Friday, March 16, 2012

Must read: Defeating Dependency on Al Shabaka

This is a vital, essential, excellent policy brief from Al Shabaka (and NOT because they quote my book, but it was nice nonetheless). Alaa Tartir, Sam Bahour and Samer Abdel Nour really kick ass.

"It is vital to address the link between politics, capital and aid. Palestinians must aim to move away from the current context toward a paradigm that understands development as means to realizing rights, freedoms, and self-determination (see, for example, this recent article by economist Ali Kadri). It is also essential to move beyond the technocratic and apolitical understanding of the development process toward recognizing the asymmetry of power and colonial dominance. Many Palestinian writers are touching on different aspects of this dilemma. This body of work needs to be taken a stage further so that it can compete with the existing paradigm and discourse and provide a credible alternative. The status quo only serves to normalize and maintain the Israeli occupation by ignoring the political roots of Palestinian poverty.
The first priority must be self-reliance in terms of basic foods. Small-scale agriculture can – and has – been carried out by Palestinians to feed themselves, e.g. permaculture, rooftop drip gardens, and local biodiversity in terms of crops. Taken to scale, this would gradually reduce and eventually end dependence on food aid. It could also serve to reconnect millions of encamped Palestinians to land-based livelihoods. Much can be learned from Lebanese author Rami Zurayk’s work on how Arab agriculture has been undermined by aid and ways to restore indigenous practices (see his recent book Food, Farming, and Freedomand his blog.)
Importantly, a new Palestinian economic vision must embrace dignity in aid. There must be a time limit by which aid from donor nations supporting any aspect of Israeli military activity is respectfully declined. All international NGOs should agree to work on Palestinian development priorities and timeframes (not three-year donor agendas) and tackle the root causes of Palestinian poverty: the Israeli occupation and resulting restrictions and continuing colonization of Palestine. Transparency in purpose and operations, as well as demonstrated results must be ensured. If we Palestinians do not ensure dignity in our development, no one will."

1 comment:

Eva Bartlett said...

Agreed, fully agreed.

But what to do for Palestinians in Gaza who are shot at or shelled --killed or maimed--by Israeli soldiers when they try to access land 400 metres, 500 metres, 1 kilometer, even 2 kilometers from the Gaza-Israel border?

Or those Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who have to jump through non-existent hoops to get non-existent permits, issued by the Israeli occupation, in order to access and work on their own land...

Palestinians need the ability to AGAIN be self-sufficient, to practice their agricultural history, without being killed, prevented, arrested.