In Brussels, the ICAHD team also met with key people and organizations. They held a briefing for the European External Action Service, Catherine Ashton’s team, met with several member state delegations, with Arafat Shoukri, Chair of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza and others. In London, Jeff spoke at the National Lobby of Parliament for Palestine organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and met with a number of parliament members and activists. Guided by Linda, Jeff also met with potential funders and campaign partners in the everlasting challenge of making ICAHD a more effective organization. In particular ICAHD seeks funds for its Beit Arabiya program. Finally, Jeff left for Warsaw. In ICAHD’s contacts with the EU, it was suggested that much more advocacy and lobbying on the Palestine issue had to be done in Eastern Europe, which is far more pro-American and thus pro-Israel than Western Europe (the Czech Republic was the only member of the EU to vote against the General Assembly resolution to recognize a Palestinian state). Jeff has been to Poland and the Czech Republic several times, his trip organized by Polish-Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. While in Poland Jeff spoke in the Parliament for the second time, this time to the Commission of Justice and Human Rights, organized by the Polish-Palestinian Parliamentarian Group. Jeff also met with Polish activists and spoke in a high school in the Polish city of Tarnow, together with Omar Faris, one of the leaders of the Palestinian community of Poland. (Palestinians initially came to Poland as students during the Communist era, and about 500 have stayed.) Originally the meeting was to take place last June, but event was cancelled due to the intervention of the Israeli embassy in Poland, who pressured the school’s administration to cancel it. The Embassy’s interference met with harsh criticism from the Polish media, as well as from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who issued a statement about the impropriety of Israel intervening in internal Polish affairs. When they heard that Jeff was coming to the country the students again organized and, supported by a courageous Principal, the presentation was held. The meeting was attended by over 130 students and teachers. Oliwia and Adam, two students from the Tarnów school, reported: ‘We made an effort to organize the meeting for the second time to succinctly present to our fellow students and teachers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In our opinion, the key to achieving understanding and empathy among people is to explain to them what the problem is. That’s why we decided to invite Jeff Halper and Omar Faris to present to us.’The ICHAD website describes the organization as follows:
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is a human rights and peace organization established in 1997 to end Israel’s Occupation over the Palestinians. ICAHD takes as its main focus, as its vehicle for resistance, Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and within Israel proper. ICAHD was awarded UN Economic and Social Council Special Consultative Status in 2010.Dr. Arafat Shoukri is the head of both the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) in Brussels and the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) in the U.K. The PRC has strong ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood and two PRC directors are also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), generally regarded as part of the UK. Muslim Brotherhood. The PRC is also listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) dominated by UK. Muslim Brotherhood groups. PRC activities are frequently promoted by the MAB, MCB, and other U.K Brotherhood organizations. PRC director Ghassan Four is also a Trustee of INTERPAL, a key member of the Union of Good and part of the Muslim Brotherhood Hamas fund-raising network . PRC director Zaher Birawi is a Trustee of Education Aid for Palestine (EAP), also a part of the Union of Good. Mr. Birawi is also head of programming for Al-Hiwar TV which frequently features MB/Hamas individuals and organizations and was founded by Azzam Al-Tamimi, a U.K Muslim Brotherhood leader and close to Hamas. An Israeli web site, known to be close to Israeli military intelligence, has reported that Mr. Birawi, along with another PRC Trustee are “past Hamas operatives who found refuge in Britain in the early nineties.” Dr. Shoukri is also the chairman of the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) which was the main organizer of the unsuccessful Second Gaza Flotilla and which operates from the same address and has the same telephone as the PRC. The CEPR appears to operate largely as a lobbying group at the EU and has accompanied EU lawmakers on trips to Gaza.