Bisan Center: Foreign Aid and the Molding of the Palestinian Space
Bisan Center for Research and Development releases it’s new study "Foreign Aid and the Molding of the Palestinian Space” as part of a series on development in the occupied Palestinian territories. The studies included in this series aim at deconstructing the dominant development discourse and the programs resulting from it through analyzing the development discourses of Palestine’s main actors in the public and private sector and the civil society. The study focuses on the post-Oslo period, since Oslo was a “historical” moment that marked a change in the Palestinian national concepts and visions, leading the Palestinian society into a complex state of dependency that is different from previous periods. After Oslo a new annexationist element of power relations and dominance was established and institutionalized through political, financial and economical development intervention, delivering new tools to reformulate the society and its multiple structures.
The study uses the concepts of space and place as theoretical basis through which it explains the changes in the Palestinian society as products of international funders and donors’ development aid. “In this way, the new Palestinian space as it emerges, is produced by internal and local interactions that are intertwined with international relations that have formulated it, and determined its reproduction in this given form.”
The importance of this study lies in its focus on the impact which the donors’ discourses and visions of the “proposed” form of Palestinian society has on the concrete program implementation. The study seeks to do so through scrutinizing a set of programs implemented by key donors who were interviewed using open-end and in-depth interviews, in addition to analyzing a large part of their documents. This focus on the role of each donor allows us to have a closer look at their conception of development and their contribution to it through the programs they implement in Palestine. We are then able to see the similarities and intersections in the various conceptions and notions carried by the main donors working in Palestine, “the main pillar of development aid was supporting the peace process. Development aid increased proportionally with the acceleration of negotiations and in times when the peace process was halted, the aid decreased.”
This study addresses the role of donor organizations in Palestine, their financial activities as well as their role in reformulating the Palestinian space, through analyzing their development discourse and its implications for the Palestinian reality. In the first chapter it defines the concepts of space and place and the mechanisms of its formulation. The study then seeks to define the Palestinian space and the areas of intervention that led to its formulation in the Palestinian context, specifically the role of Western funding in this realm, without separating it from the colonial context of the Palestinian case. We have studied what we have called “the process of transformative intervention”, carried out by foreign funders in the new Palestinian space, by analyzing the development discourse of eight donor countries, that are among the largest 20 funding organization in the Palestinian Territories. We have also investigated the impact of their development aid on actual reality through looking at the mechanisms through which these organizations have been working on reformulating the Palestinian space on its institutional levels (the cultural, political, economic, and social levels, in addition to the geographic place), repositioning the Palestinians as a collectivity and as individuals within this manufactured Palestinian space.
The study also addressed the subject of alternate roads and the reformulation of the ‘allowed” Palestinian space prepared for the establishment of the future Palestinian State, and the culture that is to accompany it and which is to position the Palestinians within this new space on all its levels: the cultural, political, social, and economic; achieving this through the tools of curriculum, cultural and functional elites in the Palestinian society.