Frequently Asked Questions
When is the next IFPB delegation?
We send 3 – 4 delegations to Israel/Palestine every year. IFPB delegations are usually scheduled for late May, late July, and sometime in October or November.
Why should I join an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is influenced greatly by foreign policies crafted in the capitals of western countries – chiefly, the United States. The US gives Israel over $3 billion in direct military aid every year – more than any other country and provides significant political and diplomatic support for its Middle East ally. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories continues to stoke conflict around the region. As a result, people from North America have a responsibility to understand the conflict and to act to change the status quo. Interfaith Peace-Builders works hard to make each delegation a unique experience that meets the goals of participants.
Is it safe to go to Israel/Palestine?
Safety of the participants on an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation is something that we take seriously. From time to time, violence on the ground in Israel/Palestine captures the attention of global news media. Situations such as this frequently raise concerns about safety on the delegation, especially with family members of people who planning or thinking about going to Israel/Palestine. Interfaith Peace-Builders always carefully monitors the situation and is in regular conversation with our Israeli and Palestinian friends about ongoing developments.
I can’t afford the full cost of a delegation?
Does IFPB provide financial support for people like me? Part of the mission of Interfaith Peace-Builders is to send as many people as possible to Israel/Palestine. In keeping with this mission we have a small fund for scholarship matching grants. In granting scholarship money, IFPB prioritizes those who would not otherwise be able to join. We also make scholarship money available to people who diversify our delegations and broaden education and advocacy work in the US. We strive to organize delegations diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnic identity, religious belief, and racial background. Scholarships generally range between $250-$500 per person. To apply, we have a one-page supplement to our regular application. We also have a fundraising packet to help prospective delegates raise money to cover their delegation expenses.
Our scholarship program is wholly funded by individual donations. You can help enable young people, low income activists, people of color, and interfaith leaders to participate in our work.
Who do IFPB delegations meet with?
IFPB’s on-the-ground experience is designed to enrich participants’ understanding of the occupation. Participants on Interfaith Peace-Builders delegations return to North America energized and transformed. Each IFPB delegation itinerary is unique; however many themes are regular features of our program.
IFPB delegations privilege the voices of nonviolent activists in both Palestinian and Israeli communities. Women and women’s groups are also a regular feature of our delegation program. In many ways, women lead the peace movement in Israel/Palestine. Another group of meetings includes information and analyses offered by a broad spectrum of Israeli, Palestinian and International non-governmental organizations working in the region. Our delegations also feature alternative voices that provide diversity and nuance. Meetings are often held with Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced People; representatives of Palestinian communities in Israel; Israeli settlers living in the West Bank; Palestinian farmers; Jews of color in Israel; and other marginalized communities.
Our delegations also feature 2-3 nights staying in the homes, villages, refugee camps, and farms of local Palestinians. When possible, similar overnights are arranged with Israeli families. Providing delegation participants the opportunity to interact and learn directly from ‘everyday’ Palestinians and Israelis allows for a more holistic and powerful experience and promotes long-term relationships of friendship and support.
Where do IFPB delegations stay?
Our delegations spend most nights in East Jerusalem so that participants have access to both the Eastern (Palestinian) and Western (Israeli) parts of the city. We work with our local partners to secure rooms in comfortable and affordable hotels.
Each delegation also features 2-3 nights staying in the homes, villages, refugee camps, and farms of local Palestinians. When possible, similar overnights are arranged with Israeli families. Providing delegation participants the opportunity to interact and learn directly from ‘everyday’ Palestinians and Israelis allows for a more holistic and powerful experience and promotes long-term relationships of friendship and support.
How do IFPB delegations travel in the region?
Since Interfaith Peace-Builders began, our delegations have been led by a local Palestinian tour guide registered with both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government. An expert on the religion, geography, history, and politics of Israel/Palestine our guide adds much to the experience for delegation participants. Delegations travel by bus and use routes chosen by our guide for convenience and safety.
Additionally, our delegations always further support the local economy by staying in local hotels and introducing participants to souvenirs produced by womens’ collectives, refugee associations, etc. In 2008 the Palestinian Initiative for Responsible Tourism introduced a Code of Conduct for Tourism in the Holy Land. IFPB is proud to say that our delegations always have, and will continue to, adhere to the guidelines of this code.
When did IFPB begin organizing delegations?
Interfaith Peace-Builders was founded as a program of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and organized our first delegation to Israel/Palestine in 2001. FOR began sending delegations to the Middle East in 1975. Growing out of FOR’s history and mission, Interfaith Peace-Builders committed itself to sending delegations to meet with both Israelis and Palestinians. This remains the core of our work. We seek to put a human face on the conflict by meeting with both ordinary citizens and extraordinary activists. Since 2001, we have organized 30 delegations and brought more than 450 people to see the reality of Israel/Palestine.
What resources does IFPB provide after a delegation?
Following a delegation, IFPB staff work with delegates to provide further training and long-term support on a range of advocacy and educational activities, including media advocacy, congressional engagement, public speaking, grassroots organizing, and other forms of civic engagement. Delegation participants receive a follow-up packet with resources and detailed tutorials on organizing skills, including media advocacy, congressional engagement, and presenting their experience publicly. Click here to see some of these tutorials.
IFPB’s commitment to delegation participants is long-term and sustained. Our staff provides continued support, assistance and consultancy as long as needed. All of our efforts have the ultimate goal of building a strong, comprehensive and diverse US-based movement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. To achieve this goal, we work to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and capacity of individuals and small groups through on-the-ground experience, ongoing education, activist skills training and support for grassroots organizing. A range of different strategies operating simultaneously is the key to successful movement building and IFPB materials and trainings are geared to promoting and supporting peace-building efforts on a variety of levels. Through Grassroots Advocacy Trainings, delegation follow-up work, and other programming, IFPB empowers our partners and constituents with the skills and experience needed to build a powerful and sustainable movement.
Do IFPB Delegation participants stay active on the issue after their return?
The vast majority of IFPB delegates remain active in the movement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Whether participants have joined a delegation with little knowledge, or see the experience as an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of an issue that is already central to their organizing work, IFPB’s delegates overwhelmingly find the experience to be transformative. A number of delegates return to the region following their delegation in order to work for some of the very NGO’s they met during the trip. Others take leadership roles in local, regional and national organizations in the United States.
Every delegate benefits from IFPB’s activist skills trainings, materials, and support for civic engagement and grassroots activism. Many have published articles in local newspapers and/or interviewed for segments on local radio and television shows.
What Are IFPB’s Grassroots Advocacy Trainings?
Our Grassroots Advocacy Trainings are annual events bringing together activists, experts and individuals from communities around the United States and North America for hands-on workshops and activist skills trainings. Interfaith Peace-Builders held our first Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day in February 2009 as part of our ongoing efforts to promote civic engagement and build a stronger US-based movement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. A lobby day following the training adds an immediate action component and an opportunity for participants to develop congressional engagement skills and experience by addressing their concerns to their elected officials.
The first Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day brought together nearly 200 people from 26 states and the District of Columbia. Participants held more than 70 meetings with their congressional representatives’ offices pushing for humanitarian aid to Gaza, an opening of the borders to commercial goods and an end to US military aid to Israel. Our second Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day is currently scheduled for March 2010.
Does IFPB work with other organizations?
As part of our commitment to movement building and coalition organizing, Interfaith Peace-Builders works in solidarity with a wide range of other organizations through national coalitions and partnerships. IFPB’s dedication to coalition work means that the wider movement is always our primary priority. Building the movement horizontally as well as vertically is the only way to accomplish comprehensive change and achieve peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.
We enter into partnerships and coalitions as a matter of strategy. IFPB’s delegation partnership model is an innovative strategy for widening the impact and results of our work. By joining with other national organizations in co-sponsored delegations, we multiply our joint capacity and impact. As an active member and partner of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, IFPB also engages with over 200 local, regional and national groups and organizations who are also members of the Campaign. Our dedication to coalition organizing widens the effects of IFPB’s work and creates opportunities for systemic change and a more just US policy in Israel/Palestine.
Does IFPB Lobby the US or other governments?
Interfaith Peace-Builders does not engage in direct lobbying. Our commitment to movement building means that we work to empower local people to become agents for change in their own community. Through delegation follow-up work, Grassroots Advocacy Trainings and other related programming, our Education and Advocacy Program promotes the civic engagement of our delegation participants and the growth of a comprehensive and diverse US-based movement for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
We empower individuals and groups with the experience, tools and opportunities needed to engage in a wide range of education and advocacy activities, and to become agents of change in their own communities. All of Interfaith Peace-Builders’ efforts have the ultimate goal of building a strong, comprehensive and diverse US-based movement for Israeli-Palestinian peace. A range of different strategies operating simultaneously is the key to successful movement building and IFPB materials and trainings are geared to promoting and supporting peace-building efforts on a variety of levels.
In recent years, however, we have placed increasing emphasis on the need for political action. Our Grassroots Advocacy Training program reflects this priority. By building in a lobby day, the Grassroots Advocacy Training program highlights congressional engagement and emphasizes a sustained grassroots approach to political change.
How can IFPB talk about nonviolence when you work with such a violent conflict?
From the immediate jarring images of suicide bombings and attacks by helicopter gunships, to the everyday violence of checkpoints and land expropriation, many relationships between Israelis and Palestinians are characterized by violence. Despite this reality, countless Palestinians and Israelis are using nonviolent means to challenge the status quo. To learn that Israelis and Palestinians are resisting the occupation nonviolently goes against many of our preconceptions. Moreover, the forms that nonviolent action takes may not be readily recognizable because of cultural and societal differences.
We encourage people participating in our delegations to look beyond their presuppositions about the conventional uses of nonviolence and see both new realities and new possibilities. When violence is prevalent, people committed to nonviolence cannot stand aside until the situation changes; nor can they use mere words to convince armed groups to set aside weapons. They have to act nonviolently in the midst of violence, running the risk that their actions will be misinterpreted, dismissed as irrelevant, or even regarded as collaboration with the enemy. Both Palestinians and Israelis, as individuals and in organizations, regularly take such risks. For practical, cultural, and religious reasons, both Palestinians and Israelis tend to emphasize deed over word and action over theory. As participants on IFPB delegations discover, by observing and listening with an open mind, nonviolent action by Israelis and Palestinians is widespread, creative, and often effective.
What do you mean by “interfaith”?
We define “interfaith” as broadly as possible. We do actively recruit Muslims, Jews, and Christians — and many travel with us. But we also welcome participants from other faith traditions, no specific faith tradition, and those who identify as humanist or atheist. Interfaith Peace-Builders believes a diversity of religious perspectives enriches our delegations. We strive to understand and interpret how Muslims, Jews, Christians whom we meet identify faith (or decline to do so) in the context of conflict.
Additionally, our ‘interfaith’ name signifies for us a broader diversity — ethnic, age, experience, background, sexual orientation, knowledge on the conflict, etc — because it is important to us that delegation participants interact with, and learn from, those they travel with — as well as those Israelis and Palestinians we meet.
Most interfaith work is based on dialogue to create mutual understanding and acceptance by suspending judgment and seeking common ground. However, when interfaith dialogue confronts conflicts involving religious differences, they frequently fall silent, because dealing with conflict jeopardizes mutual understanding and acceptance. IFPB has found that interfaith actions can move beyond dialogue. When people of diverse backgrounds and/or different faith traditions join in action against injustice, they form a mutual commitment that can create a deeper bond to bridge differences and create deeper understanding.
Does IFPB endorse a “two-state solution” or a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Interfaith Peace-Builders does not sponsor, side with, or promote the interests of any party, individual, or specific organization in Israel, Palestine, the US, or elsewhere. We do not endorse specific solutions for the conflict (such as “one-state” or “two-state”). Our work is intended to introduce delegation participants to a variety of opinions, debates, and analyses on Israel, Palestine, and the role of international – and US – civil society in the conflict.
However, there are core values that inform our work and are rooted in our long-standing ties with communities of peace-builders, resisters to oppression, and nonviolent activists. We are against military occupation in all forms and places. We believe in the transformative power of nonviolent social change. We work to challenge oppression, racism, and war in all their forms. We believe that many of the misconceptions prevalent in US mainstream discourse on Israel/Palestine can be most effectively confronted by on-the-ground experience of the situation.
We meet with numerous organizations in Israel/Palestine that do, of course, have specific analyses of the conflict and that do take political, ethical, or legal positions on a host of issues. We are intentional in introducing the delegates to as many different opinions as possible in a two-week experience. Individual delegates are invited to draw their own conclusions from the experience, and as such, their opinions after the delegation are theirs alone.
Are IFPB delegations balanced?
Interfaith Peace-Builders seeks equity between Israeli and Palestinian voices, distinguishing the IFPB experience from other delegation programs. IFPB spends more time in Israeli communities than other peace-focused delegation programs and more time in Palestinian communities than any Israel-focused programs. In doing so, we include the important voices of Israelis who demand peace and justice for Palestinians. We feel that a true understanding of the conflict necessitates meeting and hearing from both Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians in addition to (of course) spending much time in the West Bank. We also choose to spend most nights in Jerusalem, so that participants have access to both the Western and Eastern parts of the city.
Why should people from North American countries travel to Israel/Palestine?
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not “over there.” It is a conflict that is influenced greatly by foreign policies crafted in the capitals of western countries – chiefly, the United States. The US gives Israel over $3 billion in direct military aid every year – more than any other country and provides significant political and diplomatic support for its Middle East ally. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories continues to stoke conflict around the region. As a result, people from North America have a responsibility to understand the conflict and to act to change the status quo. Interfaith Peace-Builders delegations provide the on-the-ground understanding needed and our Education and Advocacy Program helps participants work for a comprehensive change to their country’s foreign policy upon their return.
What is IFPB’s annual budget?
Our annual operating budget is approximately $100,000. IFPB is mainly supported financially by small individual donations. We receive over half our operating income from individual donors and past delegation participants. Almost half of past delegation participants are financial donors to IFPB. Many others who cannot give financially support us in other ways. To a large degree, it is our network of delegation participants that sustain us and we thank them for their continued support.
The fee we charge for ground costs for our delegations is calculated based on our actual on-the-ground costs for lodging, meals, meetings, transportation, and incidentals. It is not inflated to have delegations be “income-generating,” nor does it even cover most staff time and overhead necessary to plan the delegation from the US. We firmly believe that IFPB delegations should be open to as many as possible and that is why we work hard to provide a thorough, safe, and professional delegation experience at the lowest cost possible.
Who funds IFPB’s work?
IFPB is mainly supported financially by small individual donations. We receive over half our operating income from individual donors and past delegation participants. Our average donation is approximately $75 per gift. Almost half of past delegation participants are financial donors to IFPB. Many others who cannot give financially support us in other ways. To a large degree, it is our network of delegation participants that sustain us and we thank them for their continued support. See question 19 above for more financial information on IFPB. You can help support us by making a secure donation online.
How can I contact IFPB?
The best way to contact us is through this website. IFPB’s main office is in Washington, DC and our West Coast office is located in San Francisco, CA. Program Coordinator Mike Daly and Senior Fellow Joe Groves work from Washington DC and Communications and Grants Coordinator Jacob Pace works from San Francisco. Our active and experienced Board of Directors is located around the United States.