Cycle for Peace

Friday, February 17, 2006 12.00am
by Archy de Berker

This August, cyclists are invited to push pedals for peace in the second ?Peace cycle? from London to Israel. The ride is an international protest for the rights of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

On the 6th of August, campaigners from all over the world will depart from London for Jerusalem where they will arrive in September, having embarked upon an epic journey through Europe topped off with a tour of Israel and the West Bank. Along the way cyclists will meet with politicians and the public to raise awareness of the 38 years of subjugation that the Palestinians have suffered under military occupation, and call for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine.

Laura Abraham, the organizer, described the situation in 2004, when the last trip took place: ?An ambulance carrying a girl, who had a cut to her head, was being made to wait for three hours at an Israeli checkpoint. It seemed like the Israeli soldiers where constantly trying to make life hard for the Palestinians, in a hope that life would become so difficult, so humiliating, that they would be forced to leave. Each village was like a small prison, cut off from the next?at Kalkilia (a Palestinian settlement), fencings and walls encircle the town. You must abandon your vehicle and climb through the rubble placed their by Israeli soldiers.? Laura stresses that: ?we are not anti-Israeli. We are anti-Israeli policy, which is recognised as illegal. There are several groups of Israeli?s who do wonderful work; for instance a group of rabbis who help the Palestinians pick their olive crops each year.? She states that ?we don?t pretend we can change the world. But we hope to make a difference?.

Cyclists should register soon, as places are limited. Application forms are available from www.thepeacecycle.org (Note: This site was unavailable at the time of writing)

The ride aims to make clear to the world that lasting peace can only be achieved by an end to injustice, and a recognition of the rights of every human being to live a liberated life, free from fear of repression, eviction or violence.

Each cyclist is asked to raise their own sponsorship, to cover the costs of the journey, which average out at about ?50 a day; this accounts for accommodation, support vehicles etc. Any money left over will be donated to the rebuilding of the Freedom Sietta, a refugee camp established by an Israeli woman but destroyed by the Israeli army in an act of wanton destruction typical of the situation that the Peace Cycle aims to alleviate.

The ride is a strenuous one, and young children are unlikely to be able to cope, although all support is appreciated in the early stages of the ride, where a rally will see the cyclists off from London.

A training weekend occurs in April, informing the cyclists of the protocol to observe when on the ride, which passes through an area of military occupation and political tension.

The founder of the Peace Cycle, Laura Abraham, can be contacted by email at laura@thepeacecycle.org or by phone on 07941056616.

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