Nearly two hundred men and women left Mandatory Palestine between the years 1936–1938 in order to defend the Second Spanish Republic. Despite the expressions of solidarity with the Spanish Republic, most of the political parties in the Jewish Yishuv were against sending youth from Palestine to join the International Brigades. The goal of strengthening the Jewish presence in Palestine was given priority over and above international solidarity or the anti-Fascist struggle. Therefore, most of the volunteers were Jewish members of the Palestine Communist Party.
This article relies on autobiographical writings, individual testimonies and personal correspondence, analysed here for the first time. It is here that the private voices of the Jewish men and women who left Palestine in order to fight against the nationalist rebellion in Spain ring more clearly. The paper examines the history of these Jewish volunteers, their motivations, and the process that they went through from the time they left Palestine until they became active members of the International Brigades.
As Communists, most volunteers who left Palestine to fight in Spain tended to emphasize the international solidarity of the working class and similar universalistic motivations. The idea of affirming their Jewish identity was alien to them. Reading their letters and testimonies, however, it becomes clear that their ethnic identity as Jews was certainly a key factor in their decision to risk their lives in the Spanish fratricide.
The strong correlation between aid and the balance of payments deficit discussed in this article indicates that, regardless of how one chooses to measure the relationship between aid and the trade deficit, the inescapable conclusion is that the majority of aid money finds its way sooner or later into the Israeli economy. As exports to the OPT account for approximately 5% of total Israeli exports (BOI, 2014:54-55), and the majority of these exports are financed by international aid, one can conclude that international aid to Palestinians contributes billions of dollars to the Israeli GDP and makes it possible for Israel to afford the continued military occupation. The findings here indicate that at least 78% of aid money is used to import from Israel, thereby covering at least 18% of the costs of the occupation for Israel.
The question arises of whether the Israeli government would end the occupation if aid ceased? Would the Israeli authorities rebuild the Civil Administration to assume their responsibilities under IHL in place of international donors? Or would they remain indifferent to a mass humanitarian disaster that could cost the lives of thousands of Palestinians? The tremendous moral implications of these questions indicate that aid is not something to be toyed with when so many lives are at stake. Nevertheless, the dependence of the Israeli authorities on international aid to the Palestinians as a mechanism to finance the ongoing military occupation gives donors important leverage to put pressure on Israel. This leverage carries with it political responsibilities. Donors cannot close their eyes to the fact that their donations are enabling the occupation and have funded grievous violations of international law. They are not themselves the occupiers of the Palestinians in the OPT, but decades of acquiescing to Israeli demands and conditions on the disbursement of aid have turned them into accomplices to Israel’s crimes.
Sabah Haider’s PhD research project investigates alternative histories of the Israeli-Arab conflict, during the 1970s and 80s. Specifically she will explore the use of Pakistani foreign fighters by the PLO to engage in armed conflict with Israel, and will seek to understand the ideological, political and cultural contexts of the participation of Pakistanis in this conflict. She will highlight and ask how and why complex and transnational histories are excluded from dominant Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Harpaz, Guy. “The EU Funding of Israeli Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations: When EU External Governance Meets a Domestic Counter-Strategy.” European Foreign Affairs Review 20.2 (2015): 207–25.
This article analyses the European Union’s (EU’s) practice of funding of Israeli Human Rights NGOs. It argues that the pursuance of such a model of governance is a natural choice for the EU, yet such pursuance has encountered in Israel a bottom-to-top counter-strategy of delegitimization conducted against the EU, the NGOs and their collaboration. This counter-strategy was found to discredit the NGOs and the EU and render their mutual collaboration less effective.
The 2014 summer war on Gaza was the third in the last six years and in many ways the most devastating one. While the triggers to this war were the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teenagers angazd the subsequent kidnapping and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager, the real reasons can be traced back to the international community’s failed and myopic policies towards Gaza. Moreover, by adopting the ‘West Bank first’ strategy the international community has failed to blow some fresh air into what is left of the so-called Middle East Peace Process and has acted as the abettor of the recent war.
Since the end of the Cold War, the quest to spread democracy has become the rallying call of many Western donor agencies. Reflecting this new agenda, new program priorities prevailed that placed greater emphasis on civil society development, civic engagement and gender empowerment. Contrary to expectations, however, many of these programs have often adversely affected existing social movements. Most scholars attempting to explain these unintended outcomes have focused on the impact of NGO professionalization. Examining the Palestinian women’s movement, this article addresses the inadequacy of this explanation and focuses on the political dimension of this discussion by illustrating how Western donors’ lack of understanding of the Palestinian women’s movement and its “embeddedness” in the broader political context served to weaken and undermine this movement. The influx of Western donor assistance in the post-Madrid, post-Oslo era, along with the greater emphasis on Western promoted gender empowerment, undermined the cohesiveness of the women’s movement by exacerbating existing political polarization (that went beyond Islamist and secular divisions) and disempowering many grassroots activists. Effectively, many of these activists were transformed from active political participants involved in their organizations to the recipients of skills and services in need of awareness raising. Findings in this article also speak to current regional developments, especially in light of the current Arab uprisings and the promise of greater Western involvement to empower women in the region.
Because of the flaws, limits, or political impossibility of some of these options, the status quo may be the best of a bunch of poor choices. Nevertheless, given the problems with Israel’s current approach and the paucity of good alternatives, some changes are necessary. The analysis suggests the importance of helping moderate Palestinians govern more competently and become politically stronger: currently they are on the path to political irrelevance. In addition, the world should offer pragmatists in Hamas political opportunities, giving them another path to success beyond violence. Finally, options that offer small changes in the status quo deserve consideration. Such steps would, over time, enable Israel to take more risks and allow everyone to move beyond the current stalemate
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.