Overview of the 2015 Fall semester
The board of FFIPP Europe has been working hard to acquire funding from donors, charitable organisations and government sources so as to ensure that in 2016 FFIPP we will once again be able to send 30 students to Palestine and to Israel in order to learn more about the situation joining our international educational network for human rights.
In June FFIPP hosted a preparation weekend in order for the older members to pass on, to brief the new one. It was a perfect time to enjoy a 2 days break out of the European capitals and to learn to know each other sharing some good time. FFIPP gave few introductory lectures about the legal, geopolitical, historical situation and few practical workshops to prepare the new ones for the departure, the stay and the cultural differences.
In early October FFIPP hosted a kick off weekend. This time the older members not only passed on their knowledge but also their positions. Indeed the new board was elected and the different European teams constituted. This weekend was also very important for FFIPP because it gathered: one of the founder, Yoav Elinevsky, some members who went on the field years ago, still eager to help, and the new FFIPPies. It allowed us to discuss some important points, including the financial situation, the handover, and most importantly FFIPP values.
Thanks to the work we’ve done all together, FFIPP council was created. This umbrella council is composed of previous board members willing to use their expertise and experience to help and advise the current FFIPP members.
Also FFIPP Europe wrote a charter for the new members’ work to be properly effective, and to keep the “family spirit” that federates us while working in close collaboration in the different teams.
The first weekend of February we will gather for a third FFIPP weekend in order to work on the summer program, to define collegially what to keep and what to modify from our own experience. Moreover FFIPP would like to write a guide with the basics about the situation: dates, figures (…) as well as movies, books (…) that must be seen, read, to fully explore the situation.
Over the past few months FFIPP Europe updated its facebook page with pictures, thoughts and anecdotes in order to illustrate in a simple and personal way the reality on the field. Let’s see an example through Ludovico’s eyes (from the Swiss chapter).
“Where were you at this point and why was it part of the summer program?
I was in Susya, a Palestinian village located in the South Hebron hills (Area C) and threatened with demolition by Israeli authorities.
There we met with representatives of the village and discussed issues such as living conditions in Area C, house demolitions, and acts of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against both Palestinians living in Susya and their property. The villagers stressed the importance of the presence of international volunteers among them, since this contributes to reducing the likelihood of settler attacks and, at the same time, increases the pressure on Israeli authorities with regards to the potential demolition of the village.
This picture captures the moment where, listening to a presentation delivered by an international volunteer, I heard the loud ringtone of an antiquated Nokia mobile phone. I turned around and saw an old (and probably short-sighted) Palestinian man holding the ringing phone in his hand and trying to figure out how to answer. As the mobile phone kept on ringing, he saw me, approached me and told me something in Arabic while pointing at the phone. I took it, pressed the answer button and gave it back. “Shukran!”, he said, before starting his phone conversation.
What surprised you most during your time in Israel and Palestine?
The scope of the occupation is certainly striking, but the two things, which surprised me most, are: first, the diversity of the Israeli society and its deeply militarized character. Second, the divisions between different Palestinian actors with regards to the solution of the conflict (i.e. one vs. two-state solution; borders; the question of Palestinian refugees; the fate of the settlements).”
Each chapter started the year with a meeting to introduce the association to other students, share our own experiences on the field and to discuss on themes we could work on this year.
The French capital has a lot to offer in terms of cultural events and many of them related to FFIPP matters. This is why the Paris chapter tried to identify valuable events, in order to present a broad spectrum of propositions for students from different universities. We’ve pinned few of them, on which we received very positive feedbacks.
Amnesty International Human Rights festival
Amnesty International Paris organised a weeklong cinema and human rights festival. Among the masterpieces projected, we’ve highlighted the diffusion of “Dégradé”. Dégradé is a movie from the twin brothers Nasser. It gathers women into a beauty salon in Gazan war zone. The approach is a very interesting one; indeed the conflict-taking place outside does not oppose Palestians to Israelis, but the ruling government of Hamas to various influential families.
We won’t say one more word not to spoil the movie.
2 colloquiums took place in the Palais du Luxembourg: the first one about: “The daily life in the occupied territories” and the second one about “Palestinians in Israel”. All the students who went send us very positive feedbacks and really appreciated the quality and accessibility of the speakers.
The association Politeia organised a conference on the topic “Are anti-Semitism and Islamophobia rising in France? ” Some of our members were present and shared a falafel with other students at the end in order to look deeper into the question.
Palestine: la case prison
“Palestine: la case prison” is a documentary from Franck Salomé focusing on the Palestinian political prisoners and the violations of the international law. It gathers interviews from prisoners, their family, former soldiers, Palestinian, Israeli, international lawyers. The projection was followed by a debate animated by the filmmaker, Franck Salomé, and the director of al-Haq vice-president of the FIDH, Shaban Jabarin.
One of our members worked in al-Haq this summer, during her summer program. Thus we had the chance to go for a drink with Shaban Jabarin, after the debate and longer reflect on the subject.
FFIPP Paris also published an article in an online student newspaper “La péniche”. The article is untitled “fragments of a trip in Israel and in Palestine”. We’ve tried to write down, to set with black ink some parts of our experience this summer.
Collaboration with Mémoire de l’Avenir
Memoire de l’Avenir is an association incorporating the competence of artists and scholars in order to pass on new outlooks that develop a better acceptance of our cultural differences and facilitate an open dialogue between the people of our world.
FFIPP was invited to share a breakfast, organized by Mémoire de l’avenir to meet the representatives of the association, their partners and to further discuss on how to work in collaboration. We had few meetings, and in 2016 we will try to materialise a project, most probably in their gallery for our students to share with the people from the 20th arrondissement a common experience.
n order to discover the kind of events offered by Mémoire de l’avenir, FFIPP was also invited to the preview of Deborah Sfez, an Israeli artist, who trough her (self) portraits, represents the eternal quest for identities, her identity and ours.
” I am standing here in front of you. I can move my right hand. I can move my left hand. My head turns. My lips can move. And I can sing […] every day I go to sleep. I disappear in darkness. Then wake up to another day. [From the video Mirabella]
Since the security measures stepped up in Paris after the tragic November events, some of FFIPP planned events could not take place anymore. Nevertheless FFIPP Paris will launch in 2016 many other events, and actually set up the planned ones.
The local chapter has hosted and planned a variety of events. In early December it organised a book launch for Jeff Halper’s newest book “War against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification”. Jeff Halper is an American-born anthropologist, author, lecturer and political activist who has lived in Israel since 1973. Several 2015 interns worked with Halper this summer, conducting research and producing explorations of Israeli policy and its international relations. His new book has been described as an ‘disturbing insight into the new ways world powers such as the US, Israel and China forge war today’.
This January the chapter has planned an event exploring the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel and the ideology behind it. In late February they will be hosting and event in which the interns of 2015 will be discussing their experiences in Israel and Palestine. In April the chapter will be hosting a lecture exploring anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The final event of this academic year will be looking into Palestinian children in imprisonment.
The local chapter will be hosting an event in January, which provides an overview of the Israeli occupation and its everyday realities for Palestinians. Speakers will include Lana Ramadan, a resident of Bethlehem currently undertaking a Masters in Human Rights at LSE, Ben White, a British journalist and human rights activist who specialises in Palestine/Israel and a representative from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, a legal charity that works on projects focused on protecting and promoting Palestinian human rights.
The chapter also plans to hold subsequent events specialising in particular issues such as the problem facing Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel’s control of water and checkpoints.
As the majority of the chapter’s members have been scattered around the world due to job commitments, remaining members have focused on small informal events such as a concert which provided Palestinian food, the selling of postcards and pictures and fundraising actions.
FFIPP Grenoble hosted a very successful and interactive meeting, gathering many students and introducing the situation and some of the key issues we’ve notices, or even experienced during our stay in Israel and Palestine.
FFIPP Bordeaux organised a projection of Charles Enderlin last documentary: In the Name of the Temple.
This documentary from such a famous and respected journalist is a carefully researched movie.
It explicates how the rise of Jewish nationalistic fundamentalism led to the settlement movement in the West Bank. According to Charles Enderlin, because of the role of so many key figures on both sides, the settlements have now reached the point of no return. He raises the question of the viability of a two state solution.
This event was followed by a debate among the students and led to very fruitful exchanges
FFIPP Belgium & FFIPP Italy?
FFIPP executive board is currently discussing on whether to create FFIPP Belgium and FFIPP Italy. Few of its members are highly motivated to open chapters there. Obviously everyone is very enthusiastic about this idea, and setting up in new cities always represents a very positive step. Nonetheless some financial considerations have to be taken into account, and accompanying the existing chapters is our priority.
Nb: One of our members lives in Argentina and also tries to raise awareness there on this matter.
The first semester always essentially focus on planning events, fundraising, and consolidating the new teams. Most of the planned events will actually take place during the second half of the year.
Another essential task for FFIPP Europe, during the second semester, is to prepare the 2016 summer program.