I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year, despite all.
It is this time of year that is also tagged as the month of giving. I, like you, am bombarded with funding requests during the end of every year. Some are agitated by this, I am not. Civil society, one that is not coerced by the powers that be, can only do its work with public support. There are scores of people doing good things around the world that deserve our support. If they do not ask, they cannot be funded, and thus will be handicapped in their work. I take every request in stride and do my part where I can.
In addition to being asked to support various efforts, I am also frequently asked, every year, to suggest things people can support. Many generous friends on this list have targeted their donations to campaigns (I actually support real people, but the requests arrive in your inbox as a campaign) which I have supported over the years and to them I am eternally grateful and humbled.
This year, I am sharing with you more than a single focal point for support because, in reality, I, like you, support many efforts in one way or another. Thus, I share with you here what I am currently supporting and ask that you consider these efforts for your generous end-of-year support. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list.
1. CULTURE: My firm’s current CSR campaign to help a professional Palestinian woman actress conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of a Theatrical Museum of Palestinian Oral History. We have already raised $850 toward this project and $6,350 more is needed to start the study. The details are here: http://aim.ps/aim-csr.html.
2. PALESTINIAN EDUCATION: Hashem Abushama is an amazing Palestinian student from a refugee camp near Hebron who is studying in the US and seeking a partial scholarship. Hashem is an impressive young man. In January, he will share the stage with my daughter Areen as they go on a speaking tour to the Jewish American communities in Boston and New York. He did not wait for funds to drop out of the sky to secure his education; he acted and setup a crowdfunding appeal. See: http://www.gofundme.com/supportmyeducation.
3. MENTAL HEALTH: The Palestinian Medical Education Initiative(PMEI) is a dynamic team of mental health professionals who are transfixed on establishing a proper mental health sector in Palestine. I serve on the Board of PMEI. Led by the amazing duo, Palestinian Dr. Samah Jabr and American Dr. Michael Morse, this effort is at a crucial turning point and is about to realize the fruits of years of planning. Your help is needed given this much needed sector is, regretfully, stigmatized in our society. PMEI will change that perception over time, no doubt. Donate here: http://pmedonline.org/.
4. JEWISH EDUCATION: Encounter is dedicated to strengthening the capacity of Jewish American leaders to be constructive agents of change in transforming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have the utmost respect for this professional team of Jewish educators and the outstanding work they do on the ground–actually at ground zero of the occupation. Learn more and donate here: http://www.encounterprograms.org/donate.
5. BUSINESS: I went on a speaking tour in Chicago last year that was organized by a retired American businessman, Ed Thompson. After the tour, Ed asked me to join him in establishing Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE). We co-founded this effort earlier this year on the simple premise that Positive Investment in Palestine breeds hope for a better future for Palestinians through tangible economic opportunity. Our U.S. nonprofit (soon to be a 501(c)(3)) organization encourages lasting economic partnerships between Americans and Palestinians. A high-powered board of professionals has been assembled and we are already deep into putting our plans into action. Soon the donate page will have the needed info to donate, but for now we need your support in finding American businesses and trade associations that we can reach out to regarding doing business in Palestine. Note: this effort is not about doing business with our military occupiers, but rather it is about direct relations between American business and Palestinian business. Find AVPE here: http://www.a4vpe.org.
6. PALESTINIAN POLICY VOICE: We are sick and tired of others speaking for us. Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network, is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law. I serve on Al-Shabaka’s board. Read and support our work here: http://www.al-shabaka.org/about/donate.
7. COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: Dalia Association is a community foundation that was established in 2007 by members of the Palestinian community, including individuals from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Diaspora. Dalia believes that Palestinians have a right to control our own development. Our mission is to mobilize and properly utilize resources necessary to empower a vibrant and accountable civil society. As a co-founder and board member, I invite you to join us in any way you can, materially or otherwise. Find Dalia here: http://www.dalia.ps (Note the site is undergoing a repair and will be up within 24 hours).
Two points I would like to make in closing:
- Some will look at this list and say, what a long list, how can Sam expect someone to support all of these efforts. I do not. I respect people’s ability to choose what suits them best, be it from this list or helping your next door neighbor. I am not marketing a product here; I am sharing with you my civic duty toward society and inviting you to join me.
- Secondly, you may be thinking, where’s Gaza in Sam’s list. Rest assured Gaza is there, embedded in each and every one of the items listed above.
Lastly, for those of you in Youngstown or who know Martha Katz, I ask that you direct your prayers for her well-being as she struggles to regain her health at St. Elizabeth Hospital.
I wish all a safe and prosperous new year.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on December 15, 2014, on ePalestine, a website featuring commentary by Sam Bahour. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Bahour.
Image Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk