Filc, Dani, Nadav Davidovitch and Nora Gottlieb. “Beyond ‘New Humanitarianism’: Physicians for Human Rights–Israel’s Mobile Clinic and Open Clinic on the Interface of Social Justice, Human Rights and Medical Relief.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 7.1 (2015): 88-108.
The present article examines two projects of Physicians for Human Rights–Israel (PHR–IL)—a clinic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a clinic for undocumented migrant workers and asylum seekers—in order to examine the tensions between medical humanitarian aid, human rights advocacy and egalitarian political activism. Through the examination of PHR–IL the article argues that it is possible to create a hierarchical synergism between those three modes.
Since 1993 the international community has invested more than $24 billion in ‘peace and development’ in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). That aid was meant originally to support the Oslo Peace Process through economic development. However, neither peace nor development has been realized, and both seem increasingly unlikely. While examining donor operations, priorities and the ‘aid-for-peace’ agenda, this article investigates whether patterns in oPt donor aid have changed following the Arab uprisings of 2011. Building on 28 original interviews with Palestine aid actors, it was found that patterns remain unchanged and that donors remain transfixed on a long failed ‘Investment in Peace’ framework that was designed for economic development by the World Bank back in 1993. By comparing these research findings with the literature on aid to Palestine, this article argues that donors are not ready to alter a framework dominated by policy instrumentalists who emphasize pre-determined normative values over actual results, quietly trading financial inducements to Palestinians to forgo political rights within a ‘peace dividends’ model. Meanwhile, critics of the existing aid framework remain largely ignored and have little influence on aid policy, in spite of two decades of instrumentalist failure to produce peace or economic growth using the existing model.
Israeli–Palestinian cooperation on healthcare initiatives demonstrates the potential for progress toward peace through nongovernmental partnerships while formal government negotiations falter. Health interventions create space for opposing groups to engage peacefully and collaboratively, but disagreement persists about the politicization of humanitarian assistance. Together with other sectors of society, the healthcare community can contribute to achieving and maintaining peace between Israelis and Palestinians as part of a multitrack peacework strategy. The Arab Spring’s revitalization of democracy and civil society throughout the region creates opportunities for broad-based, civilian-motivated movements for change. Drawing on events during the 2008–2009 Gaza War and experiences with various healthcare programs, I describe three mechanisms by which peace can be advanced through health initiatives and review what evidence is available to support this approach.