With the knowledge of the history of the conflict and current oppression of the Palestinian people, CAP tries to inform itself and others of what is at stake in the Middle East.

Past Activities

In 1991 CAP members alerted people to the visit of Professor Alfred Lilienthal, a famous US-Jewish spokesperson, lecturing about his well known book, “ What Price Israel?”. We also became acquainted with a university professor known for Arab studies, Roberto Marin, at the University of Costa Rica, who is a lifetime Arab supporter.

9/11, 2001

When 9/11 occurred in 2001, the Peace Center joined forces with the International League of Women for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Costa Rican Committee for Human Rights (CODEHU) to participate in a March for Peace in the Plaza de la Democracy on October 11. Afterward they proceeded to the Legislative Assembly and the Presidential House. Although worldwide efforts emphasized a thoughtful response to what was a heinous crime, not an act of war, the West’s response was war with Afghanistan.

War with Iraq

When war with Iraq was looming in 2003, CAP sponsored a huge candlelight vigil in the Plaza de la Cultura in the very center of San Jose on Feb.15, 2003, uniting our plea for peace with 11,000,000 people around the globe. Since then we have observed anniversaries of 9/11 with letters to the editor of local papers, and have demonstrated in front of the United States Embassy. On one anniversary we were again in the Plaza de la Cultura to protest the ongoing occupation and building of US military bases in Iraq when Isabel Macdonald exhibited photos of the drastic effects of Depleted Uranium, DU, on children in Iraq.

Visiting Professor Ron Beier

To update ourselves and the public on the continual tension between occupied Palestinians and Israelis, in January of 2005 CAP sponsored a talk by Professor Ron Beier of Jewish origin, whose parents escaped during the Holocaust. He was visiting from New York City, where he writes on subjects related to the Middle East from a pro-Palestine perspective.

CAP to Costarican Foreign Ministry

In 2006, acknowledging that there will be no peace in the Middle East until the problem of Israel-Palestine is addressed, four CAP members were able to get a meeting with the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Antonio Alarcon Zamora. There we put forth our reasons for Costa Rica to support peaceful negotiations in favor of the Palestinians at the United Nations and offered to provide input in any future deliberations.

Group of Solidarity at CAP

After this, CAP started the group of solidarity for peace in the Middle East. We received genuine testimony from a Palestinian immigrant to Costa Rica, Dr. Abdulfatah Sasa. Dr. Sasa is living and practicing here. His family lost everything after the l967 war and so chose to leave at that time. They were issued bonds, but they remain nothing but pieces of paper to this day. In a cultural evening at CAP celebrating Arabic food and reflections about peace, Dr. Sasa’s wife, Flora, read beautiful poetry by Palestinian poets longing for their homes and former lives, while his daughter, Wajiha, treated us to an abundance of savoury dishes. Since then we have been invited by Dr. Sasa to the annual celebration of the closing of Ramadan at the Costa Rican Islamic Center which he heads in Costa Rica.

Women in Black

Answering a worldwide call in 2006 by Women in Black at www.womeninblack.org, CAP invited men and women to join us in a demonstration of solidarity with the occupied people of Palestine in the Plaza de la Cultura. As we demonstrated, cars passing by honked in agreement and some passersby stopped to ask what we were doing there. That gave us a chance to inform them of the issues.

Women in Black was started by committed Israeli women who meet every Friday in a public place in Israel and have been doing so ever since l988 to protest the occupation. Since l990 their public protest has spread throughout Israel to include child participants.

Since its inception, Women in Black has expanded to include other
issues and has spread around the world to many countries, including Argentina and Uruguay. Their goals have expanded to protest any manifestations of violence, militarism, and war. Last year they held their annual meeting in Columbia.

See the impressive expansion of Women in Black below.

History of the Women in Black
The idea spread quickly and spontaneously to other places in Israel.  It was a simple form of protest that women could do easily.  We didn’t have to get to the big city, we could bring our children, there was no chanting or marching, and the medium was the message.  Within months, vigils sprang up throughout Israel.
Several months after the first Women in Black vigil in Israel, “solidarity vigils” began in other countries: Initial reports came from the United States and Canada, and these later spread to Europe and Australia.  Some vigils were primarily Jewish, while in other cities, the groups were mixed Jewish and Palestinian.

Women in Black Groups Form Worldwide
Around 1990, Women in Black vigils took off with a life of their own.  They formed in many countries, and many of these had nothing to do with the Israeli occupation.  In Italy, Women in Black protest a range of issues, from the Israeli occupation to the violence of the Mafia and other organized crime.  In Germany, Women in Black have protested neo-Nazism, racism against migrant workers, and nuclear arms.  Women in Black in Belgrade and Zagreb set a profound example of interethnic cooperation that was an inspiration to their countrywomen and men.  And, in India, Women in Black hold vigils that call for an end to the ill treatment of women by religious fundamentalists.
Women in Black has become a movement of women of conscience of all denominations and nationalities who hold vigils to protest violence in their part of the world: war, interethnic conflict, militarism, the arms industry, racism, neo-Nazism, violence against women, violence in the neighborhoods, etc. Each vigil is autonomous, setting its own policy and guidelines, though in all the vigils the women dress in black, symbolizing the tragedy of the victims of violence.  What unites us all is our commitment to justice and a world free of violence.
In 1991, the movement of Women in Black in Israel won the Aachen Peace Prize and, in 1994, the peace award of the city of San Giovanni d’Asso in Italy.  In 2001, the international movement of Women in Black was awarded the Millennium Peace Prize for Women, given by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Israeli Peace Activist Visits

A visit by an Israeli peace activitist, Sharon Komosh, gave one CAP member the opportunity to get a venue at Democrats Abroad for her to speak about the plight of the Palestinian people. This was a huge step forward as many Americans and Canadians living here never heard a differing point of view. Sharon’s unique perspective, at that time, was for a one state solution, considering that the division of areas for Palestinians in a two state solution, would be entirely too small, leading to more hardships. On the other hand, a one state solution would have to ensure equality for Israelis and Palestinians.

Our own take is that a one state solution is a dream which has died in the real world. As of this writing, the Fatah and Hamas factions have signed a unity pact and it is expected that the Palestinians will declare statehood for themselves in September 2011 at the UN. This is to bypass the official peace process that has endured for 20 years, every year becoming worse for the Palestinians.

Slide show from Palestine

In 2008 CAP had a visit from Father Jose Mulligan who lives in Nicaragua. He brought with him a slide show of his stay in Palestine which gave a graphic idea of the appalling conditions there. Father Mulligan was a recent participant of the Michigan Peace Team’s work in
Palestine supporting human rights (2007, 2008). The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words became compelling as onlookers saw for themselves the dire life of Palestinians under occupation.

Book Presentation Discussed

During that year we also sponsored an exposition of pictures and a talk by an Iranian friend, Sra. Manzar Foorhan, who months earlier had been in Palestine. Sra. Foorhan wrote a book about Palestinian migrants in Central America.

Her talk followed a talk given to students at the University of Costa Rica on May 16. to commemorate 60 years of NAKBA, the Palestinian Holocaust or catastrophe. Speakers were Roberto Marin, University of Costa Rica; Isabel Macdonald, Quaker Peace Center; and Dr. Abdulfatah Sasa, Palestine Community in Costa Rica.

Reaction to Grave Attack on Gaza, 2008

When the Israelis attacked the people of Gaza in Dec.2008, Centro de Amigos para la Paz joined 100 people who marched by the US Embassy in Pavas to protest US support for Israel. CAP sent a strong letter to then President Oscar Arias asking him to start the necessary proceedures to condemn Israel for war crimes against civilian Palestinians which have taken place for 60 years. In the 2008 attack on Gaza alone, 1400 Palestinians were killed, tragically including more than 400 children.

To this day, Israel refuses to accept the findings of the Goldstone Report, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission, which strongly condemns it for the attack. See www.goldstone_report.org.

Surprising Change

That same year, a large step forward in relations with the Arab world was made when Costa Rica, under President Arias, took the unusual step of moving its embassy from Jersualem to Tel Aviv. A secondary effect was opening up relations with several Arab countries. When El Salvador followed suit, it became unanimous among all the countries of the world to recognize Jerusalem as a city in dispute and not as an Israeli stronghold.

Comments in the daily La Nacion by Jewish protesters claimed that the move was a mistake and that Costa Rica had sided with “the terrorists.”

CAP answers Invitation to Celebrate Anniversary of the Holocaust, 2009

A strongly worded answer went out from CAP to the AMISRAEL invitation in Costa Rica acknowledging the horrors of the Holocuast. In the most energetic of terms, the letter denounced the Holocaust as well as the planned, systematic and continuous persecution of the Palestinian people for sixty years under the Israelis. It also demanded an answer to the horrific attack in Gaza that left 1400 people dead.

Video on Israeli Occupation

In July 2009 we were invited to watch an updated video about the very limited activity allowed under Israeli occupation. It was made in Nicaragua and presented by Dr. Sasa. It was called El Holocausto Palestino, the Palestinian Holocaust.

Power Point Presentation by Dra. Muriel Schmid

More recently we were fortunate to have a powerful slide show by Dra. Muriel Schmid, director of religious studies at the University of Utah given to the public at CAP. To see the presentation click on www.amigosparalapaz.org/en/node/12, scroll down to EAPPIprograma.ppt, and click on to the presentation. Her group called Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is sponsored by the World Council of Churches which sends people to stay in Palestine three months at a time to bear witness as peace makers. There have been 600 such witnesses in the program thus far.

Staying strictly in East Jerusalem, that is within Israel, in January, February, and March of 2010, the group had many hands on experiences:
They mediated at Israeli checkpoints where Palestinian farmers had to pass in order to go to work in the fields; they visited Israeli settlements on lands taken from Palestinians; they then saw how Palestinians were deprived of water due to these settlements; they observed how Palestinian families were separated; and they witnessed the suffering of Palestinians who are not allowed to visit their imprisoned family members. Up to 20% of Palestinians have been jailed at some point; they viewed other consequences of the Israeli blockade.
As bitter as this story is, it is encouraging that Dra. Schmid gives this slide show to interested groups in the US who are learning the other side of the story for the first time. We applaud her outstanding commitment to the Palestinian people and her return trip to Palestine this summer. Most importantly we urge
our readers to spread the word by including the link to her presentation (see above) in their own outreach programs.

Renewing our Committee in Solidarity with Palestine
After this presentation we were motivated to renew our group of solidarity with Palestine at CAP. We meet at Centro de Amigos para la Paz on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 5:.30 and plan to have a talk, a show or a video once a month for the public. CAP is located at calle 15, between avenidas 6 and 8, near the court buildings and the Tico Times newspaper.

Attack on the Mavi Marmara
On May 28, 2010 the whole world woke to the news that the Israelis had attacked a ship bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Mavi Marmara, and killed nine people. Within two days we protested in front of the Foreign Relations building in downtown San Jose.

In front of Casa Amarilla, Foreign Relations Building, in San Jose
June 2010

Afterward we went to the Legislative Assembly to express our support for Costa Rica’s strong condemnation of Israel at the United Nations, as well as writing a letter of support to the deputies. We held up a Palestinian flag on the windows of the assembly and spoke with likeminded people who were sitting in the public area.

At the legislative Assembly the same day.

CAP and friends wrote a most emphatic letter to the Minister of Foreign Relations denouncing the attack. It was signed by:
Comision Costarricense de Derechos Humanos
Centro de Amigos para la Paz
Asociacion de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza
Fundacion de los Derechos Humanos
Liga Internacional de Mujeres Pro Paz y libertad, LIMPAL

Federacion de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Costa Rica
Red Activa de Derechos Humanos
Comites Patrioticos.

Conference on the Mavi Marmara at UCR

Shortly afterward, we organized a conference about the attack at the University of Costa Rica. What was an obvious abuse of human rights of the international passengers on the Mavi Marmara, and the killing of nine of them, was twisted by several Israeli supporters on the panel. They had a video tape running the whole time portraying the Israeli soldiers as victims. However, by that time the passengers of the ship had garnered worldwide support, so there were heated questions and answers.

Our response was to send two videos to two ardent Israel defenders, made by passengers on the Mavi Marmara themselves, of actual footage of what happened. You can see them at www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuODT3cPSGU, obtained on Democracy Now.org.

Since then, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations said in a report made public on Sept.20, 2010 that there is enough evidence to take Israel to court for intentional homicide, torture and for causing grave suffering. Turkey, which lost nine of its citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara, is doing a separate study.

To this day, Israel refuses to accept the findings of the Goldstone Report, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission, which strongly condemns it for the attack. See www.goldstone_report.org.

BDS, Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment and Sanctions

At present we are working on joining a worldwide boycott against Israel of goods produced within the Occupied Territories with cheap Palestinian labor. This movement received momentum after the attack on the Mavi Marmara by European dock workers. See www.bdsmovement.net. In September, publicity was given to the movement by 150 famous celebrity names who refused to appear at an international arts festival at a beautiful new Israeli cultural center in Ariel, inside the West Bank.

Among the big names to boycott are Nokia, Intel and Roland food products. Ahava cosmetics in San Francisco received a delegation of activists in San Francisco and surprised their workers and customers there that these cosmetics are produced in the Occupied Territories, with the benefit going to Israel.

Kairos Document Conference

Another large project we have, thanks to Dra. Schmid, is the investigation of the Kairos document, a statement of liberation theology for Palestine. It was drawn up by a dozen Christian clerics in Jerusalem after carefully working on a Christian approach to the problem for one year. See www.kairospalestine.ps to see a video of the launch of the document and to see the document itself in many different languages, go to www.kairospalestine.ps/?q=content/document. It is important to know that a Kairos document contributed to the undoing of apartheid, back in l985 in South Africa. We distributed the document widely to clerics and others.

Alliance with Progressive Jewish Thinkers

Another goal of ours is to keep in touch with progressive Jewish thinkers who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Their honesty has lead to enmity on the part of their fellow Jews. So far we are connected to Mondoweiss at www.mondoweiss.org, and Jewish Voices for Peace whom you can write at feedback@jewishvoices for peace.org.
JVP, and US Campaign@End the Occupation.Org are excellent resources for finding out what is actually taking place in the US to support the Palestinians and what we can do online.

For daily information on the Middle East go to www.aljazeera.net.

Ticadel Talks

Along with our biweekly meetings at Centro de Amigos para la Paz, our Palestine Solidarity Group meets for timely talks at the country house of Rev. Robert Andrews, a Presbyterian minister, retired in Ciudad Colon. Rica. Rev. Andrews has worked on the Israeli Palestine question for the last 50 years, and draws on his strong Christian commitment as a very dynamic counselor to the group. At the October gathering at his house, we discussed strategy for a large forum to discuss the Kairos Document with as many Costa Rican heads of Christian churches, and other interested people, as possible. The Kairos document makes the simple but profound statement that Palestinians must claim their dignity as children of God.

Costa Rica is a Catholic country as stated in its constitution, and we stressed to the (Catholic) Ecumenical Pastoral Conference in San Jose that the Kairos Document had Catholic signers in Jerusalem. They had already heard of it.

Conference on Kairos Document, Nov.30, 2010

With a crowd of 35 people, we had a successful conference about the Kairos Document at the elegant Mexican Cultural Center in Los Yoses. Before the conference began, an official of the Mexican Embassy entered the hall and asked us to remove the Palestinian flag that we had put up in front of the salon. He said he could not allow the flag as the Center had relations with Israel, one more reminder of the power we are constantly up against.

Our panelists included: Reverend Sergio Talero of the Universidad Biblica Latinamericana; Elizabeth Cook of the Universidad Biblica Latinamericana; Eva Rossa Horz, speaking as a Quaker with a special mission considering the role of Germany and its relation to the Jews in Israel; Pablo Richard of the Departamento Ecumenica de Investigaciones, DEI; and Adolfo Ruiz, professor at the Universidad de Heredia. Isabel Macdonald of Centro de Amigos para la Paz facilitated the discussion and question and answer period. Among the new participants were people from an active group of solidarity with Palestine who come from Chile.

Reverend Carlos Bonilla, also of the UBL, drew up a letter in solidarity with the Palestinian people and, with some editing, we distributed the letter to our members and people who had participated in the conference. We then sent the letter to the signers of the Kairos Document in the Sabeel Center in Jerusalem, the Quaker Meeting in Ramallah, and many others, with the help of Dr. Muriel Schmid.

In keeping with our outreach, we now invite participants to that conference to activities at CAP.

1° Festival Maicero de Cultura Popular

At the end of January, CSP was invited to an international festival of popular culture, which featured music, crafts, movie and dance, poetry and theater, food and drink and sharing of information by popular movements. Held at the large grounds of the Sindicato de Educadores Costaricenses (SEC) in Lourdes. Isabel Macdonald and Kifah Sasa demonstrated and sold Palestinian scarves called Kafiya. There were key rings of Palestine, and a book generously donated by Professor Sergio Moya Mora of the University Nacional in Heredia (UNA) titled, Mundo Arabe, Imagen y Conflict.

Eviction of Farmers in Guapiles

At the end of Jan.2011, in a manner totally contrary to Costa Rica’s principles, history and traditions, we learned of a brutal end to a long land controversy in the Atlantic town of Guapiles. With a shocking bulldozing of homes and farms, 32 families were evicted. Now they live in tin shacks, often muddied by rains, looking through barbed wire at the property, where they once had homes and crops, farm animals and
pets. The word unbelievable is insufficient to describe what happened to these land dwellers in our peaceful Costa Rica. It reminded us of what happened – and is still happening – to the Palestinian people for decades.

Upon hearing the news at our regular biweekly meeting, we took up a collection on the spot among members and visitors to help the school children of the families. They had even lost their uniforms for the new school year. Consequently, we provided hundreds of notebooks, and one uniform for each child. A note was sent from our group saying that we sympathize with them because of what the Palestinians endure, and offered our drop in the bucket (grano de arena in Spanish) in solidarity.

This thorny case is going to a local Guapiles court and many members of CAP are following it up, especially Ana Cecilia Jimenez, former head of the Commission on Human Rights in Costa Rica, who is on the board of our peace center. Efforts were made with the IMAS, a government agency that deals with extreme poverty in the country, but their response was indifferent at best. There is an ongoing committee to investigate how this raid was ordered and carried out.

Later we were informed that this brutal mowing down of homes and farms was done to allow room for a new police academy in Costa Rica.
It is a dismal sign of the new orientation toward militarization of public forces here.

March 6 talk at Ticadel

In the midst of the rebellion in the Arab world, we had an illuminating talk in Rev. Robert Andrew’s garden given by Professor Sergio Moya Mora, an Arab authority in CR at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma, and Victoria Fontan, professor at the University for Peace. It emphasized that the uprising is different in each country and that this is a nonviolent youth movement, with others joining in, that is only possible because of Facebook and other social networks.

The upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia ended within weeks, and the participants were unarmed. On the other hand the ongoing Libyan uprising is very violent and the Saudis are arming the rebels. In return the Saudis are allowed, by the US, to aid the royalty in Bahrein. Syrian protesters face death and great risks, and in Jordan pro and anti government supporters are facing off. In Saudi Arabia the government has thrown in $34 billion dollars for public relief in order to stave off a rebellion there. In Libya there is an ongoing struggle as NATO is attacking Gaddafi’s strongholds and armed rebels are already holding several cities.

Who are the winners and who are the losers in this battle for the Arab street? Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood appear to have improved their image as they were not behind the protests. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries with Western backed dictators are shaking on their thrones as young and old people demand their human rights – freedom of expression, jobs, and life without repression. All in all, the Arab uprising is rocking. Dictators, sheiks and kings are not enjoying the dance. The Arab Spring, as it is nicknamed, will have a drastic effect on Arab-Israeli relations as the Arab populations potentially create a unified voice free from Western influence.

Israeli reaction to Arab Spring
This news has been dominating the headlines for months. Israel took advantage of this cover by unleashing its fire power in Gaza in April, in total violation of international law. By doing so they broke the Operation Cast Lead ceasefire, in place since 2009, in an unprovoked attack that killed 20 people including 4 children.

Dr. Schmid Returns with another Power Point

We were fortunate once more to have Dr.Muriel Schmid back in Costa Rica, teaching at the Universidad Biblica Latinamericana for two months in the spring. This time she brought a slide show about seven different peace groups within Israel, each with a separate focus.
Dr. Schmid is returning to the Sabeel Center in Palestine in June and offers to be a go between for contacts there and for the peace groups in her presentation. You can see her contact information at the bottom
of the page of this long insert and see her power point presentation at EAPPI_CAP-16march2011.pptx.
Note several book recommendations on page 3.

Another resource in our files from Dr. Schmid is a telling book An Unjust Settlement put out by the EAPPI. It is a Tale of Illegal Israeli Settlements in the West Bank. Again, we are grateful to her and could make this book available to the public.

Muriel Schmid/EAPPI/Group #34/January-March 2010

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Israeli Peace Movement—
List of groups I met and/or worked with, and now use as a regular source of information.

1) Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) – www.acri.org.il/eng/
ACRI focuses on civil rights for people in Palestine/Israel and works a little bit differently than most human rights groups. This is a big organization with a lot of success in terms of court cases and legal issues. Yael Maizel is the PR and international relations person for the organization.
Contact: Yael Maizel (Yaelm@acri.org.il).
2) Machsom Watch – www.machsomwatch.org Since February 2001, this organization of Israeli women has been standing at checkpoints monitoring the behavior of their soldiers, helping Palestinians who are detained or denied passage, and writing reports for their webpage. MW has about 500 active members who do at least one shift a week. They have managed to raise the Israeli public’s awareness of checkpoints. They also attend Israeli military tribunals. Their motivations and opinions are varied. Some do it for Palestinian rights, others because they’re worried about the effect the Occupation has on soldiers, others because they oppose the militarization of Israeli life.
3) Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – www.ichad.org
Dr Jeff Halper is the “grand-daddy” of Israeli peace activists, and is an American-Israeli professor of Anthropology. ICAHD was established to oppose the Occupation by highlighting the Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the OPT. Halper was the only Israeli Jew on the first Free Gaza Movement boat to Gaza in August 2008, and one of only two Israeli Jews who has Palestinian
citizenship (the other is Daniel Barenboim). He has written an interesting book about his life as an activist: An Israeli in Palestine. Another excellent reference is Obstacles To Peace and ICAHD’s little booklet Counter Rhetoric is highly recommended for answering difficult questions during advocacy
4) Breaking the Silence – www.shovrimshtika.org
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers and commanders that collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the OPT during the Second Intifada. Through the testimonies of soldiers who served in Hebron and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, they question orders and actions committed against Palestinian civilians. Instead of ignoring or denying their personal experiences, the soldiers use them to inform the public about what soldiers really do.
5) B’Tselem – www.btselem.org
B’Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. It was established 1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members, and strives to document and educate the Israeli public about human rights violations in the OPT, and help create a human rights culture in Israel. B’Tselem means “in the image of”, and refers to all human beings being equal in the image of God. B’Tselem conducts its own research and its reports have a good reputation even with the Israeli authorities. Jessica Montell, the current executive director, was trained in the U.S. Contacts: Jessica Montell (Jmontell@btselem.org). Muriel Schmid/EAPPI/Group #34/January-March 2010

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6) Women in Black – www.coalitionofwomen.org
On Fridays from 1pm to 2pm Women in Black (together with some men) have been holding a silent vigil at Perez Square at the intersection of King George V and Gershon Agron. It is walking distance from the New Gate. They dress in black and hold signs saying “Stop the Occupation” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Women in Black began in January 1988, a month after the first Palestinian Intifada broke out. You can also join Women in Black vigils in other parts of Israel.
7) New Profile – www.newprofile.org
New Profile is a feminist, anti-militaristic organization formed in October 1998 to influence Israeli society to become less militaristic. They are a very interesting and important organization which is increasingly harassed. They had their offices raided in early 2009 and their computers taken.
Information: info@newprofile.org
8) Alternative Information Centre (AIC) – www.alternativenews.org/
This is a joint Israeli-Palestinian NGO and a good starting point for general information in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem office is situated on Schlomzion 4, 1st floor. This is the street that goes down to your left after the post office if you’re coming down Jaffa Road (West Jerusalem) from the old city. They also have an office in Beit Sahour (Bethlehem). They have a broad range of activities, including press conferences, tours of alternative tourism in Jerusalem, publishing of booklets and magazines, film-screenings, lectures and a media project, café discussions. Check the on-line AIC Event Calendar for lectures, meetings and film screenings. They have been investigated after publishing a book about torture in Israeli prisons. The centre was forced to close for a number of years.
Contact for the guided tours: Rotem (rotemdanmor@disinfo.net).
9) Parents Circle – Bereaved Families Forum – www.theparentscircle.com

This is an association of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost family members in the violence yet are still determined to work for peace and reconciliation. The Bereaved Families do a lot of tours worldwide but recently it has been harder for the Palestinians to accompany the Israelis. Recently, Leonard Cohen gave the org part of the profits from his Tel Aviv concert.
Office: akquds@theparentscircle.org
10) Peace Now – www.peacenow.org.il
This is Israel’s biggest peace movement and the most moderate one, appealing to mainstream Israeli society. Peace Now has gained much respect from the peace movement for their Settlement Watch program.
Contact: Etai Mizrav (etai@peacenow.org).
11) Zochrot – www.zochrot.org
Zochrot ( ”Remembering”) is an Israeli organization which aims to raise the awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. It arranges tours to “lost” Palestinian villages and sites in Israel. On these trips they normally try to bring together Palestinians who used to live in the village and if possible some of its current Israeli inhabitants. Muriel Schmid/EAPPI/Group #34/January-March 2010

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12) Other Voice – www.othervoice.org
This is an association of people who live in Sderot and the region surrounding Gaza. Other Voice is working to bring an end to the violence that afflicts the whole area of south west Israel. They think this can only be done by creating a public and private partnership involving Palestinians and Israelis. At the moment this can only be done by telephone and video link between Gaza and Sderot but by talking to each other like this they want to lay the basis for future dialogue. Nomika Zion wrote an important article “Not in my Name,” available on: http://villagesgroup.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/a-sderot-woman-speaks-out-against-gaza-war/
13) Jerusalem Peacemaker team – www.jerusalempeacemakers.org
Jerusalem Peacemakers is a network of independent interfaith peace-builders dedicated to encouraging understanding and reconciliation in the Holy Land. They are deeply involved in “getting together both sides” initiative, as the Sulha gathering that happens every summer. The Jerusalem Peacemaker team also organizes Interfaith Encounters; such a group exists in Ma’ale Adumim, bringing together people from Ma’ale Adumim and Abu Dis.
Contacts: Yehuda Stolov (yehuda@interfaith-encounter.org).
14) Emek Shaveh – www.alt-arch.org
Group of archeologists focusing on the role of archeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they offer alternative tours of the City of David/Silwan area. Their website provides a list of principles to interpret archeological findings as well as a description of archeology as a bridge between time periods and cultures.
Four books written by Jewish Israelis or Americans:
1) Mark Braverman, Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land, Synergy Books: 2010.
American citizen with strong Jewish roots; see: http://markbraverman.org/.
2) Avraham Burg, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise from its Ashes, Palgrave: 2009.
Israeli citizen, author and former member of the Knesset.
3) Neve Gordon, Israel’s Occupation, University of California Press: 2008.

Israeli academic, professor of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; see: http://www.israelsoccupation.info/.
4) Anna Baltzer, Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories, Paradigm Publishers: 2007.
Young American who got involved in the Palestinian case a few years ago; very active in the U.S.; see: http://www.annainthemiddleeast.com/index.html. Muriel Schmid/EAPPI/Group #34/January-March 2010
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Four additional groups for information:
1) Rabbis for Human Rights – www.rhr.israel.net
Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) is an organization headed by rabbis. It promotes human rights mainly in the West Bank within the context of giving voice to the Jewish tradition of human rights. American-Israeli Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the director of the organization.
Contacts:
Rabbis for HR office: 02-648-0893
2) Gush Shalom – www.gush-shalom.org
Gush Shalom’s aims include an end to the occupation, return to the Green Line of 1967, accepting the right to a Palestinian State, Jerusalem as the capital of two states, and recognition of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. They work to influence Israeli public opinion towards peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian people. Their website provides helpful information and maps regarding the Separation Wall.
3) COMET – http://www.comet-me.org/
The mission of Community, Energy and Technology in the Middle East is to facilitate social and economical empowerment in the poorest and most marginalized communities in the occupied Palestinian territories through material support and capacity building. The core of this activity is the provision of basic energy services for off-grid communities using solar and wind power, in a way that is both environmentally and socially sustainable. These energy services include the required hardware and the local capacity to maintain and install existing and additional systems. Although the money and know how come from the outside the ownership of the project is local in that the entire decision making is done by the community’s local committee. Comet-ME is a joint initiative of Israelis and local Palestinians communities who believe that barriers of hostility can be overcome by joint, concrete, work aimed at felling down the walls of segregation and racism.
4) The Israeli Occupation Archive – http://www.israeli-occupation.org/
IOA was founded on the belief that any occupation is morally wrong and must be opposed. The takeover of a land, the denial of equal rights to its inhabitants, and their forcible eviction, are all fundamentally unacceptable and must be rejected. It is also our conviction that punitive actions carried out by the state of Israel against native Palestinians over the years, such as the bombing of civilian population centers, cannot be justified under any circumstances. Such actions are in direct violation of international laws and conventions set out after World War II, and fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The IOA does not advocate a specific solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g., one-State vs. two-State) or endorse a particular Palestinian group or viewpoint. Rather, from its inception, the IOA’s focal point has been a steadfast opposition to the Israeli Occupation and support for an equitable solution for all Palestinians – a basic right of an oppressed people to self-determination.

Contact: mschmid@ix.netcom.com

Gilad Atzmon, Saxophonist and Writer Activist

The well known sax player and writer from Israel was in Costa Rica for the Festival de las Artes in March, invited by the Ministry of Cultura along with his band. We were privileged to have him speak to a large audience at the University of Costa Rica. Carlos Arrieta, of our committee and Director of Psychology Studies at UCR, arranged for a large auditorium, and the UCR donated the services of a translator and headphones for the audience. Over one hundred students and professors attended the lively talk.

Instead of a narrative about the Middle East, Gilad engaged the audience with his own personal story. He was born in Israel and his grandparents were Zionists. As a youngster in the 60s he had only seen Palestinians as manual workers. He showed an interest in music, but at the age of 18 he entered the Israeli army and was sent to the Palestinian refugee camp in Asbat al-Ansar in Lebanon. For the first time in his life, Palestinians were looking at him in anger through barbed wire, and this is the first time he saw them for who they are. This is what turned him into an activist for his Palestinian countrymen.

Because of his iconoclastic thinking and humane views, Gilad has had to exile himself to London, from where he and his Oriental House Ensemble are invited to play around Europe. You can keep up to date with him at www.gilad.co.uk and check www.rense.com (Jeff Rense) where his writing is the second most visited on the website.

After a spirited talk that lead to many questions, Gilad delighted us with a rendition on his saxophone of an oldie, My One and Only Love, also the title of a book he wrote.

Rense Website

Here is a quote from the home page of the rense website, summary of the AIPAC Israeli lobby.

“The Israeli Lobby owns the Congress, media, Hollywood, Wall Street, both political parties, and the White House. This kind of talk will get people fired by this lobby, as we have seen recently with White House correspondent Helen Thomas and CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. However, many Americans are growing tired of the arrogance of the Israel Lobby and their bigoted attitudes toward anyone who challenges their influence-peddling and their ridiculous insistence that Israel must be supported because of some ancient fairy tales involving some tribes who wandered the deserts of the Middle East and saw and heard non-existent things because of sun stroke, drinking bad water, and smoking local hallucinogenic plants.” – Wayne Madsen

The NAKBA

This is the Arab word for the Catastrophe which took place the day Israel was created, May 15, 1948. CSP decided to commemorate the day by going with an information pack to each diputado, congressperson, in the Costa Rican Asamblea Legislativa. We included an actual copy of the Kairos Document written by Catholic and other Christian denomination clergy in Jerusalem, claiming the rights of Palestinians as children of God.

A note of interest is the fact that the constitution of Costa Rica states that it is a Catholic country, and there are two diputados who represent fundamentalist constituencies.

A cover letter thanked the diputados for condemning the attack on the Mavi Marmara, and for moving the CR embassy to Tel Aviv, out of Jerusalem in 2008. It was encouraging that seven of the fifty seven offices were sympathetic and an invitation to talk with us was extended, for future orientation of Costa Rica’s foreign policy.