Ittijah, Al- (Direction)
ITTIJAH, AL- (Direction)
The Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations, an umbrella group of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations in Israel, based in Haifa. Founded in 1995, Ittijah fosters cooperation among Palestinian Israeli organizations that provide social support services, advocate for change, and promote the development of Palestinian civil society and cultural autonomy within Israel. These organizations are more important to Palestinian Israelis than to Jewish Israelis because of the government's discrimination against its Palestinian citizens and its lack of funding for the institutions that serve them. Ittijah focuses on three principal areas: advocacy (making the status of Palestinian Israelis known to the Palestinian and Israeli publics and to the Arab and international publics, nongovernmental organizations, and governments); "capacity building" (increasing the resources of its member organizations through staffing, technical help, education, and fund-raising); and networking (bringing together organizations with similar agendas and expertise locally, regionally, and internationally). Among its dozens of member organizations are groups focused on civil and human rights, women's advocacy, children's welfare, theater, history, scholarly research, library support, and religious charity. It maintains links with Palestinian nongovernmental organizations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon, as well as with foreign nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, including the United Nations. Its funding comes from voluntary contributions, mainly from foreign nonprofits and the European Union.
Ittijah also takes public stands against policies and acts of the Israeli government that injure Palestinian Israelis, as well as those directed against Palestinians in the occupied territories. The government has harassed Ittijah, as well as other Palestinian civil agencies and institutions, through legal, illegal, and extralegal means: it has proposed legislation forbidding Palestinian Israeli nongovernmental organizations from accepting funding from foreign governments; it has broken into offices and stolen files and computers; it has intimated to donors and potential donors that such organizations "support terrorism." Ittijah maintains a web site at www.ittijah.org.
SEE ALSO Gaza Strip;Palestinian Israelis;West Bank.