In 2017 and 2018 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 £1,000 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.
To see projects that we have supported in previous years, click here.
This is a volunteer-based, Bedouin women’s organization in the extremely deprived Negev township of Rahat. It campaigns for women’s rights, providing legal help, mental health support, Hebrew and Arabic lessons, crafts classes, basic literacy and creative writing courses. BSST ran a small Global Giving Appeal for Amerat’s project encouraging Bedouin women to vote in elections. The shortfall in project funding was subsequently made good by the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace.
Arous Elbahar (Bride of the Sea) is a Jaffa-based Palestinian women’s organisation which aims to improve women’s status and employability. BSST continued its support for a project providing Palestinian teenage girls from the poorer parts of Jaffa with training in financial management.
‘… the introduction of financial literacy and basic financial management has a huge impact on the behavior of students, who are often exposed to poor management practices at home and in school.’ — Director, Arous Elbahar
This year, new elements have been introduced: entrepreneurship shows students how to start their own businesses, while teaching the schools’ teachers to deliver the financial training enables Arous Elbahar to cascade its expertise to far more schools and their pupils.
For the last four years BSST has funded three South Tel Aviv groups dedicated to supporting Sudanese and Eritrean women asylum seekers and their families:
Arteam (Levinski) Garden Library, with its outdoor community centre, multilingual library and after-school and summer holiday activities, a place for learning and reflection for disturbed and disaffected older child asylum seekers.
Microfy, a training centre equipping women asylum seekers and migrant workers, many of whom provide their families’ sole income, for sustainable employment.
Unitaf, which, unlike the dangerous ‘cowboy’ operations rife in South Tel Aviv, provides safe and high-quality nursery care for baby and toddler asylum seekers, as well as training some mothers to become professional carers.
Thanks to Network for Social Change, BSST secured £15k for the groups’ first collaborative project: building close links between Microfy which trained some of the mothers whose toddlers are looked after by Unitaf, and with Arteam, where the same mothers are being given family support to rebuild relationships with older children who have ‘gone off the rails’ after the trauma of escaping their own war-torn country, and then finding they are not welcome in Israel.
CJNV, a US-based Jewish peaceful civil disobedience group which opposes the Occupation, became a BSST Post Box project. The funds that were transferred provided a scholarship for a participant in the Centre’s 2017 summer camp in Israel/Palestine.
Citizens Build A Community runs services for deprived young people in the impoverished Israeli city of Lod, where municipal provision has been closed down. One of CBC’s projects is ‘Succeeding in Higher Education Together Programme’, which tackles educational under-performance among young Palestinians.
This programme helps thirty Palestinian high school leavers get into higher education, ensures fifty existing university students complete their courses (and buck the national 30% Palestinian dropout rate) and involves all these students in community work among school pupils. BSST repeated its support for this impressive project.
De-Coloniser is a research and educational project organizing talks and tours and producing written materials about the history of the Israeli state. These include a book about the Nakhba (‘Catastrophe’ – the Palestinian description of the foundation of Israel), and a printed ‘Colonial Destruction Map’ showing those pre-1948 villages which no longer exist. BSST provided core funding and accepted De-Coloniser as a recipient of its post box service.
Domari Society serves a three thousand strong community living in the Old City and other parts of Arab East Jerusalem. Originally from India, but now a centuries-old feature of Jerusalem, the Domari are a very traditional group, largely invisible to the outside world.
‘… an unrecognized minority in Israel … an extremely poor and disdained minority within the Arab population … the most marginalized, impoverished and discriminated (against) community in Jerusalem.’ — Director, Domari Society
The Domari Society runs an after-school tutoring programme for Domari children, who, as isolated ‘outsiders’ in their Arab schools, are often disaffected and underperforming. It also provides vocational training – sewing, needlework, catering and hairdressing – and literacy courses for adult women. Working with a community far below the radar, the Society struggles to compete for funding with better known causes. BSST paid for two qualified teachers to run the after-school teaching, alongside Palestinian student volunteers from the Hebrew University.
Fragments Theatre is a tiny Jenin-based arts project, inspired by Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Palestinian/Israeli co-founder of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre, who was assassinated in 2011. BSST helped fund Fragments’ new stand-up comedy training project, which it runs in most of the West Bank refugee camps plus several cities. A Fragments comedy workshop can be seen below – though sadly without a translation of the jokes.
‘Thanks to the generous support by the BSST we were able to offer a very small monthly honorarium to our director. Although far from a living wage, this allowed our director to cover some travel expenses and a portion of her monthly phone bill. This was a huge help … our director was able to engage dozens of young artists in Jenin who then were able to engage hundreds of youth and other residents.’ — Report following first BSST Grant
The Freedom Theatre in Jenin is an internationally-famous community-based cultural centre serving the Jenin Refugee Camp and offering acting, filmmaking, creative writing, psychodrama and photography. It is notable for involving girls and women as well as boys and men and has run several successful international tours.
FADE is a community group based in Gaza’s Al Nuseirat refugee camp. BSST funded its summer project supporting ninety traumatised children who learned leadership and peacebuilding skills, and, just as important, had fun: sport, day trips and other activities, and ‘an entertaining atmosphere to help them in forgetting the war in the mid-term holiday’.
After the 2014 conflict … there (have) been changes in children’s behaviour including bedwetting, unusual crying/screaming and displays of aggressive behaviour, particularly in boys … children had engaged in acts of violence, including bullying, violence towards siblings and vandalism … (From carers there has also been) increased aggression (including physical and verbal abuse) towards children.
In September 2014, UNICEF estimated the conflict had left 373,000 Palestinian children in need of direct psychosocial support, (having been) affected by … injury, killing or injury of a relative or other people, enduring airstrikes, shelling, and displacement. — UNICEF REPORT cited in FADE application
Grassroots Jerusalem unites eighty Jerusalem-based Palestinian community groups in resisting the effects of the Occupation. It runs a legal clinic dealing with residency, human rights, housing and child arrests, and campaigns for jobs, educational opportunities, improved health services, and fair planning and housing policies for Palestinian Jerusalemites.
Grassroots Jerusalem also provides ‘alternative tourism’ through its own tours and via local visitor centres. It has published the first political tourist guide to Jerusalem, ‘Wujood, The Grassroots Guide to Jerusalem’, and an online ‘Real Map of Jerusalem’, which preserves original Palestinian street names, landmarks and borders.
HEBRON INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE NETWORK (HIRN) is a volunteer group running projects in this West Bank city and nearby countryside, where the Israeli Occupation is experienced most harshly. Its projects include kindergartens, improvements to girls’ schools, school bus repairs, agricultural schemes, housebuilding and facilities for foreign visitors.
HIRN has created an impressive overseas support network. At the end of the year, its British Friends of HIRN took on UK coordination for HIRN, and partnered with Amos Trust, to set up a new funds transfer facility to replace BSST’s post box service for HIRN. BSST values its relationship with HIRN immensely and is grateful to Friends of HIRN and Amos Trust for the services they now provide.
‘After planning and thinking for more than three years, we now have a bee farm in Umm al-Khair. I would like to thank all the friends who have helped in this from all over the world … This farm will help families in the village, and some young people will work and care for the bees, and we hope that this project will continue and develop in the future. — Email from one of the new beekeepers
HILA helps deprived families across Israel enforce their children’s education rights. Service take-up can vary greatly between communities. Of Palestinian parents, HILA said:
Although we have seen an increase (in Arab parents’ contacts) … the numbers are still disproportionally low. It is often necessary to connect on a personal level with minority groups.
BSST paid for training courses helping Arab parents to set up parent committees and improve education in their local schools. This followed our support last year for a portfolio of targeted services (Palestinian-staffed outreach, advertising on Arabic websites, translating HILA’s website and Facebook pages into Arabic, and producing Arabic leaflets).
Huda’s Kindergarten in Khashem el-Daraj, an isolated south Hebron Bedouin village, was once again supported by BSST’s contribution to staff salary costs. Forty children now attend – from the local village, and from the surrounding hills – ensuring that when they start primary school they do not struggle to keep up.
Members of Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, who have also supported the project for many years, reflected on the peaceful and secure environment it provides:
‘When we arrived, the children ran over to us, competing over handshakes, curious to look at the book we brought about the olive harvest. There is no longer suspicion or crying that occurred frequently during the early years of our visit.’
ISTV is a web-based media organisation reporting human rights stories largely ignored by Israel’s mainstream media. It reaches around 100,000 viewers monthly, and, during the 2014 Gaza war, attracted 500,000 individuals on Facebook.
As one of Israel’s most challenging groups, ISTV has come under serious attack: a major hacking assault on its website; loss of its premises; unlawful government threats to stop reimbursing its community broadcasting expenses, and cancelling its right to give internships to young people excused army service. BSST has a longstanding relationship with ISTV and was pleased, once again, to provide the group with core funding.
KAFA was established more than a decade ago to support local people in Israel’s largest Bedouin city. Rahat is a place of extreme poverty, massive unemployment, skyrocketing crime – and little hope. It is the city where the Israeli government aims to transfer the residents of the Negev’s ‘unrecognised’ towns and villages, so as to use their land for Jewish developments.
BSST supported Kafa’s year-long ‘Young Bedouin Leadership Project’, which trains young adults in community development, including each participant setting up her/his own social initiative.
Some key Kafa achievements:
- Running an enormous volunteer project to whitewash all anti-Arab graffiti on public spaces across the Northern Negev
- Preventing a city-wide municipal water closure
- Launching a successful High Court action against the local council’s gender-discrimination in refusing to allow women to purchase property
- Forcing the Postal Bank to expand its service to Bedouin clients in the Rahat region
Al Karmel, based in Al-Nusirat refugee camp, was the first Gaza-based therapeutic group to seek BSST’s help to tackle mental health damage caused by the bombing of Gaza in 2014.
‘Life has completely stopped, slow death is chasing everyone, especially children, as the summer vacation approaches … We hope (you will) help us implement an entertaining summer camp to reduce these great psychological pressures on children’ — Director, Al Karmel
This latest BSST grant enabled Al Karmel to run their summer camp – art, drama, music, sport and day trips – for a hundred of the most traumatised seven- to fourteen-year-olds, many of whom have been homeless ever since the bombing. The project also relieved the economic burden on families over the long summer break and provided a small boost to local traders supplying transport and hot meals.
LGG was founded in 2014 by young Palestinian lawyers to bring ‘professionalism, integrity and transparency’ to Palestinian local government. It is the first Palestinian legal organisation to confront the clan-basis of many Arab local councils: corruption, nepotism in filling public posts, unjustified salaries, maladministration and abuse of power.
LGG already has a complaints hotline and takes legal cases. It is now greatly expanding its Facebook presence, launching a website, and running an education programme promoting democratic values and practice, which aims to reach a thousand Palestinian secondary school students in its first year. BSST was pleased, once again, to provide LGG with core funding.
Living Archive is a community-generated project based in the South Hebron Hills. In the words of its organisers, who all live in the area:
‘Our project is about 12 villages in South Hebron Hills … Our aims are to put these villages on a map and show them to the world because when people know the story it can help save them. We (are) collecting photos, making films, audios, interviews, reports and stories. Then we put all these in our website which is in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
International presence and awareness help villages like Susiya and Umm al-Khair, but there are many villages less known … who have same problems maybe even more serious because no one knows about them … (which makes) it easier for the Israeli army and its associated civil authority to destroy the villages.’
Machsom Watch is an Israeli women’s organisation that opposes the Occupation and campaigns for Palestinian rights. This year it initiated the Green Line March, two days of human rights protest and educational activity, calling for the end of 50 years of Occupation. BSST contributed to the costs of organising these events.
‘Jews and Arabs, young and old, women and men participated. It was very moving to see young people who do not know the Green Line, as it has been intentionally erased from maps and schoolbooks … Machsom Watch members led the participants and marked the path in green, to remind everybody of the intentionally forgotten and erased border (the ’49 armistice demarcation line) which existed here between Israel and Jordan up to the Six-Day War.’ — Machsom Watch Report
Min el Bahar (Sea Holidays for Palestinian Children) is a long running project challenging the Occupation. Israeli checkpoints prevent West Bank Palestinian families reaching the Mediterranean under their own steam, though it is only a few miles away. So, each summer, by a mammoth feat of joint Jewish/Palestinian organisation, Min el Bahar ensures 1,500 Palestinian children and mothers enjoy a day at the sea.
The four Tel Aviv grandmothers who founded Min el Bahar, along with Palestinian organisers across the West Bank, recruit participants, arrange transport, entertainment and meals for thirty day-trips to the coast, and, crucially, negotiate with the IDF so everyone is able to get through the checkpoints.
Through the generosity of members of The Funding Network, we have been able to guarantee support to Min El Bahar for the last three years.
‘Thank you very much for your generous Grant. We feel privileged to have partners like you along with us. Let’s hope that this year will be a year of peace and joy. And the black clouds covering the sky would be scattered.’ — Min El Bahar report
NCF brings together Palestinian and Jewish residents of the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region, campaigning for equality, tolerance and coexistence.
NCF is the only Arab-Jewish organisation focusing on problems confronting the Negev, in particular, the ‘failure of the State of Israel to respect, protect and fulfil its human rights obligations, without discrimination, towards the Arab-Bedouin citizens in the Negev’.
New Profile was established in 1998 as a ‘non-hierarchical feminist movement promoting peace, non-violence and a just and democratic society’. It works to counter militarism within Israel, a culture it describes as:
‘seeing the military as sacred, an ideology which glorifies military values and the war ethos, irrespective of actual security … the military’s values dominate … in education, entertainment, urban space, social services, family life etc. … This makes society more violent, sexist and racist, weakening its civil society and democratic values … it blocks the path to peace and to ending the Occupation, and perpetuates human rights violations in Israel and Palestine.’
New Profile provides counselling to those considering refusing conscription, and education, information, legal and other support services. BSST donated core funding.
Al Nour is a well-established group based in Deir El Balah, Gaza, providing many health, social and other humanitarian services, including psychosocial support. This last includes a summer camp, for a hundred children aged eight to twelve years, using art, writing, theatre, sport and day trips. They also provide individual psychotherapy for those most disturbed, plus training to help parents identify and cope with their children’s problems. Around two hundred mothers have participated in parent training sessions and day trips. Al Nour reports that the summer camp has been very popular; families repeatedly ask for it to be extended.
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 traumatised by ongoing conflict and occupation.
Once again, BSST donated to PTC’s ‘Friday of Joy’ initiative, taking therapeutic drama, games, painting and music onto the streets every Friday, and helping to improve the relationship between children and their relatives through engaging them in activities together.
‘… there has been a fascinating development in the Friday of Joy project. A children’s play group in Syria came across (our) film online and, through Facebook, contacted our Gaza coordinator. (The FoJ) team are now sharing ideas with this Syrian group … their good practice is being introduced in a region badly needing such skills.’ — PTC report
RWA is a based in Susya, one of the South Hebron Hills villages where life is dominated by resistance to IDF home demolition The RWA helps women in the villages acquire some financial independence – it supports handicrafts, and agricultural projects like poultry and beekeeping – plus it runs children’s activities
During the last decade, BSST-funded projects in the South Hebron villages have included a kindergarten; a transport service for older school children; a toilet; and a wind and solar powered electricity scheme for the residents’ tents. For many years, requests to BSST have come via supportive Palestinian and Jewish outsiders but now the RWA approaches us directly to fund its annual summer camps, which ensure children in this remote desert area have some fun during the long summer break. Fatma, the main camp organizer, wrote to BSST describing the value of the camps:
‘These camps will also include the women of the villages in some activities about gender issues and bonding games with the children. This project will be beneficial, not only for the kids of this region who lacks playgrounds and safe playing spaces, but also for the women who will learn about social issues and women’s right in a safe environment where they can discuss and exchange freely, away from their routine. This type of project also aims to provide a relief to the participants for the constant pressure and persecution experienced because of the occupation.’
Sadaka Reut (Arab-Jewish Partnership) brings together Palestinian and Jewish young people in peacebuilding work. It emphasises marginalised communities – Bedouin Palestinians, Ethiopian, Russian and Mizrachi Jews – and universities with little Jewish/Palestinian student interaction. While campus Palestinian-Jewish projects usually prioritise learning about the other’s culture, Sadaka Reut confronts the much tougher task of focusing on the conflict and existing unequal power relations. Many participants go on to be activists and leaders in Israel’s campaigning NGO sector.
St John’s Eye Hospital is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, treating patients regardless of ethnicity, religion or ability to pay.
Sanad Youth Association is a community group based in Jatt, a town in Israel’s deprived Triangle Region. It builds local capacity in life skills, encouraging gender equality, combating racism and violence and encouraging democratic involvement. It trains university students to act as mentors to larger groups of school students in developing community projects. BSST contributed core funding.
Sindyanna Of Galilee is a women-led Palestinian organization working in northern Israel and the Occupied Territories. It produces award-winning fair trade organic oil, za’atar, spice mixes, carob syrup, honey, olive oil soaps and traditional baskets.
Standing Together is a new grassroots movement in Israel formed in 2015. It unites Jews and Arabs, locally and nationally, around campaigns for peace, equality and social justice.
‘We recognize the interconnectedness between the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories, the growing social and economic disparities within Israeli society, and the attacks by the government on democratic freedoms and on the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Whenever we launch a campaign, we aim for a broad coalition … when we organized Israeli-Palestinian peace marches in the occupied territories; when we mobilized thousands of Jews and Arabs against house demolitions of Arab-Bedouin villagers in the south of Israel; when we led a campaign against the deportation of African asylum seekers; and when we succeed in raising national support for the social struggles of elderly citizens and people with disabilities.’
Standing Together describes the challenges of campaigning:
‘It’s a serious daily challenge … where we hold our meetings, where we put our resources to start up a new circle (local group), what language we use … which struggles to participate in – because there is no shortage of struggles that are important to Arabs in Israel.’
Tent of Nations is a Palestinian Christian project uniting young volunteers of different countries, cultures and religions. Core is Daher’s Vineyard, an organic farm near Bethlehem, where the 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.
For 40 years, TFE has brought theatre to Gaza, staging thousands of professional performances in schools, community centres and public places and training Gaza’s future artists. Since 2009, it has worked with the British based Az Theatre in a ten-year programme, Gaza Drama Long Term, about the intergenerational impact of violence. The latest part of the project is a dramatization of War and Peace, which has included Skype exchanges about the project between health and education professionals in Gaza and in London.
Gaza Drama Long Term is the ultimate ‘shoestring’ operation, producing high quality theatre for next to no funds. BSST was very happy to support this latest stage in its work.
Tishreen, an impressive Palestinian community group in Taybeh City, in the Triangle region of Israel, first approached BSST in 2014, when we funded their creative campaign against the gun violence from local organised crime. Tishreen now runs many projects: economic empowerment for women, youth leadership, mentoring higher education students and raising children’s social awareness. Recently Tishreen acquired a new arts space, which opened with a high-profile exhibition, Ehna Hein, (We are Here), bringing together visual artists from around the Triangle region. BSST gave Tishreen core funding to employ a part time resources manager.
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. BSST has supported the Villages Group for some fifteen years.
WOFPP is a tiny grassroots feminist group based in Tel Aviv, and ‘the only organization supporting Palestinian women political prisoners’. It provides support and advocacy services and reports on the women’s trials.
‘conditions for so-called security prisoners are appalling and include: poor medical services, sanitary conditions, food quality; no accessibility to higher education, overcrowded cells, punitive and often abusive treatment by Israeli prison authorities, withholding of family visits and punishment by isolation. WOFPP monitors and protests violations of human rights such as the refusal of the right to consult a lawyer, of mothers’ rights to keep with them in prison infants under two years old, of family visits.’
BSST helped pay the fees and transport costs of WOFPP’s only paid worker, its part time lawyer who visits prisons twice a week, liaising between prisoners, their families and the prison authorities.
Yod Bet B’Heshvan was established by Religious-Zionist leaders ‘to fight religious extremism, violence and incitement towards minorities in Israeli society and promote the Jewish values of tolerance, pluralism and respect for the other’. Its flagship project is Tag Meir (meaning ‘Bright Tag’ – a play on ‘Tag Machir’, the racist ‘Price Tag’ attacks by religious Israeli Jews against Muslims and Christians).
Tag Meir is an alliance of fifty-one organisations across the political and religious spectrum united against Jewish racism. They visit victims of Price Tag and other hate crimes, lobby the Israeli government to act against Price Tag attacks and work to build tolerance towards minorities. This year they are expanding their media work to reach ultra-orthodox publications and the English language press in Israel and abroad and are launching their ‘long overdue’ Arabic Facebook page.