posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 03:49 PM
1. Tell us about the work you do and why it's important?
I am currently working in the Palestinian Medical Relief Society as an External Relations Officer. This organization is one of the leading health and social providers that provides services both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society has been working to improve the access to health care for all in the Palestinian territories since its foundation in 1979, both by providing Primary Health Care to the population and by advocating and lobbying for health and Human Rights and for the development of the Palestinian health infrastructure.
This scope of work is extremely important, especially taking into consideration the context of the situation we live in. Many Palestinians have no access to healthcare because of the checkpoints, barriers, Apartheid Wall, and countless restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation. The poverty levels and unemployment rates ultimately contribute to the access to healthcare. PMRS aims at increasing the overall well being of Palestinians as a vital parameter in the reduction of social inequalities and in an attempt of raising the standard of living for all in the territories. On the one hand, providing quality health care and social services to vulnerable Palestinians in marginalized and isolated areas will significantly contribute to alleviate poverty by preventing two of its major causes: sickness and complications of diseases.
As a leading organization, our scope of work targets not only the West Bank, but also the besieged Gaza Strip, Area C which is an area constituting over 60% of the West Bank but is fully under Israeli control, and East Jerusalem which is also under Israeli control and under threat of Judaization. PMRS fully strives at offering services and promoting health as a human right to all Palestinians in the occupied territories, despite the countless restrictions encountered.
2. What is the future of Palestine?
One must go to Palestine to understand the occupation: to visually see the Apartheid Wall cutting through and stealing Palestinian land – 85 percent of which is inside the internationally recognized Green Line border; to grasp the concrete facts of the expansion of settlements and the Judaizing of Jerusalem in the so called “settlement freeze” or “negotiation” process; to hear and become familiar with families who have lost loved ones; to experience the overwhelming feeling of shame as you are a helpless bystander while the siege on Gaza continues, and for checkpoints and roadblocks to be mere norms in addition to the Israeli harassment that is intricately woven into the everyday lives of Palestinians. These are our facts on the ground. Unfortunately, they are not diminishing – they are growing.
The future of Palestine is still being written as we speak. Unfortunately, it is inevitably linked with Israeli policies and the failure of the international community to pressure Israel in complying with international law and UN resolutions. However, taking into the consideration the reality we are living in, what I see is the continuation of the human rights violations, land confiscation, eviction from homes, and increased imprisonment of innocent Palestinians.
Yet, I am proud to say, that Palestinians will continue to struggle until they are liberated. What we are calling for are the rights of all Palestinians, whether in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian land of 1948, refugee camps, and those in the Diaspora.
Palestinians are committed in their liberation through a nonviolent popular resistance struggle. The basic fact is that we are being occupied by a foreign colonial army. Despite this, I am certain that Palestinians will continue to struggle and that we will never accept to be objects of an occupation regime. We will continue to exist on our land, as we fully believe our existence is indeed resistance in itself.
3. What role can social entrepreneurship play in Palestine?
Social networks have played a role in conveying the Palestinian message. Social media network such as Facebook, blogs and Twitter have conveniently facilitated this process. During the weekly protests in areas such as Nabi Saleh, Masara, and Bilin up to date information is tweeted live via Twitter. In addition to this, livestreaming has also been used in order to fully convey our nonviolent popular struggle and how we are continuously suppressed by Israeli aggression.
We have also been able to tell the stories of Palestinian prisoners who have went on hunger strike because they refused to accept the fact of being held in administrative detention, which is being held in Israeli jails without charges. Hana Shalabi and Khader Adnan’s struggle and how they engaged in a 43 (Hana Shalabi) and 66 (Khader Adnan) day hunger strike were publicized, as well as the raising awareness of the brutal conditions thousands of Palestinian prisoners endure.
Through social networks, now we are able to be in contact with other Palestinians. For example, we have built a strong base of networks of Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem, and in the occupied 1948 Palestinian land. Technology has beaten the restrictions of Israeli occupation, though we are not able to gather and meet, we are at least able to keep in touch virtually. We have also been able to establish networks with other Palestinian solidarity groups whether in the US, UK and Europe which helps us in publicizing any event or news that unfolds in the occupied Palestinian territories.
4. What affect has the Arab revolution had?
The Arab revolution has inspired the masses in order for them to believe that the impossible is possible. As Palestinians, we have closely followed the events of the Egyptian, Syrian and Tunisian revolutions, yet unfortunately we see no concrete results or solutions. What people seem to neglect to understand is that the struggle of popular resistance was adopted by Palestinians in the First Intifada. During the Arab Spring, media focused on this supposed “new” type of resistance calling for freedom, when in fact Palestinians have been calling for their freedom ever since they were ethnically cleansed and dispossessed in 1948, when the Zionist idea was made a reality through the creation of an Israeli state.
We must take into consideration (despite the results) that whether in Tunisia or Egypt, the people united against an authoritarian regime. Their underlying common ground was that they wanted to remove the corrupt despot. For us as Palestinians it is quite different; it is the Israeli occupation we want removed, but it is even more complex because it is a divided country (West Bank and Gaza Strip) and political system trying to liberate itself from a powerful occupying regime.
5. Describe yourself in one word.
6. What is your favourite hobby and why?
I like to spend my time reading and following up news because it allows you to be engaged in what is going on around you. It allows you to gain new information and knowledge which inevitably facilitates dialogue and discussion. In my opinion, the more you read, the more you know, and the more you know gives you an increased potential to influence the society you live in.