Northampton Al-Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association
Two Northampton Quakers travelled to the Palestine in 2011 and 2012 with Quaker Voluntary Action, helping with the olive harvest on the West Bank and finding out about the lives and opinions of both Israelis and Palestinians. This led to a new town-twinning organisation called Northampton Al-Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association (NABPFA) being set up.
How NABPFA started
The Israel/ Palestine conflict has been a Quaker concern since 1948, when the State of Israel was formed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became long-term refugees. For the past ten years Quakers have managed the UK contribution to ‘ecumenical accompaniment’ (the World Council of Churches international programme of human rights support in the occupied Palestinian Territories). In 2011 at Britain Yearly Meeting Quakers took the decision to boycott Israeli settlement goods. Quakers want an end to the conflict and an end to the occupation.
Two Northampton Quakers travelled to the region in 2011 and 2012 with Quaker Voluntary Action, helping with the olive harvest on the West Bank and finding out about the lives and opinions of both Israelis and Palestinians. The outcome has been a new town-twinning organisation called Northampton Al-Bireh (Palestine) Friendship Association (NABPFA). Membership is available to everyone who supports the aims:
- To raise awareness in Northampton of the difficulties being experienced by Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories
- To provide a sense of solidarity, support and friendship
- To raise political awareness and increase the numbers of people to put pressure on our government and the European Union to implement internationally agreed treaties and support United Nations resolutions
- To support organisations aiming to work for a just and peaceful solution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine
- To encourage dialogue among people of diverse views as a step towards conflict resolution
- To share cultural, sport and other interests
NABPFA’s twin town in Palestine
Town-twinning is a well-established way of sharing and exchanging information on everyday life in different cultures. Al-Bireh is a Palestinian town in the West Bank about 16 kilometres north of Jerusalem and adjacent to Ramallah, with a population of over 50,000. Al-Bireh is a town with a traditional Arab culture and a long history. It has its own municipal government, a stadium and a library, a Red Crescent hospital and many schools.
We have business meetings to plan activities and we organise public meetings to share information, become better informed, and explore different points of view. Our activities in 2012/13 have included:
- talks and photo exhibitions by visitors to the West Bank
- speakers from representatives of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
- a celebration of Palestinian life and culture at Northamptonshire Central Library
- a visit from EU-funded volunteers from Palestine and France, organised in collaboration with Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association
- visits to local schools
- dialogue with members of Northampton synagogue
If you would like more information about NABPFA please contact the Secretary, through the NABPFA website.