Interfaith Peace-Builders began as a program of the Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA (FOR) in November 2000, a month into the Second (or Al Aqsa) Intifada. The Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in 1914 to oppose all wars, to work for reconciliation, and to strive to create cultures of peace. It started with a handshake between “enemies” (in this case, a British and a German pastor on the eve of World War I) and has built upon a tradition of person-to-person contact in conflict situations ever since. In this spirit, 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.
In 2000, the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People (PCR) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in West Jerusalem, Israel invited FOR to send an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine to explore the possibility of organizing regular delegations. Their reasons for requesting such a program were:
- to help repair homes which had been damaged or destroyed in the war
- to learn first-hand about the conflict through staying in homes and meeting with Palestinian and Israeli activists and organizations involved in work for peace, human rights, and an end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza
- to learn how the conflict has influenced the greater region such as Lebanon and Jordan and
- to educate the public on their experience when the delegation returns to the United States.
This first Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation arrived in the region in January 2001, at the height of renewed conflict. As of this writing in May 2009, IFPB’s Delegation Program has organized 30 delegations to Israel/Palestine (including some which have also visited Lebanon and Jordan) and brought nearly 450 people to the region. Each delegate has returned to her/his community with a heightened understanding of the conflict and the military, economic and diplomatic role of the United States.
In July 2006, Interfaith Peace-Builders became an independent organization working in partnership with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Since that time IFPB has expanded our domestic programming by launching a new Education and Advocacy Program and developing further tools and resources to support delegate activism in the United States. The Education and Advocacy Program encourages civic engagement and promotes movement building. IFPB delegates have participated in thousands of events and been interviewed for more than 1,000 newspaper articles as well as hundreds of radio and television programs.
Interfaith Peace-Builders also works in solidarity with a wide range of other organizations through national coalitions and partnerships. Since independence, IFPB has pioneered a delegation partnership model that has proved to be 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. Since 2006 IFPB continued to retain strong ties with FOR, working together on several projects for FOR’s Grassroots Civilian Diplomacy project, and by continuing to represent FOR in Israel/Palestine. Furthermore, IFPB has partnered with the American Friends Service Committee, the National Peace Foundation, Global Majority, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. 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. Learn more about our coalition work and co-sponsored delegations here.
In addition to these partners, Interfaith Peace-Builders draws on a wide range of organizational connections in Israel/Palestine to support and work with the delegations. Click here to learn more about the people and organizations we meet.
Participants on IFPB delegations come from across the US, Canada and internationally. They are diverse representatives of various communities including people of all ages from a variety of ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. Click here to hear what delegation participants have to say about their experience.
Interfaith Peace-Builders strives to organize delegations that are broad and diverse. There are many enthusiastic people who want to go on a delegation but cannot afford it. Our Scholarship Fund enables many young people, low income activists, people of color, and interfaith leaders to participate in our work. Click here to directly assist these people by making a secure donation to the Scholarship Fund.