USAid in Palestine

“It’s not about solving the world’s problems but people’s daily ones.”

Former USAid Mission Director in Palestine, Dave Harden, talks about the challenges of achieving effective development in the West Bank and Gaza over his long career with USAid. (The Guardian, Oct 3, 2016)


Looking back on the decade he spent supporting development in Palestine, Dave Harden says the challenge was “getting people past the psychological barrier.”

Harden joined USAid’s West Bank and Gaza mission in 2006 as its deputy head, before becoming its leader in 2013. It was a time of particular tension — in 2005, the Israelis had pulled out of occupying the Gaza strip, withdrawing their troops along with 10,000 settlers. Power was meant to be left to a united Palestinian Authority, governed by the moderate Fatah party in the West Bank.

But in 2006, in a surprise twist, the militant organization Hamas was democratically elected to power. Their refusal to recognize Israel as a state, and a civil war with the Fatah party, led to Hamas governing Gaza and Fatah controlling the West Bank. A blockade of Gaza by Israel soon followed, as did three conflicts, three new peace envoys and Congress freezing USAid funding temporarily in 2011, reportedly because of the Palestinians’ appeal to the United Nations for statehood.

All of this only intensified a longstanding political and humanitarian crisis [pdf] across the Palestinian territories. Today 80% of Gaza’s residents and more than 50% of the West Bank are reliant on humanitarian aid.

[Continue reading here. . . ]

California AB2844

We received this letter from our friends at JVP Los Angeles.


September 26, 2016

Friends,

As you have likely heard, over the weekend Gov. Jerry Brown signed California anti-BDS bill AB 2844 into law. As our coalition looks at next steps, it would be good to know if any church groups here in California have chosen to boycott or divest believe they will/might be affected by this legislation which bars persons (but legally includes entities) from applying or renewing contracts for over $100,000 if they have a “policy” “against any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the government of the United States, including, but not limited to, the nation and people of Israel.”

Thank you to all who engaged in the long and collaborative effort to block this bill from becoming law. My personal frustration with our governor’s decision does not overwhelm my gratitude to all of you and those in our broad coalition for the hours, days, weeks and months we joined together to fight this good fight.

I believe legislators should pay attention to the growing number of constituents who actively work to raise Palestinian rights as we do the rights of all oppressed people and minority groups. All who voted to support this misguided and dishonest legislation will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Let’s stay focused and steadfast as Palestinians are. The arc of the moral universe is long.

— Estee Chandler
JVP-LA Organizer

“Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar Chavez