On Tuesday May 22, the Mossawa Center hosted a roundtable at the Carmel Center to discuss Mossawa´s paper Palestinian NGO´s in Israel. The roundtable was attended by the European Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret and representatives of Palestinian organisations in Israel that included; The Mossawa Center, CEGAS, Humanity Crew, The Coalition Against Racism, The Arab Committee for Alternative Planning, Shatil, Altufula, Kayan, Mada al carmel, Ilam, Mahpach, Adalah, Naqab Network, Masar, Deir al Assad Local Council, Women Against Violence, Cancer Association, Social development committee and the Arab Human Rights Association.
The Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret opened the discussion with remarks on behalf of the European Union in support of Civil Society.
The paper traces the rise and role of Palestinian-Arab NGO´s in Israel and the challenges they face working within the framework of the State. During the roundtable the discussion centred around shrinking spaces for expression and action, and a lack of right to protest. One participant stated “If someone like Jafar can be arrested and beaten none of us are safe.” Also discussed was were issues related to; identity, the 2 state solution and the agenda of the settler movement, working with Jewish partners, funding and more.
Some of the conclusions reached by the participants included, the need for better cooperation among Palestinian CSOs both in Israel and in the oPt, the importance of including youth in these discussions and in future strategic planning and the Need for more international support both financial and political. One participant (Nabila) said, “For 30 years we have been saying that we cannot do this alone” The main conclusion from the evening was that this roundtable was just the beginning of a process both to improve the draft paper and to improve communication and cooperation among Palestinian CSOs.
The roundtable was held against the backdrop of the recent arrest and police brutality against our Director Jafar Farah and 18 others. Mr. Farah and 18 others were arrested during a protest against the killing of 60 and injuring of more than 2500 Palestinian protestors in Gaza. Mr. Farah and several others detainees were the victims of police brutality while in custody and Mr. Farah’s knee was broken as a result. Mossawa Center and the Palestinian-Arab community in Israel are nationally and historically connected to the people of Gaza and it is the right of every citizen in a democratic society to publicly protest the actions of their government.
The focus of the roundtable was on past and present issues facing Arab civil society organizations in Israel. Accordingly the issue of shrinking spaces for expression and police violence against Arab citizens was a key part of the discussion. The paper and roundtable are part of a project funded by the European Union focused on strengthening Arab civil society organizations in Israel.
The event was closed with a joint Iftar (breaking of the fast for Ramadan).