Cycle ’48 is about exploring historic Palestine on two wheels; remembering erased histories and witnessing the present-day reality.
We are three women who found each other in Palestine after all having cycled here from the UK. We pedaled thousands of kilometers across Europe, gaining a beautiful understanding of freedom of movement, and arriving at a land where it is denied.
After being in Palestine for a couple of months, we met and talked about what we could do together to challenge the raging injustice here. It is hard to know how to respond to the realities of occupation and apartheid, particularly as UK citizens. How to resist the eradication of a people from their land, which has the support of powerful governments around the world, including our own?
Fortunately, the international community has already been given some direction in ways to resist: BDS – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – is a call from Palestinian civil society, a non-violent movement designed to challenge the Israeli occupation and apartheid system.
We were drawn to the Stop the JNF campaign, as part of the broader BDS strategy, this campaign aims to highlight the Jewish National Fund (JNF)’s direct involvement in uprooting Palestinians from their land and erasing the evidence that they ever lived there.
As British (and one Jewish) citizens, we are acutely aware of Britain’s historic complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and role in upholding this system today. We can’t do much about the Balfour Declaration now, but we can stop supporting the JNF.
While serving as a fundraiser for Israeli policies of displacement of Palestinians, erasure of their memory, and destruction of the natural environment, the JNF enjoys charitable status in the UK (through its affiliate organisation, the JNF UK). We are calling on the British public to demand this status be revoked, and urge everyone to join the BDS movement.
So back on the bikes we climb. This time to unveil the JNF bike path from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. On their website, the JNF describe the beautiful sites, scenic forests, and nature reserves. What they don’t tell you is that the route passes through villages that were destroyed and depopulated during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which began in 1947 and continues to this day.
Along the way, we will be stopping at some of the sites, where thriving Palestinian villages once stood. Places that are ingrained in the memory of Palestinian families, yet are determinedly wiped from the map by the Israeli state. We will be meeting refugees, listening to stories, and sharing their visions for reconciliation and return.
Our collective thirst for environmental and social justice has led us here – to this project – the BDS movement and the Stop the JNF campaign – bringing it all together to create a bike trip remapping historic Palestine, remembering the history of Palestinians, and promoting the Right of Return to this land.
We invite you to join us on our journey.
Follow our cycle from the 10th – 15th February 2015 on this blog, where we will be uploading photographs, videos, refugee stories, and village histories as we go.
And share this project far and wide.