2 November 2013

changing paradigms

Throughout my six years of experience in program and resource development in civil society organizations, I have often come across international donors who refuse funding programs that benefit Palestinian citizens of Israel. Their refusal is usually based on a conscious decision to focus their funding on projects directly working towards ending the occupation, or programs benefiting Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt).

The rationale behind the refusal to fund programs benefiting Palestinian citizens of Israel is, in my belief, false. It lies in the “either / or” paradigm and in comparing the oppression of Palestinians inside Israel with that of Palestinians in the oPt.

International donors must change their basis for decision-making in their grantmaking process, which requires a change in perceptions. I believe this change will not come unless we raise a clear voice and facilitate their understanding of the situation. Until then, we Palestinian citizens of Israel, will be further pushed into the margins, and our unique needs further ignored.

Donors who support the Palestinian cause and work towards ending the Israeli occupation must  understand that in order to build a strong and resilient Palestinian society and promote real conflict resolution, there is need to invest resources in all groups of the Palestinian society in the area: Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. Prioritizing this or that group only further serves to fragment our already socially, economically, politically and geographically fragmented society.

It is not an issue of who is oppressed more. Comparison is irrelevant. When I discuss my oppression as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, I do not compare myself with Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank or Gaza, because this is not the point. It is not an issue of who is oppressed more or who is suffering more.

It is rather an issue of investing resources in empowering and supporting all groups of Palestinians – each group according to its unique characteristics and specific social, economic and political needs. The current trend in grantmaking only serves to marginalize the specific needs of the already disenfranchised Palestinian society inside Israel.

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