American Activists and Israeli Academics Support the Palestinian Struggle Against Israel


11.08.22

Editorial Note

The US Committee on Ethics by the House of Representatives recently published an Employee Post-Travel Disclosure Form by Ruben Goddard, the legislative Assistant of Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ). Goddard’s trip was sponsored by an American NGO, Rebuilding Alliance, to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.

According to their website, “Rebuilding Alliance is dedicated to advancing equal rights for the Palestinian people through education, advocacy, and support that assures Palestinian families the right to a home, schooling, economic security, safety, and a promising future… Our Life-Affirming Vision: To realize a just and enduring peace in Palestine and Israel founded upon equal rights, equal security, and equal opportunity for all.”

But this is not true.

As seen from Goddard’s Employee Post-Travel Disclosure Form, Rebuilding Alliance aims to support the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel. In particular, in Area C. The Palestinians and Israel have signed an interim agreement whereby the Palestinian Arabs belong to the Palestinian Authority, yet they live in an area under Israeli control. Rebuilding Alliance provides material support to the Palestinians, so they can seize land and build without having legal permits. The delegation’s visit to Area C is described as “seeing this will allow House staff to consider how U.S. policy and aid can support the aspirations of Palestinian village who seek to stay on their land by preventing the demolition of Palestinian homes.”

The Disclosure Form states, “The separation wall has been called a security measure by some and a land grab by others. It has long been controversial due to its route- which cuts deep into Palestinian territory and separates Palestinian communities. One of the missions of this trip is to discuss barriers to peace and the separation wall has long been considered by the Palestinians to be an Israeli attempt to create more facts on the ground, and to include as much Palestinian land on the Israeli side as possible.”

The document did not mention that the security barrier was erected to prevent terrorists from crossing into Israel.

Goddard’s delegation went on a tour of the City of David, that “provides a lens into the foundations of the City of Jerusalem and how that archaeological foundation has been used to expand Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as appropriating the field of archaeology to achieve those ends.”

In particular, the delegation is interested in house demolitions and evictions ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court. The delegation was provided with background information on the case of the Sumarin family who described “the challenges they have faced and are facing in their appeal of the eviction order.”

The delegation was told about demolitions of houses that had no building permits. “The Abu Khyara family had their home demolished in recent years. Our partner in the planning of this delegation, the Holy Land Trust, funded and assisted in the rebuilding of the family’s home. Why: One of the goals of this delegation is to discuss the remedies to some of the issues in the area, and how those remedies can lead to a longer lasting peace. Organizations that are rebuilding demolished homes are working towards that goal.”

Israeli academics are also involved with Rebuilding Alliance. The delegation has met with Dr. Laura Wharton, a political scientist from the Hebrew University, who is, according to the Disclosure Form, “an ally of the Palestinian communities in Jerusalem,” who “exemplifies what it means to ‘cross the aisle.'” As stated, Wharton has been one of the only advocates for “fair housing” on the Jerusalem City Council. “She discussed issues related to home demolition orders and planning policies in the area.” 

The delegation also meets the “Military Court Watch” (MCW), a Palestinian NGO, to “prepare them with context and background information to their visit to Ofer Prison. They were to explore how the “peaceful aspirations of all can be furthered when Palestinians and Israelis both enjoy equal rights.” it is important to “observe this separate, unequal form of juvenile justice.” The delegation observes court proceedings for cases of Palestinian child prisoners. MCW’s work is guided by the basic principle that “children detained by the Israeli military authorities are entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under international law. Further, and in accordance with the principle that no State is permitted to discriminate between those over whom it exercises penal jurisdiction, there is no legal justification for treating Palestinian and Israeli children differently under Israel’s military and civilian legal systems. In accordance with these principles, MCW advocates, and where appropriate, litigates, to ensure that all children that come in contact with the military legal system are treated fairly and in accordance with the law.” 

The delegation is not interested in preventing the abuse of Palestinian children by Palestinian adults who instruct them on stone-throwing so that the Israeli military would detain them. The delegation ignores that children should be protected at home by their families and not become child soldiers.

There are more Israeli academics involved with Rebuilding Alliance. One of them is Prof. David Shulman, an expert on Indian culture and literature. A long-time peace activist who co-founded the activist group Taayush, Shulman would want us to believe that he is evenhanded when discussing the absence of peace between the two communities. However, a closer look at his writings, such as on the website of Rebuilding Alliance, reveals a different picture. By his own admission, he seems to preferer the Palestinians over the Israelis and, as a result, has nothing to say about the persistence and violent refusal of the former to accept the Oslo peace agreement or any other reasonable solutions. As a matter of fact, one cannot find in his writings any reference to the fact that the PLO rejected the offer of Camp David II in 2000 and launched a bloody Intifada. Needless to say, the professor has never mentioned the role of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in destroying any subsequent opportunity for peace. 

 This type of one-sided presentation is known as de-contextualization, whereby the complex dynamics of a conflict are ignored. The technique is favored by Israeli peace activists who portray the Palestinians as passive victims of Israeli brutality. Of course, it makes a great story for visiting delegations whose members are probably unfamiliar with the history and reality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They go back home and help to gain material support for the Palestinian struggle against Israel. 

References:

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PRIMARY TRIP SPONSOR FORM
This form should be completed by private entities offering to provide travel or reimbursement for travel to House Members,
officers, or employees under House Rule 25, clause 5. A completed copy of the form (and any attachments) should be
provided to each invited House Member, officer, or employee, who will then forward it to the Committee together with a
Traveler Form at least 30 days before the start date of the trip. The trip sponsor should NOT submit the form directly to the
Committee. The Committee website (ethics.house.gov) provides detailed instructions for filling out the form.
NOTE: Willful or knowing misrepresentations on this form may be subject to criminal prosecution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Failure to comply with the Committee’s Travel Regulations may also lead to the denial of permission to sponsor future trips.
1. Sponsor who will be paying for the trip:
2. o I represent that the trip will not be financed, in whole or in part, by a registered federal lobbyist or foreign agent.
Signify that the statement is true by checking box.
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a. o The primary trip sponsor has not accepted from any other source, funds intended directly or indirectly to
finance any aspect of the trip: OR
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funds only from entities that will receive a tangible benefit in exchange for those funds: OR
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Version date 3/2021 by Committee on Ethics
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INSTRUCTIONS
Complete the Primary Trip Sponsor Form and submit the agenda, invitation list, any attachments, and any Additional Trip
Sponsor Forms directly to the Travelers.
Written approval from the Committee on Ethics is required before traveling on this trip. The Committee on Ethics will
notify the House invitees directly and will not notify the trip sponsors.
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Signatures must comply with section 104(bb) of the Travel Regulations.
For questions, please contact the Committee on Ethics at:
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Washington, D.C. 20515
ethicscommittee@mail.house.gov | 202-225-7103
More information and forms available at ethics.house.gov
______________________________________
1 Please be aware that the Committee’s review of the proposed trip does not extend to either the security
situation in the destination country or security related to foreign travel in general. We recommend you contact the
Office of House Security (OHS) for a safety and security briefing prior to your departure. OHS may be reached at
(202) 226-2044 or ohsstaff@mail.house.gov. House travelers should also register for the U.S. State Department’s
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://step.state.gov.
May 10, 2022
Mr. Ruben Goddard
Office of the Honorable Donald M. Payne, Jr.
106 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Goddard:
Pursuant to House Rule 25, clause 5(d)(2), the Committee on Ethics hereby approves
your proposed trip to Israel,1 scheduled for May 27 to June 4, 2022, sponsored by Rebuilding
Alliance.
You must complete an Employee Post-Travel Disclosure Form (which your employing
Member must also sign) and file it, together with a Sponsor Post-Travel Disclosure Form
completed by the trip sponsor, with the Clerk of the House within 15 days after your return from
travel. As part of that filing, you are also required to attach a copy of this letter and both the
Traveler and Primary Trip Sponsor Forms (including attachments) you previously submitted to
the Committee in seeking pre-approval for this trip. If you are required to file an annual
Financial Disclosure Statement, you must also report all travel expenses totaling more than $415
from a single source on the “Travel” schedule of your annual Financial Disclosure Statement
covering this calendar year. Finally, Travel Regulation § 404(d) also requires you to keep a copy
of all request forms and supporting information provided to the Committee for three subsequent
Congresses from the date of travel.
Because the trip may involve meetings with foreign government representatives, we note
that House employees may accept, under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act (FGDA), gifts
“of minimal value [currently $415] tendered as a souvenir or mark of courtesy” by a foreign
government. Any tangible gifts valued in excess of minimal value received from a foreign
government must, within 60 days of acceptance, be disclosed on a Form for Disclosing Gifts
from Foreign Governments and either turned over to the Clerk of the House, or, with the written
approval of the Committee, retained for official use.
Theodore E. Deutch, Florida
Chairman
Jackie Walorski, Indiana
Ranking Member
Susan Wild, Pennsylvania
Dean Phillips, Minnesota
Veronica Escobar, Texas
Mondaire Jones, New York
Michael Guest, Mississippi
Dave Joyce, Ohio
John H. Rutherford, Florida
Kelly Armstrong, North Dakota
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
COMMITTEE ON ETHICS
Thomas A. Rust
Staff Director and Chief Counsel
David W. Arrojo
Counsel to the Chairman
Kelle A. Strickland
Counsel to the Ranking Member
1015 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515–6328
Telephone: (202) 225–7103
Facsimile: (202) 225–7392
If you have any further questions, please contact the Committee’s Office of Advice and
Education at extension 5-7103.
Sincerely,
Theodore E. Deutch Jackie Walorski
Chairman Ranking Member
TED/JW:adw
Rebuilding Alliance LLM StaffDel May 28-Jun 4 2022: Confirmed Travellers
Congressional
Office State or District Staff Position Staffer Reason for Invitation
1
2
Rep. Al Lawson D-FL-05
Foreign
Policy/Leg.
Director
Amber
Milenkevich
Amber has been to Israel before and would like to see the West Bank. Her
boss, Rep. Lawson, has an interest in the region, as stated by the staffer. As
a foreign policy staffer, this region is relevant to her official duties.
Rep. Donald
Payne D-NJ-10 Foreign Policy Ruben Goddard
As a foreign policy staffer, Ruben is looking for first hand knowledge in the
area. His boss has been very involved in issues related to Israel and the
West Bank, and the staffer would benefit from seeing conditions on the
ground.
3
Rep.
Gwen
Moore
D-WI-04
Foreign
Policy/ Senior
Legislative
Adviser Izmira Aitch
Izmira’s boss has been involved in these issues. Staffer herself has been
invited to and attended our briefings on Israel and the West Bank in the
past.
50 Woodside Plaza, Ste. 627, Redwood City CA 94061 Phone: (650) 440-9667 Email: Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org
www.RebuildingAlliance.org
Congressional StaffDel
Leadership Learning Mission to Jerusalem and the West Bank
With financial support provided by Rebuilding Alliance, an American 501(c)3 organization
May 28 – June 3, 2022
Detailed Agenda as Completed
MISSION GOALS: The overall goal of this Leadership Learning Mission is to explore how the peaceful
aspirations of all can be furthered when Palestinians and Israelis both enjoy the benefits of equal
rights, and how U.S. policy and aid can support those aspirations.
RELEVANCE TO OFFICIAL DUTIES: The Leadership Learning Mission offers senior Congressional
staff the opportunity to further their understanding of this region of the world and to better
understand the implications of American policies in the region, to better support constituents. This
fact-finding trip will:
● Provide participants with an understanding of the history of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and
Gaza leading to the current conditions;
● Consider the implications and impact of Israeli control of building and planning rights in East
Jerusalem and the West Bank and explore successful ways to prevent the demolition of
Palestinian homes, schools, water systems, and neighborhoods;
● Visit Palestinians and Israelis who work for peace and justice to understand the challenges
they are facing, learn about their efforts including joint efforts to address those challenges,
consider what Congress is uniquely able to do to support such efforts, and how this makes a
difference; and
● Show how US aid benefits the health and education of Palestinian children.
LOCATION: The purpose of travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank is to give senior Congressional staff
the opportunity to see the evolving facts on the ground, attend on-site meetings, and where possible,
to hear from Palestinians and Israelis working together to keep neighborhoods standing and
safeguard human rights.
Of Note: Holy Land Trust is the tour operator selected by Rebuilding Alliance to implement this
fact-finding mission.
Friday, May 27th: Travel
22:45 United Flight 72 Departing IAD at 10:45 PM, Nonstop Boeing 787 w Dinner
Nonstop Boeing 787 w Dinner Arriving at TLV 4:40 PM
Note: One staff member was delayed and and arrived a day later.
Saturday, May 28th: Arrival
15:00 16:40 Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv
16:40-17:30 Transportation by minibus to the St. George Hotel in East Jerusalem. The
St. George Hotel is conveniently located, recently renovated, and known for
great breakfasts.
Location: St. George Hotel
19:30-21:00 Welcome! Hotel dining room dinner with introductions.
Presenters: Donna Baranski-Walker, Exec. Dir. of Rebuilding Alliance and Matthew
Walsh, Assistant Leadership Learning Coordinator. A warm welcome,
discussion of safety guidelines of the trip.
Accommodations: Overnight at the St. George Hotel, Jerusalem
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 2
Start
Time
End
Time
Sunday May 29, 2022: Bethlehem.
Note: Many people anticipated that violence would erupt in Jerusalem due to the controversial flag march. Because the
U.S. Embassy issued a Security Alert preventing U.S. employees from entering the Old City on Sunday, May 29th,
Rebuilding Alliance changed our schedule to start our LLM 3.0 in Bethlehem instead of Jerusalem. We notified the House
Ethics Committee and the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Officer of this change, and asked if it would be possible for
us to stay overnight in Bethlehem if safe return to our Jerusalem hotel was not possible. We received the following reply,
“If there is an emergency situation and you need to change lodging, then that would likely be an exceptional circumstance
and would be allowable. It would just need to be reflected on the post-travel paperwork.”
At 6pm Sunday, when our driver, who lives in East Jerusalem, expressed concern about our return to Jerusalem, we
relocated to stay at the Manger Square Hotel in Bethlehem, just across from the Nativity Church and down the street
from the office of our tour agency, Holy Land Trust.
8:00 8:45 Breakfast
9:00 9:05 Meet in the Saint George Hotel lobby to depart to first destination
9:05 9:30 Transportation by mini bus to Bethlehem
1:15:00 9:30 10:45 Discussion with Holy Land Trust
What: Delegation begins the trip by learning about Rebuilding Alliance and our partner for this delegation, the
Holy Land Trust., as well as getting to know one another. We also were introduced to the historical, political,
and geographic issues in the area.
Why: This information provides context and setting for what we will be learning throughout the week.
Location: Holy Land Trust office, Old City Bethlehem
Tour Guide: Elias D’eis, Executive Director of HLT and facilitator, Said Zarzar
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
1:45:00 10:45 12:30 Tour of Rachel Tomb Area from Bethlehem side/ The Wall
What: A look at the wall and the area around Rachel’s Tomb (inaccessible from the Bethlehem side), a site
that is important for both Palestinians and Israelis but that is now almost entirely encircled by the wall- and
accessible only to Israelis. This visit includes a walk along the separation wall and an introduction to the
geo-politics of the Bethlehem area.
Why: The separation wall has been called a security measure by some and a land grab by others. It has long 

been controversial due to its route- which cuts deep into Palestinian territory and seprates Palestinian communities. 

One of the missions of this trip is to discuss barriers to peace and the separation wall has long been considered by 

the Palestinians to be an Israeli attempt to create more facts on the ground, and to include as much Palestinian land 

on the Israeli side as possible.
Presenter: Said Zarzar, HLT Tour Guide
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 3
Location: Bethlehem
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
12:30 13:15 Lunch at Memories of Bethlehem restaurant, Bethlehem
13:30 14:15 Shopping at Local Souvenir Shop: Mitri Souvenir Shop, Bethlehem
14:15 14:30 Transit to Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
1:15:00 14:45 16:00 Visit the Church of Nativity, Old City of Bethlehem, Star Street area
What: Walking tour of the Old City area of Bethlehem- to include Manger Square and the Church of the
Nativity. The Church of the Nativity is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity,
and the basilica, dating back to 325/26 is the oldest major church in the Holy Land.
Why: “This presentation is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties
because it meets one major goal of this trip: to provide participants with an understanding of the history of the
region, which includes religious and historical.
Location: Manger Square, Bethlehem
Tour Guide: Sana Sansour
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
0:20:00 16:00 16:20 Drive to Al Walajeh Village
0:55:00 16:20 17:15 Meeting with Khader Al-Araj, head of Village Council, and Adv. Ibrahim Al-Araj, attorney
What: Al-Walajeh provides a unique introduction to the administrative and military “areas” of the West Bankportions
of the village are located in Areas B, and C. The village also is an example of the impact of vast
settlement blocs on Palestinian villages in the area. Home demolitions are considered to be disruptive to the
establishment of conditions that should lead to a future peace deal- and Al-Walajeh currently has large
numbers of homes facing demolition.
Why: This presentation is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties
because it addresses many of the issues that are seen to impact peace in the region: settlement takeover of
Palestinian village lands, home demolitions, and discriminatory planning policies. Understanding these issues
and seeing a village that is being impacted by them will give staff insight into the challenges faced by
Palestinian communities on mulitple fronts.
Location: Al-Walajeh Village
Presenter: Khader Al-Araj; Ibrahim Al-Araj
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:45:00 17:15 18:00 Visit with Khaled Abu Khyara Family
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 4
What: The Abu Khyara family had their home demolished in recent years. Our partner in the planning of this
delegation, the Holy Land Trust, funded and assisted in the rebuilding of the family’s home.
Why: One of the goals of this delegation is to discuss the remedies to some of the issues in the area, and how
those remedies can lead to a longer lasting peace. Organizations that are rebuilding demolished homes are
working towards that goal.
Location: Al-Walajeh Village
Presenter: The Abu Khayra family
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
18:00 18:05 Ruben Goddard, Jr. arrived at Ben Gurion airport and joined our team
18:05 18:30 Transportation by mini bus to Manger Square Hotel, Bethlehem for check-in
0:30:00 18:45 20:00 Taxies to Dinner at Shepherd’s Tent Restaurant, Beit Sahour
6:45:00 20:00 Overnight at Manger Square Hotel, Bethlehem
Start
Time
End
Time Monday May 30, 2022: Jerusalem Area
8:00 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 10:30 Free time in Bethlehem
0:30:00 10:30 11:00 Transit by Minibus to Haas Promenade
What: The drive between Bethlehem and Jerusalem provides the opportunity to see the block of settlements
that separates the two areas, effectively cutting the Bethlehem area from Jerusalem- the city to which it has
been connected for several thousand years. In our case it also offered a sense of what closure is like because
the Bethlehem/Jerusalem checkpoint was entirely shut down. Our bus driver had to take an alternate route.
Why: Settlement construction has been described as one of the main impediments to peace and to realizing a
two state solution. Seeing the layout of settlements helps one understand how the future prospect of peace is
impacted by the Gilo Settlement bloc.
Where: Bethlehem-Jerusalem
Presenter: Itamar Shapirra, LLM Guide
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:30:00 11:00 11:30 Haas Promenade, view over Jerusalem
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 5
What: Overview of Jerusalem’s evolution as a center point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the 1948
Green Line, the 1967 conquests, East Jerusalem and West Bank annexations, Jewish
neighborhoods/settlements, Palestinian neighborhoods, and discussion of civil status in the city of Jerusalem.
Why: This presentation is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional Staff’s official duties
because it is providing the Staff with the base of information that they will need and draw upon throughout
the remainder of the trip.
Presenter: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour leader
Location: Jerusalem’s Haas Promenade, Daniel Yanofsky Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:15:00 11:30 11:45 Transportation by bus to Damascus Gate for Old City Tour
1:15:00 11:45 13:00 Guided walking tour of Old City, Jerusalem
What: Entry via Damascus Gate. This will include an overlook of the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and
Al Aqsa Mosque, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and other significant religious, historical, and cultural sites
and neigbhborhoods to help Congressional staffers and constituents begin to understand the varied aspirations
of Palestinians and Israelis and provide a better understanding of what the New York Times calls, “a distinctly
20th century story, with roots in colonialism, nationalism, and anti-Semitism.”
Why: A major objective is to provide the Congressional staff with an understanding of the history of the area
leading up to the current conditions. Any discussion of that history must include the historical sites in the Old
City of Jerusalem.
Tour Guide: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour guide
Location: Old City of Jerusalem
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:20:00 13:00 13:20
Guided discussion as we passed the public area of the City of David (delegation will walk out the Dung Gate
of the Old City and walk over to the City of David which is just adjacent to the Sumarin Family’s home)
What: The City of David, one of the largest and richest settler groups in Jerusalem, is in the oldest part of
Jerusalem, predating the walled Old City, and was believed to be the area that the ancient Israelites first
inhabited.
Why: This is relevant to the mission and the staffer’s official duties because it provides a lens into the
foundations of the City of Jerusalem and how that archaeological foundation has been used to expand Israeli
settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as appropriating the field of archaeology to achieve those ends.
Tour Guide: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour guide
Location: City of David, Jerusalem
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
Our guide will take us, walking, next door to the Sumarin Family’s home
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 6
Presenter: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour leader
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:40:00 13:20 14:00
Participants will have a catered lunch in the family’s gated courtyard and meet with the family and many of
the Israeli Jewish groups that have been advocating to save their home.
0:30:00 14:00 14:30 Meeting with the Sumarin Family and Sumarin Coalition
What: Meeting will update the delegation and provide background on the case of the Sumarin family. They
will describe the challenges they have faced and are facing in their appeal of the eviction order.
Why: Silwan has served as a flashpoint in recent years. Understanding the various legal mechanisms and laws
that allow settler groups and NGOs is vital. Discussion also includes the issue of American NGOs that are
listed as charities funding some of these activities.
Presenters: Sumarin Family, Rabbi Arik Ascherman- Torat Tzedek, Rabbi Moshe Silver and Reza Green, Seek
Peace Jerusalem
Location: Silwan, Sumarin family home
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
1:00:00 14:30 15:30 Discussion with Sumarin Coalition Partners
What: Meeting will update the delegation and provide background on the case of the Sumarin family; will also
introduce staff to the coalition of groups that worked together to save the family home.
Why: The coalition exemplifies various groups coming together and working to save a home- starting small,
with one home, but that home being very important to that family. This will serve as an introduction to some
of the advocacy work RA has undertaken.
Presenters: Sumarin Family, Rabbi Arik Ascherman- Torat Tzedek, Rabbi Moshe Silver and Reza Green, Seek
Peace Jerusalem
Location: Silwan, Sumarin family home
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:15:00 15:30 15:45 Walk from the Sumarin home to the Bustan neighborhood of Silwan
1:00:00 16:00 17:00 Meeting Dr. Laura Wharton
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 7
What: Dr. Wharton has been one of the only advocates for fair housing on the Jerusalem City Council. She
discussed issues related to home demolition orders and planning policies in the area.
Why: One of the goals of the trip is to understand planning issues in Jerusalem and how the system does not
work for all of the people of Jerusalem. Dr. Wharton, an ally of the Palestinian communities in Jerusalem,
exemplafies what it means to “cross the aisle” and is a model of cooperation and of diverse communities
coming together in Jerusalem to find solutions that will lead to a prosperous and thriving Jerusalem for all.
Presenters: Dr. Laura Wharton
Location: Bustan neighborhood, Silwan
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
1:00:00 17:00 18:00 Discussion with Dr. Amani Odeh and Fakhri Abu Diab of Al Bustan neighborhood
What: Local leaders discuss the issues that are impacting their community, including home demolitions, lack of
planning and services, and one of the highest rates of child arrests in Jerusalem.
Why: This presentation is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional Staff’s official duties
because it provides insight into local issues from the perspective of female members of the community, as well
as other local leaders.
Presenter: Mr. Fahkri Abu Diab and Dr. Amani Odeh
Location: Al Bustan neighborhood, Silwan
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
18:00 18:15 Minibus to St. George Hotel
18:15 18:30 Free Time
0:45:00 18:30 19:15 Dinner at Saint George Hotel with Andrea DiDomenico of UNOCHA
0:15:00 19:15 19:30 Walking to U.N. Office near hotel
1:30:00 19:30 21:00 Discussion with Samer Abdel Jaber & Andrea DiDomenico
What: Discussion of the humanitarian need and relief required in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza,
and possible underlying reasons for this ongoing crisis.
Why: Discussing the impact of U.S. aid in the region is relevant to the mission of this trip. This discussion
revolved around funding to UNOCHA and the World Food Programme, and what funds are needed; discussing
the potential humanitarian and security concerns that are related to the lack of funding for these food and
social programs.
Presenters: Samer Abdel Jaber (WFP head and U.N. Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator), Andrea DiDomenico
(special assistant to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator)
Location: U.N. Office, East Jerusalem
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 8
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
21:00 21:15 Walking back to hotel; Overnight at St. George Hotel, East Jerusalem
9:45:00
Start
Time
End
Time Tuesday May 31, 2022: Ramallah, Al Aqaba, Al Maleh, Al Auja, Dead Sea, Jericho
8:00 9:00 Breakfast at Saint George Hotel
9:00 Meet in lobby to depart for day
1:00:00 9:00 10:00 Transportation by bus to Ramallah
What: Guide to discuss route between Jerusalem and Ramallah, including checkpoints/separation wall, and
introduce Ramallah as the current capital of the P.A.
Tour Guide: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour guide
Location: Jerusalem-Ramallah
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
1:00:00 10:00 11:00 Meeting with P.A. Minister of Health, Dr. Mai Kaleh
What: Our delegation will meet with the Minister of Health to discuss current challenges facing the P.A. in the
health care sector, including Covid-19, malnutrition, PKU, etc.
Why:This presentation is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties
because this visit meets one major goal of this trip: to provide participants with an understanding of how US
aid benefits the health and education of Palestinian children.
Presenter: Minister of Health Dr. Mai Kaleh
Location: Ministry of Health building in Ramallah
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
1:00:00 11:00 12:00 Transportation by bus to Firing Zone 900
What: Tour Guide to discuss the previous meeting with P.A. Health Ministry, as well as introduce the Jordan
Valley area we will be visiting.
Tour Guide: Itamar Shapirra, LLM tour guide
Location: Ramallah-Al Aqaba
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 9
0:45:00 12:00 12:45 Al Aqaba Village Meeting
What: This is the first Palestinian Village in Area C to issue its own building permits — and for the 12 years,
no demolition orders were issued agains the new homes — that changed in January, placing the whole village
at risk of demolition and expecially the homes under construction. The walking tour of Al Aqaba’s
kindergarten, tea factory, community park, goat cheese factory, and past the homes that were finished
without demolition orders. Rebuilding Alliance was instrumental in helping build the kindergarten and in
2011, we organized a design charrette to help villagers design and build their own homes. Rebuilding Alliance
worked with the Al Aqaba Housing Cooperative to launch the Rebuilding to Remain home construction
finance program, and we crowd-funded affordable loans for the construction of three homes. The people of
the village have continued to build in accordance with their village-issued building permits and a remarkable
town has taken shape.
Why: This tour is relevant to the House staff’s official duties because (1) it is important to see what a
Palestinian village looks like when the village is allowed to thrive, (2) seeing this will allow House staff to
consider how U.S. policy and aid can support the aspirations of Palestinian village who seek to stay on their
land by preventing the demolition of Palestinian homes, schools, and neighborhoods, and (3) to hear from this
important Palestinian leader who is working to safeguard human rights.
Note: Rebuilding Alliance continues to crowdfund and provide grants for the kindergarten in Al Aqaba as well
as to the Al Aqaba Housing Cooperative Association for their home construction finance program.
Tour Guide: Khaled Sawafta (Head of Village Council), Rawheye Alsbaih (Chair of the Rural Women’s
Association), Hisham Sbaih (Chair of the Al Aqaba Cooperative Assembly for Housing the Displaced & Head
of Agricultural Association)
Location: Al Aqaba
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:55:00 12:45 13:40 Walking Tour, visit Sahar & Ismael’s home, and possibly other homes too
13:40 14:15 Lunch at the Rural Women’s Association Dining Room
14:15 15:00 Minibus Departure
0:30:00 15:00 15:30 Meet with principal of Al-Maleh School
What: Al Maleh School is an important school to the local inhabitants- it allows children from nearby areas the
chance to have an education. Last year, the Israeli Army confiscated the portable classroom and shade
structures. Israeli settlers stole their water tanks. RA has partnered with Middle East Children’s Alliance to
bring this back
Why: Staff will learn about the the issues impacting education for Palestinian children, particularly in remote
and rural areas. They will also have the opportunity to be introduced to RA advocacy work to see the impact
that the occupation has on education.
Presenter: Principal Jafar Fuqha
Location: Al Maleh Elementary School
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 10
15:30 16:00 Transportation by bus to al-Auja
1:00:00 16:00 17:00 Meeting with Rabbi Arik Ascherman and Bedouin Shepherds in al-Auja
What: The Israeli settlement movement openly advocates for the creation of “agricultural settlements” to
plunder or destroy Palestinian crops, and disrupt traditional sheepherding to damage the food supply and
threaten the farmers and herders to make them up and leave. Palestinians in this rural area face land, crop,
and water theft and settler violence.
Why: This is related to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties because part of our
mission is to meet with people and groups working to bring peace and security for all.
Presenters: Rabbi Arik Ascherman, from Torat Tzedek, Bedouin shepherds
Location: Al-Auja countryside
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
17:00 17:30 Transportation by bus to Dead Sea
0:30:00 17:30 18:30 Discussion of the day’s activities, debrief
What: Debriefing of a long day of activities, and a visit to the Dead Sea
Why: Discussion time to process and reflect on the large amount of various activities and a time for questions
is essential.
Presenters: Donna Baranski-Walker (Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance), Elias (Executive Director, HLT),
Location: Dead Sea
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
18:30 19:00 Minibus to the Green Valley Restaurant, Jericho
19:00 20:30 Dinner at The Green Valley, a Jericho Restaurant
6:40:00 20:30 22:00 Minibus back to Saint George Hotel; Overnight at St. George Hotel
Start
Time
End
Time Wednesday June 1, 2022: Ofer Prison, then Tel Aviv
7:00 8:00 Breakfast
1:30:00 8:30 10:00 Presentation by Military Court Watch
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 11
What: Military Court Watch will introduce their work to the delegation, and prepare them with context and
background information to their visit to Ofer Prison.
Why: Because the key goal of this LLM is to explore how the peaceful aspirations of all can be furthered when
Palestinians and Israelis both enjoy equal rights, it is important for Congressional staff to observe this
separate, unequal form of juvenile justice.
Presenters: Gerard Horton and Salwa Duiabis, Military Court Watch
Location: Meeting room in the St. George Hotel, East Jerusalem
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:30:00 10:00 10:30 Transportation by bus to Ofer Military Prison
2:00:00 10:30 12:30 Observation of court proceedings
What: Observation of court proceedings for cases of Palestinian child prisoners. Military Court Watch
(MCW)’s work is guided by the basic principle that children detained by the Israeli military authorities are
entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under international law. Further, and in accordance with
the principle that no State is permitted to discriminate between those over whom it exercises penal
jurisdiction, there is no legal justification for treating Palestinian and Israeli children differently under Israel’s
military and civilian legal systems. In accordance with these principles, MCW advocates, and where
appropriate, litigates, to ensure that all children that come in contact with the military legal system are treated
fairly and in accordance with the law.
Why: Because the key goal of this LLM is to explore how the peaceful aspirations of all can be furthered when
Palestinians and Israelis both enjoy equal rights, it is important for Congressional staff to observe this
separate, unequal form of juvenile justice.
Tour Guides: Gerard Horton, Salwa Duaibis, Military Court Watch
Location: Ofer Military Court, just outside the Palestinian town of Beitunia
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
12:30 13:45 Lunch on the bus enroute to Tel Aviv
13:45 14:00 Security to enter US Embassy-Tel Aviv Annex
1:30:00 14:00 15:30
Brian M. Grimm, Political Counselor, | U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy Jerusalem – Embassy Branch
Office Tel Aviv
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 12
What: Meeting with Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Branch
Why: Discussing the structure of the U.S. Embassy and State Dept. presence in the region and why there are
different entities to deal with the Israeli and Palestinian governments.We will have just come from visiting
Ofer Prison with Military Court Watch, amongst many other visits. The group will likely have an opportunity
to ask questions regarding official U.S. policies in the region.
Presenter: Brian M. Grimm, Political Counselor and Nicholas A. Engquist
Location: U.S. Embassy Branch Office, Tel Aviv
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
15:30 15:45 Transportation by minibus to office of Gisha
0:30:00 15:45 16:15 Meeting with representatives from the NGO Gisha
What: Gisha is an organization that works to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, mostly those
that live in Gaza.
Why: This is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties because one of the
goals of our trip is to meet groups working towards peace. Meeting Israelis who work and advocate on behalf
of Palestinians is part of this. The siege on Gaza has had a major impact on peace and security in the entire
region.
Presenter: Rebecca Lederkramer
Location: Office of Gisha, Tel Aviv
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
16:15 16:30 Walking to the nearby law office of Adv. Michael Sfard
0:45:00 16:30 17:15 Meeting with Michael Sfard
What: Meeting with a prominent Israeli attorney that Rebuilding Alliance works with. One of the discussion
topics will center on Palestinian civil society and the recent designation of 6 key Palestinian CSOs as illegalthis
designation was made last October and still has not been seen as having any merit for most of the
international community. Solutions for how to continue to support Palestinian civil society will be discussed.
Both speakers will present an overview of history, policies, and what has led to the current crisis.
Why: This is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s official duties because one of the
goals of our trip is to meet groups working towards peace. Meeting Israelis who work and advocate on behalf
of Palestinians is part of this. For peace and stability to be achieved, Palestinian civil society must be supported
and strengthened.
Presenter: Adv. Michael Sfard Yesh Din
Location: Michael Sfard’s Law Office in Tel Aviv
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
17:15 17:30 Walking back to the Office of Gisha
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 13
0:45:00 17:30 18:15 Teleconference with Gazans
What: We will meet, via teleconference, with RA staff and partner organizations that are based in Gaza to
hear about their work and their lives, and the challenges faced with living under a prolonged siege.
Why: This is relevant to the mission and to the Congressional staff’s official duties because Gaza has been
under blockade for nearly 15 years now. This has brought humanitarian issues to the forefront- but also
security issues. Discussing life in Gaza will allow staffers to see what is happening there, and how it impacts
the prospect for peace and security for all in the region.
Presenter: Heba Khozondar and Nesbah, RA staff in Gaza
Location: Gisha Offices, Tel Aviv
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
18:15 19:15 Transportation by minibus to the Saint George Hotel
19:15 20:15 Late Dinner at the St George Hotel; Overnight at the St George Hotel, Jerusalem
7:30:00
Start
Time
End
Time Thursday June 2, 2022: J Hebron, then South Hebron Hills/Masafer Yatta
7:00 8:00 Early Breakfast
1:00:00 8:00 9:00 Transportation by bus to Hebron
2:00:00 9:00 11:00 Tour of Palestinian Access Side Hebron
What: The issue of Palestinian homes being taken over by Israeli settlers is prevalent in Hebron. An
understanding of the city will help the delegation learn what this means for Palestinian homeowners. The
delegation will also visit the Ibrahimi Mosque and other historical sites of importance.
Why: A major objective is to provide the Congressional Staff with an understanding of the history of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict leading to the current conditions and any discussion of that history must include
discussion of the historical sites and current conditions in Hebron.
Presenter: Tariq Tamimi, Founding Director, Hebron Chamber of Commerce and industry
Location: Old City, Hebron
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:45:00 11:00 11:45 Transit from Hebron to Susiya
0:45:00 11:45 12:30 Overview of the history of the Palestinian village of Susiya
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 14
What: Overview of the history of the Palestinian village of Susiya. In 2013, the Sub-Committee for Planning
and Licensing of the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Council rejected the village’s proposed master
plan stating that the “women and children would be better off living somewhere else.” In 2015, Israel’s High
Court decided that the Palestinian Village of Susiya can be demolished before its case is even heard, and the
case is still pending. We’ll hear their story and learn of their aspirations to see the recognition of their master
plan and live and build their future on their land without fear of demolition.
Why: A key goal of this LLM is to consider the implications and impact of Israeli control of building and
planning rights in Jerusalem and the West Bank and explore ways to prevent the demolition of Palestinian
homes, schools, barns, and neighborhoods. Susiya is also an example of a place that is still standing today
because of Congressional intervention.
Presenters: Nasser Nawaja, spokesperson of the Susiya Village Council and B’Tselem Regional Staff, Fatma
Nawaja – head of Susiya Rural Women’s Association and Social Worker with Rebuilding Alliance
Location: Inside the tent home of the spokesperson for the Palestinian village of Susiya in the South Hebron
Hills
Assurance:The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
12:30 1:30 Lunch in Susya
1:30 1:45 Transit by tour bus to village of At-Tuwani
1:15:00 1:45 3:00 At-Tuwani meeting w/ Youth of Sumud
What: At-Tuwani is one of only six villages in Area C granted a master plan by the Israeli Army (2013). As
such, it should be safe from demolition — but five homes and a youth center are facing demolition orders.
Youth of Sumud, founded in 2017, is a Palestinian grassroots human rights org that advocates principles of
nonviolence in all community-building activities in the South Hebron Hills Region of the West Bank. The
Youth of Sumud Center is an activities center and a guest house for Americans, Canadians, and Israelis. It
serves as the main office of Youth of Sumud since settlers destroyed their building in nearby Sarura in June
2021.
Why: A core goal of the trip is to bring staffers to visit Palestinians and Israelis who work for peace and justice,
to understand the challenges they are facing, learn about their efforts including joint efforts to address those
challenges, and consider what Congress is uniquely able to do to support such efforts.
Location: Youth of Sumud Center, At-Tuwani
Presenters: Sami Hureini, Youth of Sumud, co-Founder.
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:30:00 15:00 15;30 Meet Nidal Younis, Masafer Yatta Village Council Head
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 15
What: At-Tuwani is also the gateway to the threatened Masafer Yatta region. Currently designated as Firing
Zone 918. Despite having inhabited the area for generations, 12 villages are facing eviction and demolition in
this area. These actions are widely perceived as a preliminary to Israeli seizure of the land. A pivotal court
ruling in May allows the military to forcibly evict the residents.
Why: A core goal of the trip is to consider the implications and impact of Israeli control of building and
planning rights in the West Bank and explore successful ways to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes,
schools, water systems, and neighborhoods.
Presenter: Nidal Younis, Head of Masafer Yatta Villages Council
Location: At-Tuwani Youth of Sumud Center
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
15:30 16:15 Walk to the village of Rakeez (10 min); discussion.
What: Rakeez is one of the 12 Masafer Yatta villages whose case will soon be decided by Israel’s High Court.
Demolition of their homes has meant that many families returned to living in caves. A young man from this
village, Harun abu Aram, was shot by the Israeli military last year and remains paralyzed.
Why: This discussion and visit is relevant to the mission of the trip and the Congressional staff’s duties
because the forced relocation of the villages of Masafer Yatta is illegal under international law. The case is
gaining international attention with 2 Congressional letters having been sent to the U.S. Secretary of State
urging intervention.
Presenter: Nidal Younis, Head of Masafer Yatta Villages Council
Location: Village of Rakeez
Assurance:The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
1:45:00 16:15 18:00 Transit by tour bus past Mufaqarra, and Khirbet Al Dale to Um Al Kheir Village
What:The drive will provide a sense of the cost to these communities of the Firing Zone areas. The delegation
then travels to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Umm Al Kheir, immediately adjacent to the Israeli
settlement of Carmel.
Why: This is relevant to the mission of the trip and the staff’s official duties because it shows the challenges of
settler incursion into village lands and the impact of discriminatory planning regimens.
Presenter: Eid Suleiman, artist, activist, and staff of Rebuilding Alliance, a resident of Umm Al Kheir who
presented to Congress in 2017 and 2018
Location: Masafer Yatta
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
18:00 19:30 Transit back to hotel
19:30 20:30 Dinner at hotel
8:00:00 Overnight at the St George Hotel, Jerusalem
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 16
Start
Time
End
Time Friday June 3, 2022: US Embassy, Journalist Safety, Khan al Ahmar, Wahat al-Salam
6:30 7:00 Quick, early breakfast at the Hotel
7:00 7:15 Check out of hotel
7:15 8:00 Minibus to U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
8:00 8:15 Clear Security check at U.S. Embassy, Jerusalem
0:50:00 8:15 9:05 Meeting with Desiree Baron and Jill Hutchings, U.S. Embassy, Jerusalem
What: Meeting with PAU political affairs officers at the U.S. Embassy. This meeting will include a discussion
about the State Department’s role in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Congressional staff and guests will
have the opportunity to ask questions about the “on the ground” operating environment.
Why: This ‘off the record’ disscussion is relevant to the House staff’s official duties because the U.S. Embassy
will present the official U.S. policy on the many topics of special interest to the delegation including
discussions we held earlier in the week: East Jerusalem and Palestinian Area C planning issues, human rights,
child detentions, Gaza aid, Israel and Palestinian safety and security, prospects for return of confiscated
portable school classrooms, and hope for peace agreements.
Presenter: Desiree Baron, Jill Hutchings
Location: U.S. Embassy annex, Jerusalem, 18 Agron Road
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
9:15 10:15 Coffee break at Mamilla Shopping Center
0:15:00 10:15 10:30 Minibus to meet with Shirin Abu Akhleh’s family, Beit Hanina
1:00:00 10:30 11:30 Meeting with the family of journalist Shirin Abu Akhleh, Beit Hanina
What: In recent weeks, the issue of journalist safety and threats to journalism in Israel and the West Bank have
come to the forefront of news, even in the United States, as Shireen was killed by an Israeli soldier and she is
an American citizen.
Why: According to Reporters Without Borders, 35 journalists have been killed in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories by the Israeli military since 2000. The U.S. State Dept. has visited the Abu Akleh family and
offered condolences. A Congressional letter to the State Dept. and the FBI calls for an American
investigation, since Israel announced they won’t investigate further. Meeting with the family will give the
delegation an opportunity to discuss what happened to Shireen, and also discuss the broader issue of
journalism under attack in the area.
Presenter: Anton Abu Akleh (Shireen’s uncle)
Location: Beit Hanina (East Jerusalem)
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 17
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity.
0:30:00 11:30 12:00 Minibus to Khan al Ahmar
1:00:00 12:00 13:00 Meeting Abu Khamees and residents of Khan al Ahmar
What: Khan Al Ahmar, a Bedouin community standing between Jerusalem and the E1 corridor/Maale Adumim
settlelemnt bloc, has long been threatened with forced displacement. This village, which predates the
settlements around it, is one of the last Palestinian villages standing in the way of connecting the massive
Maale Adumim settlement bloc to Jerusalem. Our meetings are with local leaders and residents to discuss the
history of the area, the current legal standing of the court case filed against the community pressing for
relocation, the recurring attacks by some of the settlers who live in the neighboring Kfar Adumim, and the
efforts by other Kfar Adumim settlers to keep them safe.
Why: E1 refers to the area between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim- a massive bloc of settlements outside
Jerusalem and in the West Bank. The small Bedouin community of Khan Al Ahmar has been at the center of
court cases in Israel for years, with the State wanting the community evacuated, and moved elsewhere. They
say it is for the community’s own good, but the skeptics say it is to remove the final barrier to making Maale
Adumim part of the Greater Jerusalem area and Israel proper. This area has received much international
support from Europe and the U.S., that has helped keep it standing for now.
Presenter: Eid Abu Khamees Jahalin
Location: Khan Al Ahmar
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
13:00 14:00 Lunch in Khan al Ahmar
1:00:00 14:00 15:00 Meeting with Dr. Danny Turner of Kfar Adumim
What: Meeting with a local leader from the settlement nearby to Khan Al Ahmar, Kfar Adumim
Why: This is relevant to the mission of the trip because one of the things that our program is exploring is ways
that various groups, from both sides, are able to come together to work towards peace. Contrary to the
overriding narrative, there are some Israelis living in Israeli settlements who are working to help ensure that
their Palestinian neighbors are able to stay on their land. Khan Al Ahmar, long a community facing court cases
and potential displacement, is one such community. Some of the Israelis in Kfar Adumim speak out to keep
Khan Al Ahmar standing.
Presenter: Dr. Danny Turner
Location: Khan Al Ahmar
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
15:00 15:30
Minibus to Lifta Park next to Bayt Iqsa. Because the road to Bayt Iqsa was in disrepair, we transferred to
private SUV’s to make the drive.
1:30 15:00 16:30 Meeting with Mahmoud Salhiah
Rebuilding Alliance NoDel May 28-Jun 3 2022 Page 18
What: Mahmoud Salhiah and his wife Lital had their home in Sheikh Jarrah demolished in January. Rebuilding
Alliance brought their case before Congressional staff to explain what it was that happened and possible
remedies. The family now hopes to buy land in the town of Bayt Iqsa, overlooking historical Lifta and the
village of Ein Karem (where Mahmoud’s grandfather and his family lived before being expelled in 1948) and
build a new home and work the land.
Why: This is related to the mission of the trip because one the goals of the trip is to understand the impact of
home demolitions on Palestinian communities- and to discuss the broader implications of actions such as
home demolitions, and what impact they have on the possibility of peace and reconciliation.
Presenter: Mahmoud Salhiah and guide Itamar Shapirra
Location: a private home in Bayt Iqsa
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
16:30 17:00 Minibus to Wahat al- Salam/Neve Shalom
0:30 17:00 17:30 Meeting with Mayor Rita Boulos of Wahat al- Salam/Neve Shalom
17:30 19:15 Farewell Dinner at Wahat al-Salam Restaurant
What: Farewell Dinner and time for reflection in this intentionally mixed Jewish/Palestinianin Community.
Why: Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom (WAS- is a village
of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel dedicated
to building justice, peace and equality in the country and the region. Situated equidistant from Jerusalem and
Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the community was established in 1970 by Fr. Bruno Hussar on land of the Latrun Monastery. It
is a model of equality, mutual
respect and partnership that challenges existing patterns of racism and
discrimination as well as the continued conflict. The community has established educational institutions based
on its ideals and conducts
activities focused on social and political change. Many of the village members work
in peace, justice and reconciliation projects. It has a population
of 70+ families and will grow to 150 families.
Location: Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom (a village in Israel)
Presenter: Donna Baranski-Walker (RA Executive Director), Elias D’eis (HLT Executive Director), Itamar
Shapirra (LLM Tour Guide)
Assurance: The entirety of allotted time will be covering officially-connected activity
6:35 19:15 19:45 Minibus Tel Aviv, delegation ends

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https://www.rebuildingalliance.org/new-blog/2022/1/28/umm-al-khair-hajj-suleimans-funeral-by-david-shulman-and-margaret-olin
Umm al-Khair, Hajj Suleiman’s Funeral by David Shulman and Margaret Olin

January 20, 2022

Hajj Suleiman Hadhalin

He was like one of those rocky hills in South Hebron, a living, breathing, feeling mass of sunlight, rain, wind, earth, and stone. Though he wasn’t all that tall, he always dwarfed everyone around him. The soldiers and the border police were afraid of him, because he told them the truth and gave no quarter.

He was unafraid. He hated violence. Israel hurt him into fiery protest—everywhere where wrong was being done, he was there, that is, everywhere in South Hebron. Countless times he faced the soldiers down and shamed them with his words. He was the father of our good friend, ‘Id. I’ve known him for close to twenty years. I thought he was indestructible. I was wrong. They got him. He died a particularly horrible death at the hands of his enemies. His name was Hajj Suleiman Hadhalin.

I last saw him about a month ago, at Tuba, where, as so often, the soldiers had arrested him. He had turned up to harangue them for what they were doing to the people of Tuba. They had him sitting, handcuffed, for some hours in an army jeep with a soldier. The soldier was sick and at one point passed out. Hajj Suleiman, true to character, managed somehow to catch the soldier’s head and hold it in his hands before it collided with the metal dashboard.

January 5, 2022. Hajj Suleiman came home to Umm al-Khair from a funeral. It was early afternoon. The driver of a police tow-truck, accompanied by another car with a policeman and a soldier, was busy confiscating unlicensed cars. I’d better say something about the unlicensed cars, mashtubot, as they’re called in Arabized Hebrew. There are lots of them in the South Hebron hills. That’s partly because the army won’t let Palestinians build roads, so they are left with the dirt paths filled with potholes and jagged rocks, and they have to use those roads to get water and other necessities. Any car wears out after a couple of years on those paths. For cars to be roadworthy, it helps to have roads.

Apart from that, Israel controls the importing of any vehicles from Israel into the West Bank. The supply is severely limited, and the price of second-hand vehicles is over ten times higher than their cost in Israel. Since Palestinian shepherds and farmers can’t afford to buy halfway-decent second-hand cars, they buy these barely viable wrecks, most of them brought into Palestine allegedly for repairs but then sold. There is no way they would be licensed. Then the police, and sometimes even the Palestinian Authority, come, as logic demands, to confiscate them. For the owners, the risk of driving an unlicensed car is no doubt less than the risk of death by thirst or starvation.

That afternoon the confiscation was proceeding apace, and the villagers came to watch, and some of them may have thrown some rocks, though Hajj Suleiman pleaded with them not to. Then he stood, as always, smack in front of the tow-truck and wouldn’t budge. And the driver, a settler from Kiryat Arba’, drove right over him and dragged him for some ten meters over the rocks. Later, the police released an obviously mendacious version of what happened, including a poignant, also ironic, final sentence affirming that “the police will continue to do whatever has to be done in order to ensure good governance (mshilut).” They said the driver of the tow-truck and the other two were afraid, which might be true. The camera in the tow-truck probably recorded those moments, but it’s not at all certain, or even likely, that anyone will ever get to watch that footage.

There wasn’t much left of Hajj Suleiman after being run over. He had a gaping hole in his skull, his spinal cord, his pelvis, and many of his inner organs were crushed, he was bleeding profusely, and of course he was unconscious. The driver and the other police car took off without even stopping to see what had happened to their victim, the person they had just mortally injured, or calling an ambulance—as anyone involved in an accident is required to do by Israeli law. They presumably didn’t think that an elderly Palestinian man fits the category of “person.”

The villagers got him to hospital, where he lingered, unconscious, for a few days, but in fact, as ‘Id says, he was no longer alive in any meaningful sense when he got there. The people of Umm al-Khair have been orphaned.

The South Hebron Hills were closed down today in his honor, and thousands came to accompany him to his grave in the village cemetery deep in the wadi, at the edge of the desert. Umm al-Khair has never seen such a crowd.

The slopes were alive with people, mostly men, a vast cascade pouring downhill to the grave site. No one, with the possible and intermittent exception of our activists, was wearing a mask. Some men had their faces covered with their white or checked keffiyeh.

The bier passed beside me, the body draped in a Palestinian flag. Women are not supposed to come to the cemetery, so Peg joined them at a high vantage point in the village …

where a ban on photographing the women’s faces, and reticence, prevented her from documenting the tears, prayers, the warm welcome from old and new friends, and the occasional outburst that greeted her.

I couldn’t walk all the way down because of a torn ligament, but I hobbled far enough to be able to hear the eulogy and the prayers. The words were moderate and restrained compared to other speeches I’ve heard. “The Palestinian people continuously faces the forces of oppression, zulum—settlements, army, police, all of them stealing more and more land. We face them here in Umm al-Khair and in Twaneh and in Susya and in Mufagara and in Yata and in al-Khalil and everywhere else. We refuse to give in. We persist, we will face them in the name of Hajj Suleiman, who died a martyr; for his sake, and for the nobility of his soul and his courage, we will go on, if necessary forever, or until justice is done. God will be with us.”

It was like listening to the desert singing, in wave after wave, a threnody for a rare being. A cold, sun-drenched day, the hills of Moav across the River glowing in every crack and crevice. I sat on a rock, trying to believe that Hajj Suleiman, one of the most alive human beings I’ve known, had somehow been compressed into that green-draped bier. I watched the men go down and, an hour later, climb back up. Many friends were there: ‘Ali ‘Awad from Tuba; Nasser from Susya; Ramzi, Harun’s father, from A-Rakiz. Enough tragedy and suffering to go around. Many I didn’t know greeted me with words of welcome. Everyone knows of Ta’ayush in the South Hebron hills.

I was thinking: there is no end to the utter foolishness of Israel; they think they can pen all these people in as if they were goats and leave them to die of sorrow and thirst, they think they can take all their land and kill some of them day by day, and get away with it, since no one even notices, and someday the Palestinians will give up; but the very idea is absurd. Someday there will be an end.

For what it’s worth, I mention this thought to Amiel as we sit outside the mourners’ tent after we have made the rounds inside, speaking the formulas of comfort. “May the days he—Hajj Suleiman—wasn’t able to live be accredited to your account.” And so on. And Amiel says, “So far that absurd idea is working quite well.”

Text © 2022 David Shulman

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