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Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

Introduction

In 2015, the Israeli entity “Israeli Committee against House Demolitions” was closed due to a court order following the NGO’s failure to comply with multiple regulations.

The NGO continues to operate with “chapters” in the UK, Finland, USA, and Germany, but without a formal Israeli association. Since July 2015, the organization’s website has been published by the British branch.

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitehttp://www.icahd.org/
Founded1997, located in Jerusalem.
In their own wordsAims “to end Israel’s Occupation over the Palestinians” and “oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories.”

Funding

  • The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) “donors” (amounts and dates unavailable) included: European UnionSpainTrocaireNGO Development Center, World Vision, Mennonite Central Committee, and UNDP.
    • Reflecting a lack of transparency, ICAHD has since removed all information relating to its donors.
  • ICAHD-USA reported 2015 revenue of $67,815 (latest available; accessed April 1, 2018). The branch raises money for the NGO and conducts politicized advocacy tours.
  • Between 2010-2012, ICAHD received €169,661 from the European Union, via EIDHR, for a program “To ensure that the basic rights of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Areas B and C of the OPT are met; To contribute to the cessation of punitive, military and administrative house demolitions in East Jerusalem and Areas B and C of the OPT.”

Activities

  • ICAHD’s rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.”
  • Regularly accuses Israel of maintaining a “Matrix of Control”, or “a maze of laws, military orders, planning procedures, limitations on movement, kafkaesque bureaucracy, settlements and infrastructure – augmented by prolonged and ceaseless low-intensity warfare – that serves to perpetuate the Occupation.”
  • Explicitly advocates for the end of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, stating that “the only option for resolving the conflict [is] a one-state solution.” According to the ICAHD-Finland website, “In the year 2012, ICAHD became the first Israeli organisation that took a stand in favour of a one-state solution.”
  • ICAHD offers “Alternative Tours of Palestine/Israel” allowing participants a “grounded approach to the politics of Occupation, and an insight into the difficulties of Palestinian life.” Topics covered on the tours include “systematic arrests,” “continued expropriation of land,” “the threat of forced displacement,” and “house demolitions.”
  • In May 2018, Amnesty International hosted ICAHD-UK’s annual conference titled “From constructing homes to constructing one-state,” supporting a “one-state solution,” meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The conference stated that “Palestinians liv[e] under a brutal military occupation that traumatized their society” and called to “start actively campaigning for one-state.”
  • On May 28, 2016, Amnesty International hosted ICAHD-UK’s Spring Conference. One of the main goals of the conference was to “CONNECT current BDS campaigns in the UK with those in I/P [Israel/Palestine.]”
  • ICAHD was a  “Partner” of the 2013 “Bethlehem Unwrapped” Christmas Festival in London, which exploits Christmas themes to demonize Israel. The festival features a life-size replica of Israel’s security barrier and aims to go “behind the romanticised Christmas card images of the ancient city to show what life is like for people in Bethlehem today.”

BDS

  • Active in promoting the BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) campaign against Israel.
  • According to ICAHD’s website, “The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) was the first Israeli organisation to endorse a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.”
  • ICAHD supports BDS as an “instrument of Palestinian liberation” and “ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands.”
  • On May 28, 2016, Jeff Halper spoke at the ICAHD UK conference about the theme “’BDS for BDS’ (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for a Bi-National, Democratic State),” and how “apartheid cannot be accepted by any of us, not even by the most fervent supporter of Israel.”
  • In May 2016, ICAHD Germany and ICAHD Finland signed a call titled “Enough with the criminalisation of the BDS movement for justice in Palestine! Let’s support right to boycott!” calling on the European Commission to “introduce the human rights guidelines guaranteeing freedom of speech and right to boycott.”
  • In April 2016, ICAHD signed a letter to Congressmen and constitutional magistrates of Colombia calling to “stop the ratification of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Israel,” as “Israel has systematically and gravely violated UN resolutions and international humanitarian laws relevant to human rights, undermining the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination…The ratification of the Israel-Colombia FTA would give legitimacy to this illegal situation.”
  • In September 2015, ICAHD Finland signed on a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urging the UN to terminate its contracts with international security company G4S, as the company is “complicit with Israel’s human rights violations.”
  • In an interview with the Halifax Media Co-op (“Next Level #BDS,” February 2, 2015), Halper discusses security training and cooperation between Israel and Canada as a target for BDS, claiming that “The erosion of civil liberties in Canada, freedom of speech, is directly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict” and “There’s a direct connection between the freedoms of Palestinians and the freedom of Canadians. I think that should be a thread in the BDS movement.”
  • In 2014, ICAHD applauded the decision of the “Presbyterian Church USA to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola, three US companies that profit from Israel’s military occupation.”
  • In 2014, Jeff Halper signed a petition titled “Jews Say: End the War on Gaza — No Aid to Apartheid Israel! BDS!” “embrac[ing] the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions,” as well as legitimizing Palestinian resistance stating, “Like any colonial regime, Israel uses resistance to such policies as an excuse to terrorize and collectively punish the indigenous population for its very existence. But scattered rockets, fired from Gaza into land stolen from Palestinians in the first place, are merely a response to this systemic injustice.”
  • ICAHD joined a group of Israeli NGOs in writing a letter (2009) to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, as a part of Coalition of Women for Peace’s “Who Profits?” campaign, accusing a number of Israeli and international corporations of “provid[ing] specifically designed equipment for the surveillance and repression of Palestinian population through restrictions of movement and collective punishments.”
  • In 2005, ICAHD released a press release titled “Sanctions Against The Israeli Occupation: It’s Time,” calling on the “international community – civil society as well as governments – to do all that is possible to bring a swift end to Israel’s terrible Occupation…The time has come; sanctions seem the next logical step in a global campaign to end the Occupation.”

Other anti-Israel Activities

  • In May 2015, ICAHD represented “Israel activists supporting the suspension of Israel” from FIFA, in a meeting with then FIFA President Sepp Blatter, delivering a “clear message: suspend the IFA from FIFA until the occupation ends and Palestinian football can develop unhindered.”
  • In collaboration with ICAHD, ActiveStills, a politically motivated photography collective, created the “We Never Finished 1948exhibition. The description reads, in part, “For us, the ongoing Occupation is not merely an event arising out of the 1967 war, but a continuation of 1948, conceptually and militarily.”
  • ICAHD was part of the “Remove the Siege – Stop the War” coalition that stood “in defiance of the siege and the destruction and military bombardment…being exercised in Gaza with careless disregard…[and] protest the ongoing massacre” in partnership with highly politicized NGOs, including: New Profile, Alternative Information Center, Combatants for Peace, Coalition of Women for Peace, and others.
  • Planning a summer 2017 “Rebuilding Camp,” inviting international students to “strengthen [their] involvement in the global movement to end home demolitions” and “rebuild a Palestinian home that was demolished by Israeli authorities.”
  • On November 20, 2014, Alternatives Canada published an article by Jeff Halper alleging that “Israelis and Palestinians liv[e] under separate legal systems, the latter do not have any legal protection… By disconnecting laws and justice, and by allowing the government to violate with impunity international law, the Israeli legal system has become an instrument of oppression.”
  • ICAHD employee and Jerusalem Council member Meir Margalit published a book (published 2010), funded by the Spanish government, titled, Seizing Control of Space in East Jerusalem. Margalit accuses Israel of “ethnocratic policy of contempt for Arabs,” attempting to “wipe the Arab presence off the face of the earth,” and “colonialism.”

Staff

ICAHD Finland

  • According to its website, “ICAHD Finland, founded in 2009, is the Finnish branch of ICAHD” and claims to be an autonomous organization committed to “ending Israeli occupation and apartheid in a manner that is consistent with international law.”
  • ICAHD-Finland has received funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture for a co-sponsored a program on Gaza, as well as from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a communications project, but no further information is available.
  • The group immorally equates antisemitism and Zionism, accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing,” and supports BDS.
  • The founder and vice-chairman of ICAHD-Finland, Bruno Jantti, is a journalist with Al-Jazeera and TelesurTV and previously worked as a country coordinator on Israel for Amnesty International.
    • In 2015, Jantti blamed Israel for antisemitism, and tacitly compared Israel to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist organizations, stating “When those who are responsible for acts of brutality and crimes against humanity (think of tactics employed by the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda) or occupation-powered apartheid (the self-appointed Jewish state) claim they represent an entire religion or ethnic grouping, there will be those who believe them.”
    • He also published an article (August 29, 2014) in Al-Jazeera urging the EU to impose sanctions on Israel.
  • ICAHD-Finland’s chairman Syksy Räsänen maintains a blog that often includes propaganda and inflammatory rhetoric attacking the democratically elected Israeli government and its policies.
  • In March 2018, to make Israeli Apartheid Week and commemorate “70 years since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” ICAHD-Finland hosted Israeli journalist David Sheen, who has “covered Israeli racism for many years.”
    • In March 2018, Sheen tweeted a cartoon repeating the antisemitic blood libel that Jews use blood to bake Passover matzah.
  • On February 7, 2017, ICAHD-Finland was a signatory on a call to “end the European complicity – marking 100 years of injustice against the Palestinian people.” The call “solemnly reaffirm[ed] that in 2017, after 100 years of dispossession, denial and ethnic cleansing, the rights of the Palestinian people must, at last, be respected.”
  • In March 2015, ICAHD-Finland actively participated in Israel Apartheid Week, focusing on “pinkwashing” – a term used by activists in order to claim that Israel’s treatment of the LGBT community is merely a propaganda tactic to divert attention from Israel’s relationship with Palestinians.
  • In December 2014, ICAHD-Finland ran a project for “homes demolished by the Israeli authorities as a form of political protest against Israel’s Occupation.” ICAHD-Finland demonizes Israel with accusations of “collective punishment against innocent Palestinians who live under occupation” and of “flagrant violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.” (emphasis in original)
  • During the summer 2014 Gaza conflict, ICAHD Finland participated in seven anti-Israel demonstrations in Helsinki, which focused on demanding an end to arms trade between the countries.
  • Published a December 2013 report, “Straight route to the occupation,” promoting a boycott of the company Veolia and contributing to a proposed motion at the Helsinki city council not to renew Veolia contracts.
  • Promoted a tour by The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), in conjunction with Finn Church Aid (funded by the Finnish government), to major university campuses in Finland, alleging that Israel victimizes and discriminates against the Palestinian population and “vindictively persecutes” Palestinian children.

Partners

  • Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, Bimkom, B’Tselem, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, WCLAC, World Vision, and Yesh Din.
  • Member of the Habitat International Coalition.
    • On August 29, 2017, Joseph Schechla, HIC coordinator of the Housing and Land Rights Network, wrote an article on the “Anatomy of ISIL in the Middle East,” discussing how “the ISIL phenomenon ironically has its roots in deep anomalies and double standards of the interstate system itself. This is only symbolically reflected in the contemporary acronym of ISIL, which corresponds with the abbreviation for the so-called  ‘Islamic state’ (IS) joined to the binomial code for the State of Israel (IL). This coincidence of acronyms completes the analogy of the respective Jihadist and Zionist movements and their common attributes at the expense of indigenous Middle East peoples. Just as one follows the other in time, the participants in the former-named (IS) may be counting on the same seamless impunity long enjoyed by its latter-cited predecessor (IL).”

Archive of Articles about Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

Further Reading