Leadership and Empowerment
Profiles of IFPB Delegation Participants and their Organizing Work
For many Interfaith Peace-Builders' delegation participants their delegation is a transformative experience which acts as a catalyst for activism. For others, the delegation provides the grounding on which to hinge a deeper understanding or renewed commitment to the issue. Whatever their previous involvement, the vast majority of IFPB delegates remain active in the movement for and end to the Israeli occupation and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On this page we profile a few of the many activists who have utilized an IFPB delegation to its fullest potential. The following individuals demonstrate a rare commitment and innovative approach that makes their activism successful. They illustrate how IFPB's commitment to civic engagement and movement building contributes to a more robust and engaged movement in the United States.
Since his 2007 delegation, Mark has been most active with Friends of the Tent of Nations North America (FOTONNA), the organization he co-founded with IFPB delegates Bill Plitt, Bill Mims and John Van Wagoner (among others). After visiting the Tent of Nations and meeting Daoud Nasser on the IFPB delegations, Mark recognized the need for a solid bridge between them and the US. FOTONNA was founded to raise funds for projects in Palestine and to support Tent of Nations’ important work and nonviolent struggle.
Since the founding of FOTONNA in 2007, the group has organized four speaking tours bringing Daoud Nassar to Washington DC, Connecticut, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. FOTONNA has been successful in helping to fund a new generator, four new water cisterns, computers for a the Women’s Center, funding for children’s camps, and recruiting a large number of new volunteers from the US who work with the Tent of Nations’ various projects.
In addition to his work with FOTONNA, Mark also serves as the Executive Director of the Holy Land Education and Peacebuilding Project, sits on the Board of Directors of the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions – USA, and is a member of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Policy. He maintains his own website, travels often to present on Israel/Palestine, and has published several articles in news outlets and journals. Mark is currently completing a book on theology and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Gabriel began his political solidarity work with the Palestinian struggle for self determination and national liberation while he was a union and student activist during his college years and continued his engagement as a leader of the labor movement.
In 1999 he founded the Massachusetts chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (an AFL-CIO constituency group). He is currently the Chair of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice and works as Regional Organizer of Project Voice for the New England office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) where he is the AFSC Third World Coalition Regional Representative and an active member of UNITE HERE Local 66L. Gabriel is also the President of the Junta Directiva of Centro Presente, a Central American immigrant community organization, and serves on the Board of Directors of US Labor Education in the Americas Project.
Gabriel’s experience in Israel/Palestine supplemented his work for justice on the US/Mexico border and inspired him to develop a presentation and framework for analysis entitled “Two Walls, One Struggle”. The framework draws parallels between the wall on the US/Mexico border and that within the West Bank and seeks to bridge the struggles of Latino Immigrants and the Arab/Muslim communities in the US.
Since he first presented the “Two Walls, One Struggle” framework at the Third World Coalition’s 2008 annual meeting in New Orleans, he has also spoken at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s annual conference, co-led an allies workshop at the Popular Conference for Palestine in Chicago, and given numerous talks throughout the Boston area where he resides and beyond.
“Two Walls, One Struggle” has been well received by audiences and reactions to Gabriel's talks have sparked intense discussion of historical oppression, refugees, forced migration, and racism and their relation to the situation in Palestine. Activists around the US have implemented the framework in their analyses by presenting on the subject, developing educational curriculum around its themes, and using it as a tool for coalition building in their communities.
Since the delegation, Julia's advocacy and organizing work has focused on fostering solidarity and understanding between Palestinians and indigenous peoples in North America. Her efforts have produced the Hip Hop Indigenous People Project (HIP Project) with a mission to “nurture solidarity and mutual assistance between Indigenous and Palestinian Peoples through socially conscious Hip Hop and related artistic and pedagogical mediums that promote self-determination.” Julia hopes the HIP Project may evolve into an academic program.
Julia also maintains a blog through which she provides another outlet for voices devoted to self-determination issues shared between Indigenous Nations and Palestinians.
Julia’s activism has reached her students at Haskell Indian Nations University where she has organized educational events, including a screening of the documentary Slingshot Hip Hop, and a series of workshops specifically dedicated to building solidarity.
Julia also helped organize an indigenous youth delegation to Palestine in 2009 which furthered understanding between young indigenous organizers in the United States and those in Palestine. Her commitment to the Palestinian cause and Indigenous Nations continues to peacefully produce solidarity and has inspired her students to action.
Skip's delegation began an engagement with Israel/Palestine that has only grown in scope and intensity. He has returned to the region several times since his delegation and used his trips to organize and present photo exhibits, slideshows and workshops on various aspects of the conflict. Skip has presented at least 10 photo exhibits, more than 100 slideshows, and 6 workshops that have altogether reached about 2,000 people. His advocacy has taken him from Alaska to California, North Carolina to Florida, and also to numerous engagements around his home of Boston.
Skip continues to travel and speak about his experiences and returns to the Middle East often to learn, photograph, maintain personal contacts, and demonstrate solidarity.
In 2009, Skip worked as a photographer for the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information and the American Friends Service Committee. His photo documentation features the hydropolitics of Israel/Palestine, youth, non-violent resistance, holy sites, and Quakers, as well as regional projects focusing on Bethlehem and Gaza. Skip uses photography to illustrate themes of oppression, justice, peace, and resistance. His commitment to exposing the reality of the conflict has initiated new hope for change through dialogue and photography.
After the delegation Ed focused his activism on changing US foreign policy to better serve the long-term interest of Israel, the United States, and the world. Through his work with the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, Ed has been instrumental in spearheading constituent organizing on issues related to Israel/Palestine and has implemented creative projects to raise constituent voices in the legislative process.
Immediately upon his return from Israel/Palestine, Ed opened a series of conversations with government officials in Washington DC, including Illinois Representative Kirk (in whose Congressional district he resides), both Illinois Senators, Presidents Bush and Obama as well as Secretary of State Rice and Clinton. Most of Ed’s efforts, however, are geared towards providing administrative support to three projects initiated by the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy:
- The first project was a survey of all 19 Illinois Congressional Districts on foreign policy in the Middle East. The results were presented as part of a Chicago Faith Coalition conference that drew about 100 faith leaders from the Chicago area.
- The second project used the themes of this survey to create a petition that was piloted in Illinois’ 9th Congressional District. In May 2009 a team of constituents of Illinois Representative Schakowsky presented the petition with 1,060 signatures from her constituents.
- The third project has been to develop a new Chicago Faith Coalition website to help Chicago area voters advocate to change US foreign policy toward Israel/Palestine.
Since the delegation, Andrea has remained active by helping organize Citizens for Justice in the Middle East (CJME)in her community of Kansas City. As a part of CJME, Andrea has organized numerous speaking events for many organizations, including the Parents Circle - Bereaved Families Forum, Combatants for Peace, the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, and more. One particular conference, co-sponsored with Friends of Sabeel in 2006, brought 300 people from all over the country and its success has inspired Andrea to organize similar conferences.
Andrea has also built on her delegation experience by volunteering for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, organizing legislative actions in her congressional district and hosting a regional conference at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she presented about her IFPB delegation. The scope of Andrea’s activism has not been limited to the US. Along with her colleagues in CJME, she raised $10,000 for the Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem and $4,000 for Gaza relief.
Andrea has also shared her experience through media work, publishing letters and articles in the Kansas City Star, Village Voice, New York Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and other venues.
Since her decision to join a delegation with IFPB, Andrea has impacted her region by reaching out to people and communities that need a more balanced understanding of the conflict. This has created CJME’s next project to offer partial scholarships of $1,000 to send local pastors on IFPB delegations in hopes of fostering greater awareness in church communities in the Kansas City area.
These activists are only a few of the many IFPB delegates who remain committed to israeli-Palestinian peace long after they return from the region. Check back here for more profiles at a later date. For more information on IFPB delegate activities and our Education and Advocacy Program follow these links: