Based in Jerusalem and composed of members of many Israeli peace and human rights organizations, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) describes itself as “a non-violent, direct-action group originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories.” “As our activists gained direct knowledge of the brutalities of the Occupation,” ICAHD elaborates, “we expanded our resistance activities to other areas — land expropriation, settlement expansion, by-pass road construction, policies of ‘closure’ and ‘separation,’ the wholesale uprooting of fruit and olive trees and more.”
ICAHD’s activities extend into three interrelated spheres:
Resisting the demolition of Palestinian homes: “ICAHD members physically block [Israeli] bulldozers sent to demolish homes. We also mobilize hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians to rebuild them as acts of resistance.” (No mention is made of the fact that these demolitions target the homes and operating bases of Palestinian terrorists.)
Disseminating information and networking: ICAHD conducts “informational tours of the Occupied Territories from a critical peace perspective,” sends speakers on these tours to “educate” the participants, and is active in international conferences and gatherings that address Mideast issues.
In the United Kingdom and the United States, ICAHD has established regional affiliates whose activities include: conducting conference workshops and community and church presentations on “the Israel-Palestine conflict”; maintaining an active Speakers Bureau; gaining media exposure for their perspective on Arab-Israeli relations; publishing op-ed pieces and other articles; co-sponsoring educational and cultural events; networking with other likeminded organizations; raising money to support ICAHD’s house-building and educational work; and providing materials, speakers and other support for house party fundraising events.
ICAHD’s Coordinator is Jeff Halper, an Israeli professor of anthropology who frequently refers to Israel as an “apartheid” state that is guilty of “war crimes”; who advocates sanctions and boycotts against Israel; and who supports a “one-state solution.” (“A Jewish state has proven politically and, in the end, morally untenable,” he says.)
In tandem with Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, Badil, and Ittijah, ICAHD authored a Joint NGO submission in May 2006 to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD). ICAHD’s contribution to CERD was a set of “statistics” on the numbers of Palestinian homes demolished in the West Bank. No sources or evidence for these statistics are provided, making independent verification of ICAHD’s allegations impossible.
Sabeel, which leads international church divestment campaigns against Israel, is another of ICAHD’s main partners. In 2006, Jeff Halper appeared at Sabeel’s Kansas City Conference with Phyllis Bennis, co-founder of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Halper also spoke at a conference on divestment from Israel sponsored by the Canadian Friends of Sabeel, and at the 2006 Sabeel Washington DC Conference where he called for “the use of boycott, divestment and sanctions.” In February 2007, Halper joined the founder of Sabeel, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek at a “public hearing” sponsored by the Council for the National Interest, where Israel was accused of being an “apartheid” state.
In May 2006, ICAHD joined Friends of Sabeel UK, Interpal, Pax Christi, and War on Want in writing to the Church of England’s Commissioners to reiterate their support for disinvestment from all companies that do business with Israel.
Regarding the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, ICAHD stated: “We recognize Israel’s ever-repressive Occupation as the main source of conflict and instability in our region … Israel seeks to break the will of the Palestinian people and destroy any resistance to the imposition of an apartheid regime.”
In October 2006, ICAHD published an article titled “The Struggle for Palestine’s Soul,” which argued that Israel “has not for one moment renounced violence against Palestinian resistance to occupation.” The article added that if Hamas were to emerge victorious from its political and military battles with Fatah, “then the Palestinians will have the chance to re-energize the intifada, and launch a proper, consensual fight to end the occupation.
ICAHD regularly publishes articles on its website by British-born journalist Jonathan Cook, who has written for Al Jazeera’s online English edition and Electronic Intifada. In a December 1, 2006 article, Cook describes a suicide bombing as a choice between “death and resistance over powerlessness and victimhood.”
In past years, ICAHD received considerable financial support from the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund, but neither of those organizations fund ICAHD today. The Committee’s current funding derives largely from the European Union.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.