Our long-term aim is to reduce Palestinian civil society's dependence on international aid. In both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, dependence on international aid has undermined civil society's ability to respond effectively to ever-worsening political, social and economic crises; and dependence has undermined civil society's leadership role in social change and sustainable development.
Rather than offering real solutions, the current international aid system exacerbates hopelessness and helplessness by objectifying beneficiaries and making them feel like beggars. Current US anti-terrorism policies have restricted resources even further. More aid is channelled through the United Nations or international non-governmental organizations, and Palestinian civil society organizations have an ever-harder time finding funds. Often, funding for Palestinian community-based organizations makes them into mere subcontractors for donors goals and priorities.
In the short-term, Dalia is trying to ADVOCATE for an international aid system that respects and responds to local priorities and increases the amount of local control over how resources are used. We do this through our honest relationships with donors and international non-governmental organizations. We also do this through our participation on the Advocacy Committee of Grantmakers without Borders
Another aspect of Dalia Association’s advocacy work involves placing the situation of funding for Palestinians on the international philanthropic agenda and the local political agenda. To this end, in January, 2007, Dalia Association hosted Dan Songco of the Peace and Equity Foundation in Manila. In February, 2007, we hosted Barbara Ibrahim, Director, Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement in the Arab World at the American University in Cairo. In March, 2007, Nora Lester Murad was invited to speak at the International Peacebuilding Conference organized by HiPEC at Hiroshima University in Japan. In April, 2007, we hosted Barry Gaberman, former vice president of the Ford Foundation. In May and June, Dalia Association attended conferences run by I’lam Media Center in Nazareth and Ittijah in Umm al-Fahm. In July, 2007, Nora visited ACCESS, the largest Arab American social service agency in the U.S. at their offices in Dearborn, Michigan. In September, 2007, founding board member, Trees Zbidat-Kosterman, was invited to represent Dalia Association at the Council on Foundations community foundations conference in San Francisco. Also in September, Nora Lester Murad spoke on a panel at the U.K. Community Foundations Network conference in Liverpool. Starting in December, 2007, Nora has contributed periodically to Hildy Gottleib’s blog at Help4Nonprofits.com. In January, 2008, Dalia Association was invited to the Regional Consultation on Arab Philanthropy sponsored by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation in Dubai.
In March, 2008, Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland visited Dalia Association with her colleagues Monina O’Prey and Grainne Kelly. In addition to touring and visiting civil society activists, Avila gave a talk about community foundations to a small group of Dalia Association supporters in Ramallah. She submitted this story about her trip.