end
including pick-up at the airport. Lodging will be at family homes or in
hostels and NGOs and all arranged by local committees.

For more information, visit
http://www.BienvenuePalestine.comand<http://www.bienvenuepalestine.comand/ >

Email us at info@palestinejn.org

*Come join us, recruit others to join us, publicize widely, and reach out
through social media. You can also help organize delegation*

Call for Participation
http://www.palestinejn.org/en/component/content/article/1-latest-news/139-call-for-participation -

Welcome to Palestine Invitation

Welcome to palestine 2012 FAQ
http://www.palestinejn.org/en/component/content/article/1-latest-news/138-frequently-asked-questions-welcome-to-palestine-april-15th-21st-2012 -

Mazin Qumsiyeh


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