Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign is a network of Palestinian grassroots community groups from all over the Jordan Valley and international supporters. Its aims are to protect Palestinian existence and the unique environment of the Jordan Valley by building international support for communities on the ground. This includes monitoring, recording and aiming to prevent demolitions, land confiscations, and abuse of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli occupation.
The Israeli military occupation since 1967 has been attempting to gradually annex the area (which is 28% of the occupied West Bank). Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Olmert both declared that Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley, and the army is fulfilling this promise by by expanding illegal settlements and trying to drive Palestinians from their land through house demolitions, movement restrictions, curfews, arbitrary arrest and detention, land confiscations, and denial of access to water, electricity, health and education.
In 2003, several community members in the Jordan Valley came together to try to build a community-based campaign to defend the indigenous community’s presence. Today, the campaign continues to grow, and has spread to all of the Palestinian communities in the Valley. As a grassroots campaign, Jordan Valley Solidarity relies entirely on community members volunteering their time and energy.
Since its inception, the campaign has been open to working with any individual or organization that shares its political analysis of the problem facing the Palestinians of the Jordan Valley and shares the commitment to maintain and strengthen Palestinian presence in the Valley. JVS officially partners with:
Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity, which supports JVS through organizing delegations and a long term presence in the valley, disseminating information and supporting twinning projects
Machsom Watch, a movement of Israeli women, peace activists from all sectors of Israeli society that documents everyday reality for Palestinians in the Territories in an attempt to influence public opinion in the country and in the world, and thus to bring to an end to the occupation.
The Campaign’s activities center around non-violent actions, which strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinians in the Valley. Their work varies, depending on the needs and priorities of the local communities, but in recent years they have:
- supported villages such as Fasayil and Ka’abne to build community schools
- helped several different communities to run water pipes to their local area
- mobilized local communities around rebuilding structures destroyed by the Israeli occupation
- built roads so people can more easily access their homes
- mobilized and educated Jordan Valley communities about the traditional methods of building using homemade hay-and-clay bricks
The second major task of the campaign is raising awareness about the plight of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley and the urgency of supporting them both at the national and international level. This advocacy work is carried out through:
- preparing written, audio, and visual materials that advocates of Palestinian rights can use
- trying to attract media attention to the situation in the Jordan Valley
- offering eyewitness tours for visitors to Palestine so they can see for themselves what is described above
- persuading international agencies to operate in the Jordan Valley, to provide the services most needed by the local community, and to monitor the effects of the Israeli policies and practices on the people and the land.
The Campaign continues to face several challenges. One of the first obstacles to mobilizing the local community is the large distance between the communities of the 150 km long Jordan Valley.
“There is no cost-effective public transport available to Palestinians in the Valley, including the campaign organizers. While dealing directly and in-person with community members is the ideal means of communication, the use of phones and other communication technology is also very expensive, since there is no Palestinian communication infrastructure outside of the Area A and B towns and villages, and the Israeli alternative is costly. The Internet is completely useless as a means of communication within the Valley given that only an extremely tiny minority has Internet access. The dearth of sources of funding that would allow for the Campaign to sustain itself as an independent grassroots initiative is a further major challenge.”