History of ICAHD
ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action organization dedicated to ending the Israeli Occupation and establishing a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, in whatever form that might take. The focus of our work, and the vehicle through which we expose and resist the working of the Occupation, is Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian houses – about 27,000 in the Occupied Territories since 1967.
ICAHD works on three levels:
We resist the demolition of Palestinian homes on the ground, as well as other injustices of the Occupation, and rebuild homes that have been demolished;
We attempt to influence public opinion within Israel, if not government policy; and
We engage in international advocacy amongst governments, the UN and its various agencies, international courts and a wide range of civil society groups and organizations.
ICAHD’s analysis and advocacy is accompanied by diverse informational materials, from books, booklets and reports to such visuals as maps, films, power point presentations, exhibits and our website, and on to critical tours of the Occupied Territories and briefings for diplomats, journalists, researchers and activists.
From the outset, ICAHD has considered itself a political actor rather than merely a protest group. Only by keeping a clear focus on our overall goals – a complete end to the Occupation and a just peace between ourselves and the Palestinians – and by asserting that as members of the international civil society we can and must play a key role in influencing government decisions, will ICAHD contribute to the achievement of a just peace. Thus every action, program or campaign we engage in must address the question: Is it contributing to an end of the Occupation? If not, if it is merely an act of documentation, “development,” humanitarian aid or protest, then it cannot be at the center of our work.
1997 ICAHD founded by eight Israeli peace activists: Amos Gvirtz, Harriet Lewis, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Meir Margalit, Yael Cohen and Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, representing Bat Shalom, Yesh Gvul, Rabbis for Human Rights, Palestinians and Israelis for Non-Violence and Meretz. They were soon joined by Ya’akov Manor, Susi Mordechai, Michal Weiner, Yoav Hess and Stav Adivi. This was ICAHD’s core during its formative years. ICAHD’s main Palestinian partners then were the Palestinian Land Defense Committee, LAW, the Palestinian People’s Party, and PARC, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee.
1998 ICAHD inaugurates its first major action with its Palestinian and Israeli partners: a three-week campaign of protest meetings throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem against Israel’s policies of house demolitions. The campaign began with a joint Palestinian-Israeli Gathering of Peace opposite the Civil Administration Headquarters at Bet El (July 9)
1998 Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh’s home demolished for the first of (so far) five times by the “Civil” Administration, Israel’s military government in the Occupied Territories (July 9). This represented the first time ICAHD actively resisted demolitions. The Shawamreh home, later called Beit Arabiya, became ICAHD’s “flagship” and Salim its Coordinator of activities in the Occupied Territories.
1999 Dedication of the first rebuilt Shawamreh home at the conclusion of ICAHD’s first annual rebuilding work camp (August 2), in which dozens of international activists are joined by Palestinian and Israelis in rebuilding homes. Since then ICAHD has rebuilt in public acts of political resistance almost 200 homes, the vast majority remain standing.
1999 Early the very next morning (August 3), Salim and Arabiya’s home was demolished for the second time.
1999 ICAHD activist Jeff Halper develops his “Matrix of Control” analysis, which helps in grasping the “big picture” of Occupation by putting the myriad details in a holistic framework.
2000 ICAHD organizes the first conference in Israel on the issue of the growing threat of apartheid. The conference, Israel Over Palestine: Are We Headed for Apartheid?” (which today sounds naïve) was held at Neveh Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam.
2000 Salim Shawamreh and Jeff Halper undertake a coast-to-coast US speaking tour sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). It marked the inauguration of ICAHD’s campaign of international advocacy that has seen its staff travel to every part of the world, sponsored by civil society organizations, universities, the UN or governments.
2001 Dedication of the second rebuilt home of the Shawamreh family (April 3). The next day the home as demolished for the third time.
2002 First of five editions of ICAHD’s Obstacles to Peace published
2003 ICAHD receives its first significant funding from the EU. Jeff Halper is hired as the ICAHD Coordinator, Hibat Mahroum, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, as the ICAHD office manager and Na’ama Nagar, a young Israeli activist, our Outreach Coordinator to the Israeli Public.
2003 Shawamreh home demolished and rebuilt for the fourth time (August). After the rebuilding the home is rededicated as Beit Arabiya (the House of Arabiya) and serves as ICAHD’s center for meetings, tours and strategizing.
2004 ICAHD awarded the Spanish International Prize for Human Rights.
The Spanish International Prize for Human Rights for 2004 is awarded to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) for your work as a peace organization which must contend with the hostility of Israeli society over its activities on behalf of human rights for the Palestinian people, for your willingness to endanger your lives in order to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes, and for your struggle against the separation wall. Your activities have earned the appreciation and gratitude of the Palestinian population who sees you as a part of the Israeli society with whom it is possible to reach peace and co-existence.
– Association for Human Rights in Spain, January 30, 2004
2005 ICAHD opens Daila, a resource center and meeting place for the progressive Israeli community.
2006 ICAHD Director Jeff Halper nominated by the AFSC for the Nobel Peace Prize, together with the Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni.
2007 ICAHD receives the Olive Branch Award from the Jewish Voice for Peace in the US.
2008 ICAHD Director Jeff Halper sails into Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement to break the siege. Stays three days and is arrested upon his return.
2009 Jeff Halper receives the Kant Award for World Citizenship in Freiburg, Germany.
2011 ICAHD presents position papers to the Human Rights Council and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva.
2012 Shawamreh home demolished for the fifth time (January 23).
2013 Beit Arabiya rebuilt for the 6th time