30 September 2019

The Palestinian civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories are working under complex and difficult political, societal conditions in order  to serve the Palestinian society  living inside the occupied Palestinian territories, This community is described as a "minority", representing the Arab minority within "Israel", with a  21% of the population of  more than 1.9 million people, this population are  holder of Israeli citizenship, despite that they are suffering from difficult living conditions due to  "Israel" racist and discriminatory policies against them.

With a number of 1298 Palestinian and Arab organizations and NGOs working in the Occupied Territories, most of  the time these organizations are obliged to deal with Israeli official bodies or be within a compatible framework with the authorities there, Other organizations work independently through external funding from academics, fund-holders and sponsors, some of which fall under the wing of Arab parties in the occupied territories.

Despite the fact that Arab civil society is active in a state that claims to enforce the law, the occupying authorities views this civil society with clear discrimination on both official and legal level,  the Civil society remains preoccupied with confronting the state policy towards the Arab society,  this confrontation come in a form of  challenging the dominant cultural, religious and political system, with demands for genuine democracy, therefore, the Arab civil society organizations in the  1948 occupied territories  are interested in areas were the Arab community exist and were the occupied authorities refrain from providing  care or attention  for in several  fields that concern the community such as cultural, educational and social matters.

 The Challenges:

Significant obstacles facing the work of Palestinian civil society organization in the occupied territories at various levels of work, the most prominent of which are:  issues Concerning lands and demolition decisions of Palestinian structures, And violence against women, Racial incitement and hate speech directed against them, In addition to laws restricting financial support especially from foreign entities such as the United States and the European Union. A law that was approves in July 2017 obliges organizations to register sources of support and fund with the Registrar of Associations, which publishes  these information online, Therefor, organizations  are obliged by force to publish the names of their funders in their letters addressed to the public, organizations  that refuse to comply with this law are fined 29,000 NIS. 25 human rights organization out of 27 for example are subjected to this law.

Moreover, the identity  distortion policies practiced by the occupation governments towards the Arab community  that adopt methods  affecting the Palestinian and Arab identity for these organizations , in an attempt to force the Arab community  to abandon its Arab affiliation, especially with education  curriculum and other directions.

Methods of confrontation:

Observers and activists in Arab civil society organizations in the occupied territories consider this as their responsibility ,to face the challenges and constraints imposed by Israeli policies on the work of the organizations, this responsibility lies on different strata and categories; for not seriously seeking to address these policies, The Israeli government bears most of the accumulation for these problems because of the lack of attention addressed to issues that concern the Arab community in the 1948 occupied territories.

As part of its role, Palestinian civil society organizations in the occupied territories are discussing several issues that Palestinian organizations and society are exposed to, this ongoing debate on ways to resolve these issues. These civil society organizations work is to  organize the society and directs its various sectors to fight for the rights and freedom which  the Israeli authorities are violating alongside its racist societal frameworks , this fight for rights might be achieved through  formation of  group work of collective action to raise people's awareness on these issues with organized public action that might find resolution through workshops, conferences, activities and various projects covering all fields as well as the organization of regular camps for youth Arab student.

It is not possible to understand Palestinian civil society inside the occupied territories a paert from viewing the political system in which these organizations operates under, it can be seen that this system is clearly biased on ethnical, cultural and national level for its Jewish citizens and clearly ignores the Arab citizens, furthermore these policies are marginalizing the Arab community in the occupied territories.

The “identity camps” that have been held annually for  the past 19 years in the occupied interior are an example,  these camps are considered as a legacy project handed down to future generations, where the camp works to educate the younger generation about Palestinian national identity and issues, and is organized by the youth movement of  National Democratic Rally, The last of these camps was held in August 2019 under the name “Jerusalem for us” with the participation of hundreds of Palestinian children from all the cities of the occupied territories, The camp consists of a series of events and workshops that combine cultural, educational, national, which all fall under the Palestinian identity education .

Recommendations:

The civil society in the occupied territory is composed of a group of activists, community actors, political leaders and experts, the optimal investment for the work of these competencies is to move away from the individual work and start a united framework and networking between them and the different frameworks, The success of field work is always connected with factors of integration between the professional and political work , furthermore, by not confining  the work only to the professional or organizations and vice versa.

In this context, the international platform of NGOs working for Palestine (i Palestine) seeks to establish a representative and coordinating framework for all organizations and institutions working in the Palestinian affairs, including Palestinian and Arab organizations in the occupied territories, The international platform is preparing to launch its report on the Palestinian civil society organizations in the occupied territories and the its most prominent developments and challenges of work.