In 2015 and 2016 we have supported a very wide range of organisations and projects bringing bcomenefit to every community – Palestinians, Israeli Jews, migrants and asylum seekers. The Trust has supported projects based in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories focused on human rights work, cross-community collaboration, education, health, women’s rights and anti-poverty programmes.
We continue to favour small, grassroots organisations, many of which have great difficulty in securing funds elsewhere. Grants have ranged from £500 to about £5,000. As well as the Trust’s direct grants, our Post Box facilities have meant that we have been able to help more projects in more organisations. The projects that we have funded all aim to promote peace – each in its own very different way.
This is a small Arab/Jewish community environmental organisation in the Galilee, tackles problems ranging from sewage pollution of local waterways to asbestos in Palestinian schools. It runs joint Palestinian/Jewish initiatives including environmental improvement work, education and government lobbying.
BSST helped fund its youth project: arts and crafts activities, weekly field trips, and clean-up operations involving Palestinian and Jewish 12-16 year olds. Working together for the first time, they enjoy the experience of cooperation and of learning about each other’s communities.
In a park in deprived south Tel Aviv, this outdoor community centre provides a multi-language library, cultural activities and a Children’s Centre which arranges after-school and summer holiday activities for children and teenagers from the local refugee, asylum and migrant worker communities. It also runs a special project, the Levinski Team, targeting ‘at risk’ boys, providing them with leisure activities in a safe environment.
B’Tselem is a leading Israeli human rights organisation. BSST supported one of its
more unusual projects, a ‘small and really cool’ film, in B’Tselem ‘s words, portraying
the ‘unremarkable village of Burquah’. B’Tselem explain they chose this village
precisely because it is unexceptional and represents ‘the occupation’s routine’.
‘Like many other villages, Burqah endures severe travel restrictions … It is also subject to massive land-grabs and restrictive planning, which have turned it into a derelict, crowded and backward village with half its population living at or below the poverty line … our interactive film will take you on a visit … to a high school, clinic, kindergarten, and farm, hearing first-hand stories from residents, an elderly woman, a nurse, a farmer, high school students. It will include a map, photos, videos, testimonies, a huge amount of information. The film gives a voice to real people who are left invisible by the media, and provides the visitor with meticulous data about the effects of the occupation on Burqah … showing how the settlements and their interests play a central role in Israel’s planning, even at the cost of grave harm to Palestinian residents … how a legal administrative web stifles a village’
CfP is an internationally recognised and enormously brave Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, unites former soldiers and paramilitaries. They work together to end violence, via humanitarian aid, joint community projects and human rights campaigns. BSST repeated its grant to CfP’s annual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, which always gains wide media exposure and attracts new Combatants members.
Elhawakeer takes its name from the Arabic word for the small plots of land worked by Palestinian women to provide food for their families. This Galilee-based group promotes the rights of rural Palestinian communities via many creative economic and social initiatives.
BSST’s grant will buy tools and irrigation equipment for the second phase of a project providing groups of women farmers with training in good farming and environmental practices. The project will deliver improved land quality and increased productivity, so the women have surplus produce to sell, raising their self-esteem, offering some financial independence and helping to lift their families out of poverty.
Campaigning group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, asked its supporters to send funds to BSST for this Canadian-initiated project to overcome the constant and lengthy power outages within Gaza. The aim is to provide sufficient solar panels for four hospitals to ensure they are independent of Gaza’s hugely overloaded electricity grid supply.
‘Power outages remain a daily reality in the Gaza strip, lasting more than 16 hours a day. Sick patients are especially vulnerable in hospitals, where insufficient power often decides between life or death. Patients in Gaza are needlessly suffering.
The EmpowerGAZA project will save lives by installing solar panels on four major hospitals. This solar energy will provide reliable and green energy to emergency rooms, intensive care units, and operating theatres. Solar power will make hospitals self-reliant and will empower Gaza hospitals in a sustainable way!’
Fragments Theatre is a tiny, young, but highly productive grassroots arts project based in Jenin, with a growing international profile. Its founders – local actors, filmmakers and technicians – were inspired by Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Palestinian/Israeli director who cofounded Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, and was assassinated in 2011. Unlike the Freedom Theatre, whose audiences and participants come from the refugee camp, Fragments focuses on the people of Jenin City itself.
This year Fragments plans a play created by emerging Palestinian theatre workers and a mass participation video project. Its application to BSST, for a tiny amount of core funding comprising 45% of its total annual budget, enabled its Palestinian woman director to work at Fragments, rather than having to take other jobs.
HIRN is a network of extraordinary projects serving the most needy Palestinians in one of the West Bank cities where the Israeli Occupation is experienced most directly and openly.
Run entirely by volunteers, its activities include kindergartens, school improvements (especially in girls’ schools), an agricultural scheme, and visiting facilities for foreign visitors. It is immensely creative in its fundraising (see both images – skydiving and a boys and girls marathon running team) and has built an impressive network of overseas supporters.
Humans Without Borders is a tiny Israeli grassroots group assisting Palestinian
children from the West Bank who need medical treatment that is only available in
As well as funding treatment, HWB negotiates entry permits to Israel, provides free
transport from checkpoint to hospital via a team of volunteers and helps with
communication between parents and medical staff. It also organizes two annual ‘fun’
events for the children it helps. This year it sought core funding, explaining,
‘We are constantly struggling to obtain the basic sums required … with core funding we could continue supporting dozens of Palestinian families with sick children, unhampered by struggling to obtain small contributions.
Seeing the deep bonds fostered between the families and the HWB volunteers, these are clear indications that what we are doing is successful.’
This Jerusalem-based group promotes ‘a common religious vision for sustainable development’. Along with Rabbis for Human Rights, it runs workshops on environmental issues and human coexistence for Jewish, Muslim and Christian seminary students.
BSST funded an Interfaith Ecology Project. It focuses on women’s leadership, bringing together Christian, Muslim and Jewish women participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, encouraging cross-cultural friendships and partnerships, educating the participants about sustainability and addressing the specific environmental challenges of the Jerusalem area. By the end, the participants are able to build a network of advocates and leaders for their communities.
The Association is a Palestinian Christian group seeking the right to rebuild Iqrit, their Upper Galilee village from which they were evicted in 1948. At the time, they were told they could return in a few weeks, but they have never been allowed to do so and the village has now been destroyed. Alongside continuing legal battles, the widely dispersed population comes back to Iqrit to hold an annual young people’s summer camp among the village ruins.
For the second time, BSST supported Iqrit’s Arab-Jewish cultural event, including ceramic art workshops and a concert by Arab and Jewish musicians.
Iqrit also ran discussions between Jewish and Palestinian youngsters. In reporting back to BSST, Iqrit were very honest in acknowledging the difficulty and tensions that arose in these joint discussions, especially when larger numbers of participants were involved.
Israel Social TV is a web-based media organisation which exposes human rights violations and supports communities threatened by the Israeli Occupation. It produces short films focusing on events largely ignored by the mainstream media.
BSST has a long standing relationship with ISTV. This year we responded to an end of year financial appeal, as well as planning a joint fundraising effort to make a series of films about the Bedouin.
Jenin Freedom Theatre is an internationally-famous community-based cultural centre offering acting, filmmaking, creative writing, psychodrama, photography. It is notable for involving girls and women as well as boys and men. During 2015 the theatre undertook a hugely successful British tour of its play ‘The Siege’.
Guardian review of The Siege: an unexpectedly compelling theatrical experience with a rough and ready energy, and, in the very act of its telling, speaks for the voiceless and forgotten.
Audience comments in Britain: Such a great piece of theatre and passionate acting. Rarely see such depth in the UK; Uncomfortable, heartbreaking, brilliant; Had me in tears at the end. Everyone must see it; Powerful, painful, passionate play. Authentic acting beyond the craft. Truth beyond the art.
Israel is engaged in wholesale movement of Israel’s rural Bedouin population into government-sponsored urban locations. These massively under-resourced and overcrowded towns suffer from poverty, high unemployment, inadequate housing, serious substance abuse and widespread crime.
Local activist group, Kafa, works among the towns’ most deprived Bedouin, seeking to equip residents with the knowledge and skills to engage as citizens and voters, so that they can start to combat their problems.
Al Manarah (The Lighthouse) is a Nazareth-based Palestinian grassroots disability organization, campaigning for people with disabilities to be treated equally, in the Palestinian community and in wider Israeli society. It provides legal representation, information, education and leisure activities.
BSST funded the expansion of its international audio library collection to include 100 new children’s books, which are recorded for visually impaired children in Arabic and will be available over the Internet including through a phone app.
A tiny community psychosocial project from a small town close to Gaza city, Al Nahda Palestine Association provides help to two hundred families. Traumatised children have play, art, drama and counselling sessions, while their parents are taught how to identify and deal with childhood emotional trauma.
The project also spreads knowledge and understanding beyond its direct client group, so it teaches parents how to share their new-found expertise on childhood trauma with other parents in their wider community.
Microfy is a microfinance organization catering solely to refugees. It trains (mostly) African asylum seekers in business skills and, via small loans and consultancy, helps them set up their own enterprises and become independent. Since asylum-seekers live in limbo – unable to get refugee status, yet barred from applying for jobs till their status is regularised – Microfy’s services can be crucial to their families’ survival.
BSST funded projects, at each end of 2015; a training handbook, entrepreneurship courses and an asylum-seekers forum.
Israeli checkpoints prevent West Bank Palestinian families reaching the Mediterranean under their own steam. So, each summer, the four Tel Aviv grandmothers who founded Min el Bahar, organize transport, meals and entertainment for dozens of day trips to the coast, and, crucially, negotiate with the Israeli Defence Forces to ensure it is all possible.
This year BSST again provided funding for West Bank Palestinian children and
parents, to enjoy one of these seaside days out. Since then, thanks to the immense generosity of members of The Funding Network, we have secured a donation which guarantees funding for Min el Bahar for the next three years.
‘Thanks to you, dear friends, we hope the idea behind the sea days, and the human encounter with the Palestinian children and their mothers can grow beyond the small group we have created together, into the hearts of a greater community, and melt the suspicion and fear between Israelis and Palestinians. You gave us strength, enthusiasm and hope.’
Established in 2007, PTC provides a rapid-reaction force of therapeutic workers who go out from their Gaza City base to support families, children and other vulnerable individuals traumatized by ongoing conflict and occupation.
BSST donated to their Friday of Joy initiative that takes therapeutic drama, games, painting and music onto the streets every Friday.
BSST has a longstanding relationship with the tiny, isolated and poverty stricken South Hebron Hills villages, whose residents’ entire lives focus on resisting the Israeli Defence Forces demolition of their homes. In summer 2015, BSST funded two children’s summer camps. Fatma, one of the local residents who organised the camps, later wrote to BSST in English:
‘…thank you from the bottom of my heart … Things here in susya have been very difficult – we live under constant threat of demolition. The funding allowed us to run valuable activities for the children of susya and umm al–kheir. We ran summer camp on 12 days in each village each having 47 children. The remaining funding was put to use to buy such things as paint and other materials and food.’
Tent of Nations is a Palestinian Christian project uniting young people of different cultures and religions. Its core is Daher’s Vineyard, an organic farm near Bethlehem, whose family owners maintain a constant personal presence to avoid its seizure by the Israeli state. Young people from across the world come to work on the farm and support its owners.
Tishreen, a Palestinian community group in Taybeh City, in the Triangle area of north central Israel, first came to BSST in 2014, when we funded their creative and high profile campaign against the gun violence from local organised crime.
This year, Tishreen has established several new projects: empowering women economically, developing youth leadership, mentoring young people in higher education and raising children’s social awareness. BSST supplied core funding, to support the group’s overall infrastructure.
Unitaf provides desperately needed high quality childcare for African refugees and other migrant workers whose communities are concentrated in the rundown and poverty-stricken south of Tel Aviv and now comprise at least 10% of the city’s population.
BSST supported a project to provide training for pre-school teachers so they can identify at-risk children as early as possible. The teachers will then be able to provide these children with the social skills to cope with the school setting, and their parents with information about specialist care services.
The Villages Group is a small Jewish/Palestinian group working in the South Hebron Hills and near Nablus. It is deeply involved in the Palestinian villagers’ struggles to educate their children, prevent their land being seized and stop their homes being destroyed.
The Villages Group is clear about the inherent disparity in power between itself and the villagers, and about its determination to build partnerships, working with rather than doing good to the villagers.
Group members support the villagers in identifying suitable projects where they can help themselves and then raises funds so that the projects can be implemented.
BSST has known the Villages Group many years; in the early days we gave it many grants, but now we mostly provide our Post Box service, transferring the funds the Group has raised through its own impressive fundraising efforts.
Yod Bet B’Heshvan is a Religious-Zionist organisation describing itself as ‘a watchdog against extremism, incitement and violence within Jewish Israeli society’. The group coordinates the Tag Meir coalition (‘Bright Tag’ – a play on Tag Machir, the racist ‘Price Tag’ attacks by religious Israeli Jews against Muslims and Christians in Israel).
Tag Meir unites over fifty religious and secular organisations in its extensive programme: visiting Price Tag victims, taking part in vigils and demonstrations, running traditional and social media campaigns. It aims to stop violence, ensure perpetrators are prosecuted and help create a genuine public commitment to interreligious tolerance. BSST provided funds for media, campaigning and publicity costs.