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“Welcome to Palestine” initiative July 8-16 challenges Israel's air blockade
by PJN
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 1:21 AM
Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem believes this will be a "summer of change." One year after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, during which the Israeli military killed nine Turkish passengers, Palestinian, Israeli, American and German activists met in Berlin: the focus for this coming summer is not only the Israeli blockade against Gaza, but also the one around the West Bank. On July 8 hundreds of activists – about 500 estimated so far — from all over the world will converge on Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, and this time they will not lie about their reason for being there. They will openly and truthfully declare to the Israeli security that they are there to go to the West Bank to help the people there and participate in nonviolent solidarity actions.

Press Release بيان صحفي
(English, Arabic Below العربية تحت)
الرجاء تعميم. Please forward this version

Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July 8-16 activities

Some 40 Palestinian civil society organizations, popular resistance committees, and political factions announce the launching of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative July 8-16 where hundreds of Internationals will work with hundreds of Palestinians for Peace. The hundreds of men, women, and children will arrive July 8 at the Lod Airport. The international community must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force us to speak less than with full honesty.

This July initiative comes in a planned series of events and follows similar events carried out in December under the slogan of "ending apartheid and ethnic cleansing." The week of activities starts on July 9 because that is the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling about the illegality of the Settlements and the apartheid wall in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society Call to Action: July 9 Ramallah area, July 10 Bethlehem area, July 11 North, July 12 Hebron and Jordan Valley, July 13 Neqab, July 14-15 Jerusalem.

The July “Welcome to Palestine” initiative will take participants (Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local activists.

The full program of activities is available for credentialed media outlets. Volunteers and participants are needed and welcome. Some news stories that already appeared on this are linked below.

Contact: info [at]


English articles and stories on the event


Other related websites/links

§Challenging Israeli apartheid — by plane
by Mazin Qumsiyeh Thursday Jul 7th, 2011 3:16 PM
PHOTO: The Palestinian people are sustained by their long history of steadfastness. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

Challenging Israeli apartheid — by plane

Mazin Qumsiyeh
The Electronic Intifada
5 July 2011

This week, hundreds of activists plan on challenging Israel’s apartheid apartheid by flying in to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. Heraclitis once stated that “There is nothing permanent except change,” and indeed human history is a chronicle of change — and the Welcome to Palestine project follows that tradition.

No change happens without challenging the status quo. Few people reflect even on modern history to understand how we achieved things like civil rights in the US, enlightenment in Europe, ending slavery, giving women the right to vote and establishing democracies around the world. All these changes from an unjust situation (the status quo) required the agency of mass movement.

On our horizon today is of course the mass movement of Arab people yearning for freedom from decades of dictatorships — many of those structures created and supported by the West.

Rebellion against injustice of course is also a hallmark of the struggle against apartheid in Palestine, a struggle that can be traced back to the first Zionist colony built 131 years ago and that took a giant leap forward by the 1948 founding of the racist state of Israel as a culmination and embodiment of this colonial venture, and the subsequent expansion of this state in 1967 to occupy the rest of Palestine.

Now 7 of the 11 million Palestinians in the world are refugees or displaced people. Palestinian refugees constitute one-third of all refugees worldwide, according to UN statistics. Yet, we are optimistic and we believe change is on the way.

Change is on the way

We are sustained in this positive attitude from our own history of multiple and largely successful uprisings (starting in 1881 and passing through 1920, 1929, 1936, 1972, 1987 and 2000). We are sustained by the sumud or steadfastness of our people who after decades of attempted ethnic cleansing still constitute half the population of Palestine (5.5 million Palestinians, 5.5 million Israeli Jews).

Sure, we are depressed about how the Oslo accords maimed the popular resistance. It was predictable, and as Israeli negotiator Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post in 1995, the intention was the “creation of a new psychological reality in the West Bank. After initial celebrations, Palestinians will find themselves confined to a certain degree of cantonization.”

Yet, we look with pride at the new forms of resistance constantly innovated. The latest manifestation of this spirit of resistance are attempts, some successful, to return to our lands and homes — as happened on 15 May this year, during the Nakba Day march of return — and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that aims to break the siege on Gaza. We are heartened by the growth of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

We have individual and collective responsibility to change things by moral and determined ways. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

The other options have been proven catastrophically negative: relying on politicians (elected or self-appointed) or on the vagaries of shifting military capabilities — a dangerous development in the era of advanced science that makes development of weapons of mass destruction relatively easy even for small state and non-state actors. Let no one have any illusion: we are coming to a major confrontation. It can either be a civil confrontation in which civil society wins the struggle because it became engaged in these tactics of strong and determined popular resistance, or it can happen via armed insurgency that uses modern technology to challenge conventional military forces.

In challenging local dictatorship, we saw the power of civil resistance in Egypt and Tunisia. Challenging colonialism successfully happened with a mix of the popular and armed struggle in Algeria (liberated in the 1960s) and South Africa (more recently). But the mix of civil confrontation and armed insurgency in South Africa was improved thanks to international civil participation. Each situation is unique, and our local history here and the upcoming confrontation will also be unique to Palestine and different than in other places.

We won’t accept the attempts to keep us apart

Our next step toward freedom is a series of events are the plans taking place between 9-16 when hundreds of men, women and children are planning to fly into Tel Aviv to visit us in Palestine. The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment.

With the delay in the sailing of the Freedom Flotilla, these two initiatives may coincide temporally. As Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.

Guests will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages. Local activist groups in Europe and in the United States have organized delegations and hundreds have booked their flights. Once here, much can be done. But whether you volunteer or participate in any of these initiatives or any others, the key word is participation. There are ongoing revolutions everywhere against tyranny. Human spirits cannot be enslaved forever. We must all join in the struggle for freedom because silence is indeed complicity.

Mazin Qumsiyeh is international coordinator for the Palestine Justice Network (, a professor at Bethlehem University and the author of Popular Resistance in Palestine

For more information about the Welcome to Palestine initiative, visit

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Mike Novack
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 4:21 AM
You perhaps need to be clearer about your demand because this comes across like a demand that Israel not exist.

Perhaps like you I also would like to see full and complete independence for the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank with their own state and in full control of (their side of) their borders. But like any other state on this planet that conveys no right to traverse a neighboring state. Not unless it can be claimed that this neighbor surrounds them ON ALL SIDES. If not, and rights of traversal or entry through would be a matter of negotiations and paying whatever "price" those negotiations resulted in.

Yes I understand, there might not be a convenient/economical way except through Israel but that reality does not convey a right. That is part of the plight of the Palestinians and the proce they are liekly to have to pay for independence.
by Joseph Dana, @ibnezra
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 11:24 AM
ibnezra Joseph Dana

According to Israeli activists, Isr police are going to move 'air flotilla' passengers to the seldom used terminal one at Ben Gurion Airport

21 hours ago

by mkay
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 11:42 AM
"The international community
must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and
support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without
harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us
openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to
force us to speak less than with full honesty. "

"end apartheid and ethnic cleansing"

Where on earth does it say "end the the state of Israel," unless you are implying that Israel cannot exist except as an apartheid state that ethnically cleanses Palestinians?

Your points are fine and well about national borders but you seem to be oblivious to what's happening there now. Palestine is an occupied territory, not a sovereign state (yet). Currently, if international activists are honest at the airport about their intentions to travel to the West Bank when questioned down by Israelis, then they are denied entry into Israel or Palestine. Non-violent people sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians have to lie at the airport, or anywhere they are stopped by the ever-present Israeli police state. This protest is to call attention to that and challenge it. Israel has no right to sort out visitors to Palestine based simply on political beliefs. It should be up to Palestinians to decide who they want to visit their land.
by Open Up Palestine
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 9:44 PM
Should be at the consulate; Not on the weekend; if the weekend Union Square
Not noon that is Libya