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Palestine’s NGOs “a byword for corruption”

May 27, 2011

Nonprofits in the Palestinian territories are a cesspool of corruption.  The author of the article who made this argument in The Guardian says he’s really just calling for reform though, and complained that Elder of Ziyon used the article as “Palestinians are bad” evidence.

Count us in with Elder of Ziyon.  The non-governmental organizations (a combination of questionable Islamic charities and do-gooder Western aid outfits) are extremely problematic.  Read all about it:

…Palestine’s NGO sector…has become a byword for corruption, incompetence and meaningless job creation. Thousands of NGOs have sprung up, promoting everything from family planning to liberal arts education, bloating the aid industry without delivering long-term benefits.

Naseef Mu’allem, director-general of the Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy, revealed that “JICA – the Japanese government aid mission – invested $5m last year, but practically what they spent is $600,000. The rest is given as salaries, accommodation, hotels, retreatment and transportation for the foreign employees here but not for the Palestinians”. Without donors thoroughly checking on their investments, this kind of private profiteering has become normal.

Palestinian perceptions of foreign NGOs are revealing. Bir Zeit University’s 2008 survey found just 35% of the West Bank population feel they contribute to the development of Palestinian society; 78% said they played some role in reducing human suffering and 55% felt they contribute to reinforcing the Israeli occupation.

According to [Joseph] DeVoir, the combination of these results seems to reveal a perception that NGOs “do not achieve political goals; they facilitate occupation by making it bearable”. Certainly NGOs and international agencies have financial motives for sustaining the occupation, without which they could not obtain the funding to combat its effects.

The foreign money flooding into NGOs has entrenched class divisions in Palestinian society. Employment opportunities within them are typically limited to the educated elite class, narrowed further by routine nepotism. In Ramallah, the difference is most apparent with glitzy nightclubs on the doorsteps of refugee camps – the preserve of foreigners and rich Palestinians who live too comfortably to identify with the struggle for independence. Their money has already immunised them against the worst effects of occupation, working in jobs that allow them to cross borders and checkpoints, lessening their incentive to fight the status quo…

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