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Empirical data collected in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (last summer, so far unpublished) reveal that (at least) two “aid industries” exist in parallel. As expressed by one of our respondents (leader of an Islamic charity, Sept 21, 2015, Gaza Strip):

“We don’t get any support from European and American donors, these donors don’t deal with us, they are ashamed to deal with us. While they know the we are association providing services for wounded people, they think that the wounded people are military personnel; on the contrary, all the wounded people are civilians. They have been injured during the years of the Intifada and during the wars or the bombing of the Israeli army for many places and houses in Gaza. There are is a very sensitivity to the word ‘wounded’ or ‘injured’ or ‘prisoner’ by those donors (European and American), these donors are boycotting all the Palestinian associations dealing with these category of people wounded or prisoners.”

The one which is “ashamed” to deal with the other has also been accused of promoting neoliberal ideas at the expense of local, Palestinian national (nation-building) interests.

With reference to this complex world (of opinions and realities) two recent publications deserve attention:

Marie Juul Petersen (2015): For Humanity Or For The Umma?: Aid and Islam in Transnational Muslim NGOs. London: Hurst and Co

The book explores how Muslim NGOs conceptualise their provision of aid and the role Islam plays in this and offers insights into a new kind of NGO in the global field of aid provision. It also contributes more broadly to understanding ‘public Islam’ as something beyond political Islam. The book is based on empirical case studies of four of the biggest transnational Muslim NGOs, and draws on extensive research in Britain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Bangladesh.

Linda Tabar and Omar Jabary Salamanca, eds (2015): Critical Readings of Development under Colonialism. Towards a Political Economy for Liberation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ramallah: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Birzeit University’s Center for Development Studies

The point of departure of this latter publication is to elaborate on “the critical development discourse in Palestine” that has “become part of the overall debate of development under colonial settings.”

 

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The fact that  the US prioritizes Mubarak-era security arrangements over (transition to) democracy according to a draft version of a bill (Making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes) does not reflect more (nor less) that ties and bonds do matter as long as (i) there is a common enemy to win over or dangers to overcome (ii) democracy is not a sacred cow. Fear matters more than political ideas.

Reading p 133-134 (paragraphs on Egypt) it is clear how “foreign aid” is linked to regional considerations and donor interests: “Funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act that are made available for assistance for the Government of Egypt may be made available notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except such funds may only be made available if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that such government is (A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt- Israel Peace Treaty.”

AL-Monitor quotes panel member Dutch Ruppersberger, justifying the proposed bill this way: “If you have an ally you work with them. You don’t tear them down, you build them up (..) if we walk away, do you want China, Russia to move in and take them over? That’s kind of the things you have to look at.”

The objective of foreign (development, military) aid practices is to perpetuate the bond (Furia 2015, 4) as long as the bond is seen as a means or guarantee to prevent non-desired outcomes.

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Julian Pecquet: “Congress seeks to lift last restrictions on aid to Egypt” Al-Monitor, June 1, 2015 available at http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/06/state-department-congress-funding-egypt.html#ixzz3c5IFuVjz

The last post has been about the EU’s ‘perpetual’ position and argument on the necessity of keeping the peace process alive. People in the region are much less sure about the viability of this idea:

Arab Barometer, wave III (2012-2104), q708 on the future of the peace treaty/process vis-a-vis Israel (Jordan, Egypt, Palestine)

Arab Barometer, wave III (2012-2104), q708 on the future of the peace treaty/process vis-a-vis Israel (Jordan, Egypt, Palestine)

The public opinion is the most critical in Jordan and Palestine. It is interesting that such numbers (opinions) are not incorporated into foreign and aid policy decisions and aid continues to flow for sake of the ‘peace process’ – or keeping silence and stability – without interruption.

There are eight relevant questions asked by Nora Murad (posted by al-Shabaka):

1. Does aid to Palestinians help Israel evade its Fourth Geneva Convention obligations?

2. Do aid actors “give effect” to Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza when they accommodate procedures that hinder humanitarian or development assistance?

3. Is providing military aid to Israel, which it uses to violate Palestinian rights, a violation of Common Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention?

4. Does aid actors’ accommodation of discriminatory national anti-terrorism policies violate the humanitarian principle of impartiality?

5. Does aid to the Palestinian Authority entrench denial of Palestinian rights?

6. Do aid procurement policies that allow Israel to profit from its abuse of Palestinian rights actually incentivize further violations?

7. Does treating Israel as a “special case” erode the fundamental notions and universality of international humanitarian law?

8. Does international disregard for humanitarian principles send a message that Palestinians have no rights and Israel has no obligations?

 

One more question can be added in light of the public opinion: does aid promote something which is not desired by the majority? Or does it serves externally defined donor (Western) objectives, interests and values?

 

Sources: Nora L. Murad: ‘Donor complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights‘ Al-Shabaka Policy Brief, October 2014; Arab Barometer Data is available at: http://www.arabbarometer.org/instruments-and-data-files

 

 

“Sanctions against third countries, individuals or entities, are an essential EU foreign policy tool that it uses to pursue objectives in accordance with the principles of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. (…) In general terms, the EU imposes its restrictive measures to bring about a change in policy or activity by the target country, part of a country, government, entities or individuals. (…) The political objectives and criteria of the restrictive measures should be clearly defined in the legal acts.”

Defining political objectives, measures and legal acts seems to be (un)likely. In the shadow of the events marking the likely start of a third intifada (or something similar) in Jerusalem, there are more and more articles reporting about the ‘red lines’ the EU wants to define. A confidential document – being prepared and distributed in at least 28 copies – discussed the hard-liner ‘restrictive’ actions the EU would take if Israel continues to build settlements especially in the E1 area. The potential proposed measures can be listed as follows: recalling the EU ambassador, restricting free-trade agreements between the EU and Israel, limiting cooperation with Israel in general, and/or marking products manufactured in the settlements for sale in EU supermarkets.

The EU’s official position has remained unchanged. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has denied the claims, saying that the EU has no intention of imposing any sanctions, on the contrary: ‘the core of our worries and of our efforts is and will be not to react to negative steps, but to engage in positive processes ‘, EEAS Press Release, remarks by High Representative, Federica Mogherini, Brussels, 17/11/2014, Q&A section: Il n’y a pas de plan de ce type. J’ai vu un article d’Haaretz qui fait référence à un document de travail  et le publie. Il s’agit apparemment d’un document de travail interne demandé par les États membres il y a quelques temps, je dirais durant le mandat qui a précédé le mien, mais qui ne forme qu’une hypothèse de travail technique. Ce n’était pas sur la table des ministres aujourd’hui.).

The situation on the ground has also remained unchanged (or if changed, then to the worse). I would not be surprised if Israel would somehow ‘sanction’ the EU development projects in the Palestinian Territories, if the EU went too far in ‘discussing’ restrictive measures. The EU leadership seems to be aware of it. The philosophical question is whether it reflects on its wisdom or incompetence?

Sources: Christopher Harres, ‘European Union Gears Up For Sanctions Against Israel Over Settlements‘, International Business News, 17 November, 2014; Barak Ravid, ‘EU document suggests recalling envoys if Israeli settlements threaten two-state solution‘, Haaretz, 17 November, 2014; Forward, ‘Europe Insists No Plans for Anti-Israel Sanctions‘, The Forward, 17 November, 2014; i24news, ‘EU ‘deplores’ Israeli settlement plans but says no sanctions‘, 17 November, 2014;

 

Two notable paragraphs from a book on gifts, corruption and philanthropy. The excerpts are from chapter 2 (the ethics of a gift):

‘Charity becomes a powerful tool for those searching for public relations kudos, or even for real power. The ambivalence of the gift re-appears: the principle of solidarity is used to access or establish a position of power in one way or another, either to be nominated as “the most generous,” or as “the biggest contributor” or to reinforce strong socio-political and business bonds between the acclaimed donor and the ‘miserable’ receiver (who might temporary escape his material deprivation only to find himself trapped in a dependent position vis-à-vis the generous donor). Philanthropy – behavior where intentions could be termed ‘good’ per se becomes a part of public relations/business conquest. Charity may be employed as a very powerful and even manipulative tool to bind people to a (spiritual) goal or mission, or even more blatantly to lock the receiver into one’s self-interested (but often disguised) political-economic objectives’ (Verhezen 2009, 60).

‘The logic of abundance does not directly aim for reciprocity but incites it. Unfortunately and ambiguously, unilateral gifts evidently generate envy and may even trigger violent reactions because the logic of social obligations has been broken as the recipient is in no position to give back’ (Verhezen, 2009, 61).

Verhezen, Peter (2009) Gifts, Corruption, Philanthropy: The Ambiguity of Gift Practices in Business. Bern: Peter Lang