During the last few days there have been more than 950 strikes on Gaza. The violence has especially effected schools and refugee populations. Last week I met with one American organization trying to address these concerns.
“We try to improve lives in Gaza and the West Bank because we believe that they deserve a better life,”said Bill the President and CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA),while talking passionately about ANERA’s work in the Palestinian territories.
ANERA works on improving education, water, sanitation and quality of life for those living in the Palestinian territories by implementing various programs. ANERA reaches out to local and international organizations, NGOs and INGOs in Palestine to be more effective.
ANERA has 60 employees in the Palestinian Territories– 59 are local Palestinians and only 1 is a foreigner. This helps benefit more Palestinians and give them the chance to be more productive and offer them jobs.
ANERA tries to convey the message of American solidarity with Palestinians. They hope to improve people’s lives regardless of who they are. They try their best to remain professional by addressing humanitarian needs and avoiding political interests.
How much do you know about ANERA? What are the pros and cons of ANERA in your opinion?
Reem Akkad on new media: it is a powerful tool but it’s not enough
In describing new media tools, Reem said that they’re useful and we’re lucky to have them, but they’re not an accurate source forreporting. She said, people tend to use new media to broadcast the information they want to be out there, without looking at the bigger picture.
I agree with Ms. Akkad, but I have also seen how crucial new media is to a free press. In situations like the recent conflict in Syria, new media was nearly the only news source from within the country.
What do you think about new media, should it be considered an eligible source for news?
“The Fund works on changing American views toward the Palestinian cause by showing the reality of the Israeli Occupation to the Americans citizens,” said Yousef Mnayer, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund for for Education and Community Development in Washington, D.C.
The Jerusalem Fund was established in 1977 by the Palestinian-American academic, Hisham Sharabi, in order to provide cultural and educational assistance to the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, and to increase understanding of Palestinian issues in the United States. In 1991, Sharabi established the “Palestinian Center” to be the intellectual and cultural institution of the Fund.
Mnayer spoke of how the Fund “increased its human activity during the second Intifada which erupted in 2000 against the Israeli occupation, in order to help the Palestinian steadfastness.”
Today, the Fund also offers several scholarships for Palestinians to study abroad, including Palestinian students living in Israel. Mr. Mnayer said that the fund has provided nearly 10.000 scholarships for Palestinian students.
I agree that scholarships are especially important for the future of young Palestinians because increased education will help them make changes in their communities when they return.
“If you believe anything without the reservation that you might be mistaken, I think that you are overestimating the capability of the human mind,” says Hussein Ibish. Mr. Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine. He is a weekly columnist for Now Lebanon and writes monthly for Alhayat. He is active in advocacy for Arab causes in the United States.
Despite being a skeptic, Mr. Ibish thinks that there are times when we have to take very strong stand, but we have to do it in a way that provokes people who don’t agree with us to think twice.
By being unpredictable, surprising people and by agreeing with his adversaries when they are right and disagreeing with his friends fearlessly when they are wrong, Mr. Ibish tries to provoke people.
I agree with Mr. Ibish, especially when this type of dialogue doesn’t do harm to an important cause, like the struggle to end the occupation of Palestine.
According to his perspective, even emotional pain brings with it a kind of satisfaction, the satisfaction of victim-hood. People don’t want to think, they want to feel the way they feel. They resist change. If you make people think, they lose the identity of victim-hood, says Mr. Ibish.
In Gaza, we live with that feeling of victim-hood all the time.