Baladna annual report 2014 2015 web

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About Baladna


Baladna—Association for Arab Youth is the largest independent youth organization working with Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel. We strive to provide youth with the training, resources and practical tools necessary to confront discrimination and marginalization of the Palestinian community within Israel. Since our founding in 2001, tens of thousands of youth have participated in leadership training, cultural education, and media programs. In conjunction with critical discussion concerning the history, grievances and culture of Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Diaspora, programming aims to strengthen understanding and application of the principles of democracy, gender equality, human rights, pluralism and tolerance.

Letter from the Chairperson We believe in youth - that’s the main reason why we are here today. We believe that they will bring about a new reality in our lives and our society. They are our hope for a better future and with them, we believe, we can change the world. Growing up in our reality is not an easy mission, and being surrounded by political and social challenges is not the ideal way to keep on developing and achieving our goals. Yet with our will and hard work we have managed to reach thousands of Palestinian youth this year with both our new and ongoing activities. One of these new activities is the Haifa Project. As one of historical Palestine’s most beautiful cities and as our base, it is part of our mandate to protect and develop this city according to the needs of its Palestinian residents. With the cooperation of our partners, we’ve established a dynamic group of Haifa youth who have identified common concerns and developed action plans to deal with them, which include street theatre and a movie. Meanwhile the success of our previous projects has led to us renewing them this past year, and as the projects continue to develop, they continue to attract new participants and results. Examples include our campaign against the killing of women within Palestinian society, where our campaign videos reached over 60,000 viewers, and provided women and youth with the tools to combat gender violence. We are also proud of Naqab Youth for Human Rights, which continues Baladna’s work with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised Palestinian citizens of Israel who face demolitions of their homes or even entire villages. Baladna is also proud of the “Together for Change” project which has continued for a second year, defying imposed borders and restrictions of free movement, 6

and allowing Palestinians from all regions, including the West Bank and Gaza, to come together and explore our shared identity and challenges. As ever, this is not the end but just the beginning of another year of work, achievements and growth. For this we would like to thank everyone who has and who continues to support us, from donors to our dedicated team of staff and volunteers, whose commitment and enthusiasm make our work possible.

Mariam Farah Chairperson of the Board


Every year, Baladna assesses the issues and struggles that Palestinian youth face. This Annual Activities Report covers Baladna’s accomplishments and programs during 2014-2015, and presents our projects and activities which have been taking place over the past year. This year’s projects are dedicated to focusing on some of the most pertinent issues that youth face such as identity, violence, gender, human rights and leadership.






Youth Leadership Program “ Hanan Sama’an, 16, Eilaboun

The leadership program helped me in building a solid personality and in determining my opinions and positions regarding different matters. I learned that social change is a result of personal change and that societies should learn from the past in order to change the future. In this program, we learned about our past and developed skills to build a prosperous future.”

The largest of Baladna’s projects, the youth leadership program began in 2001 and has been running ever since. University students are trained to be innovative and critical leaders for change, forming and leading youth groups which go on to identify and address prominent problems in their community. The project confronts the marginalisation of Palestinian youth and their communities by encouraging youth to take the initiative. Dealing with topics such identity, historical narrative, community leadership, and gender and human rights, the program provides Palestinian youth with a platform to address the specific issues they face which are ignored by mainstream institutions. This year 12 groups were formed around the country, and after a year of learning, field trips, and volunteer projects, the program culminated with the Public Achievement Festival, uniting all the groups to highlight their end of year community service projects, and celebrate their progress as individuals and as a group. 14

Public Achievement Projects Zemer: Zemer youth initiated a campaign to revitalise the local library as a public resource. This involved listing and organising its collection of books, and an electronic campaign targeting fellow youth, encouraging involvement with their local library.

Al-Shibli: The youth group provided workshops and special classes

for junior high school students which dealt with gender issues such as equal opportunities, discrimination, and gender violence. 100 students participated in the classes and workshops.

Akka: Workshops about gender were conducted in a local preparatory school. 80 school students participated in the workshops discussing gender rights, the situation in their community, and ways forward for the future.


Umm al-Fahem:100 local youth attended an evening of discus-

sion and talks about the opportunities and possibilities of volunteer work and extracurricular activities which could benefit their community as a whole.

Kafr Qara:

The youth group set up a field day in the town’s park, and hosted a collection of talks and activities bringing attention to the history, heritage and modern identity of Kafr Qara. There were over 50 participants in attendance.

Rahat: Rahat’s youth organised a lecture on the subject of sectarianism, and the negative and divisive effects it has on Palestinian society. It was attended by over 40 local youth and took place at the end of May.

Bir al-Maksur: An evening was held exploring the links between Palestinian identity and the Arabic language among Palestinian youth inside Israel, the extent and role of this interplay, and how it has evolved since the Nakba.



The Haifa group organised a series of workshops examining questions of identity for Palestinian youth inside Israel, and specifically of Palestinian identity in a mixed Arab-Jewish city such as Haifa.

Nazareth: The two Nazareth groups united together to create 2 vid-

eos presenting the problems of the civil service law, and its repercussions for Palestinian youth in Israel.

Eilaboun: The group hosted a study day that taught about influential Arab figures across different historical periods, and the role they played in shaping Arab and Palestinian consciousness today.

Laqiya: The Laqiya group focused on the issue of volunteerism, with

youth participants tackling and restoring public spaces which had fallen into disuse, and also cleaned and replanted their school garden. 17




Equip Palestinian youth living in Israel with the skills and experiences to become agents for positive social and political change in their communities


Increase civic engagement among youth in their communities through education and grassroots community service projects

3 Empower high school youth to embrace their Palestinian identity and to promote democratic culture and practice within their communities.


Together for Change (‘Mitharikeen’)

Through this program, I was able to learn about the idea of working together as one people. It gave me a lot of experience in planning and working with challenges, not only within the context of the project or for a specific period, but as new ideas and skills that will I utilize outside of the project.”

Mary Azzam, 24 Shefa ‘Amr

Together for Change (Mitharikeen) brings together youth from the ‘48 region, the West Bank and Gaza in order to facilitate connection, improve cohesion among Palestinians, and defy sectarianism due to geographic separation. This year, there were 60 participants from the three areas. After a successful media campaign in 2014 that reached more than 250,000 people through a video, posters, and film screenings, in January 2015 a national meeting was held in Amman. The meeting hosted 44 people from all over historic Palestine, and plans for the project as well as a timetable were set. 20

As part of the project, we had a travelling bus that promoted the project’s activities. The bus travelled around all three areas. Additionally, an evening in Nazareth discussed identity and stereotypes with an audience of 100 people through stand-up comedy and a silent theater performance; similar activities were held in Ramallah and Gaza. In Jericho and Gaza, study days were held where 180 participants learned about identity, identity politics, stereotypes, and methods of action to address fragmentation of Palestinian identity.

The project released a local campaign composed of multiple aspects. The main focus consists of addressing identity fragmentation within the Palestinian community by facilitating cooperation between youth in the West Bank, Gaza, and ’48. 3 awareness-raising workshops were held in Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem.


60 44

attendees from across Palestine at the first ever national meeting



participants from across Palestine

attendees at the national

meeting in Nazareth


Address Palestinian fragmentation through cooperation between youth in the West Bank, Gaza and ‘48.


Count to Ten Anti-Violence Campaign

By working with students and teachers in schools across the nation, Baladna hopes to reduce violence among youth in Palestinian communities. Political violence, social violence, violence in schools and against women, anger management, and conflict resolution are all covered. With the beginning of the school year, Baladna chose 4 leaders who led groups in 5 villages: Ein Mahel, Eilut, El-Maker, Laqiya, and Taybeh. The leaders worked with students in school years 7-9 and provided 10 meetings where they discussed types of violence, causes of violence, anger management, and conflict resolution.


“ Marwa Abu Julia, 25, Zemer

The program was really great and important; it dealt with students from different ages and perspectives. It raised the potential awareness of students and their eagerness to deal with issues related to violence against women or what is so-called “Honor killings.” Programs like this are very important for schools to have, and it should continue.”

There were 3 public achievement projects presented in El-Maker, Eilut, and Ein Mahel. In El-Maker, a play about domestic violence had an audience of 220 people; in Eilut a movie was played to raise awareness, with 180 attendees; and in Ein Mahel there was a film about violence in schools in addition to awareness-building workshops, attended by 330 people.


Additionally, throughout the year, workshops about countering violence were provided to the students and teachers. There were 5 days that focused on raising awareness in the 5 schools involved in the project, attended by 1,200 students total. 3 workshops were additionally provided in Ein Mahel, Taybeh, and El-Maker to 100 staff members where they learned about activities they could do with their students to teach them about the issue.

Decrease violence in the Palestinian community by intervening in schools and providing training and support about violence, conflict resolution and anger management.


Campaign against so-called ‘honor’ killings and violence against women

I saw myself as a partner in crime by my silence and lack of attempts to stop the phenomenon of killing women; however, this program gave me the opportunity to contribute to social change and declare the power and importance of women in our societies. Women are an inherent part of our societies and should not be neglected due to their less power and authority. They play important roles with great responsibility in the upbringing of generations. This was a high-quality experience from which I learned a lot.”

Siwar Aqel, 16 Arara

Alongside Kayan Feminist Organization and with the European Union’s support, the goal of this campaign is to raise awareness about violence against women and the killing of women in Palestinian society, and educate youth about eradicating this crime from their communities. 6 youth groups with 70 total participants were formed in Hura, Jisr al-Zarqa, Nazareth, Arara, Jaffa, and Umm al-Fahem, holding 20 weekly meetings where they discussed identity, human rights, gender, leadership, women’s rights, violence against women and the phenomenon of killing women. A webpage titled “Challenging the ‘Honor’ Killing of Men,” was launched trained youth leaders



groups with

6 70 youth



videos produced reaching 60,000 viewers


as part of a campaign that draws attention to and challenges the issue of violence against women among the Palestinian community in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The campaign is centered around the idea of killing men for‘ honor’ in order to highlight the gendered nature of this violence, and the double standards which are applied to men and women in Palestinian society. 7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media produced 5 videos for the campaign which received over 50,000 views on Facebook in less than a week.

To uphold the human rights of women as articulated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and specifically to offer protection against so-called ‘honor’ killings and related violence.


stickers distributed Over

20,000 visitors to campaign’s interactive mini-site

6500 likes for project facebook page

90,000 webpage interactions



Cultural Forum


The Cultural Forum is run by volunteer university students across the country and brings together youth, professionals and academics to bring attention to pertinent issues within the Palestinian community through various methods. From universities in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, volunteers ran the cultural forum through events like seminars, lectures, tours and discussions.

13 seminars were held which hosted 450 total participants. Topics included: pinkwashing, the history and role of Arab student movements in the country, Labor Day in the Palestinian context, the civil service policy and Palestinians in Israel, the consequences of the assault on Gaza, and many more issues. 2 field trips were conducted; the first went to Jericho and the second to Caesarea, Jisr al-Zarka and Tantoura. Around 300 people participated in these tours.



The topics and issues raised by the Forum were generally never talked about in universities. The Forum contributed to creating an educational environment of awareness for different political, social and cultural issues, while also fostering debate and dialogue that enriched students’ understanding of their identity. The Forum broke taboos concerning social issues that are not generally discussed by confronting them and encouraging healthy discussions.�



Khalil Gharra, 23, Jerusalem

Compensate for a lack of programming for Palestinian students at Israeli universities Provide a forum in which Palestinian university students can openly discuss issues relevant to them and their communities.

university forums



field trips with around


total participants

300 total attendees


Campaign Against Civil Service In partnership with the Arab Cultural Association, our campaign against recruitment into the military continued with the goal of decreasing the enlistment of Palestinian youth by means of education and community organizing. To accomplish this goal, 10 scholarships were given to 10 youth leaders. For 4 days, the volunteers were trained in group facilitation and the meaning of civil service and how it is connected to other Israeli policies that intend to divide the Palestinian community. The scholarship recipients then led workshops about identity and civil service to a total of 2,700 youth in Haifa, Tamra, Arara, Kafar Manda, Nazareth and Judaida-Al Maker and many other localities.



1. Decrease enlistment of Palestinian youth in Israeli civil service through education and community organising. 2. Build consensus rejecting compulsory service, while promoting volunteerism

“ Anan Amarah, 21, Zalafa

This was a great project with clear and constructive goals. Through this program my knowledge about recruitment and militarization was enriched intensely. This program increased my ability to argue and provide evidence in heated debates about the issue. � 31

Oudna A cooperative project between Baladna, ADRID, Zochrot and the Arab Association for Human Rights, Oudna (“Our Return”) supports youth to imagine the concept of returning to their ancestral towns and villages which were destroyed during the Nakba.

“ 32

Majd Shehadeh, 24, Kaboul

This is a great project with a wonderful vision to raise awareness and understanding about many issues from a grassroots level… I learned a lot of new things. The groups were great and I enjoyed interacting with them. Many people felt an increased sense of national identity after participating in Oudna.”


In late 2014, 9 leaders were selected, each from different displaced villages. A director was also selected to create a documentary following the project. Leaders created groups of 15-20 youth from each of the displaced villages after being trained with the skills and tools needed to lead their groups to visualize, plan and implement projects that conceptualize return. This year the project focused on the displaced villages of Al Birwah, Al Mjedel, Al Ghabisiyeh, Al Majdal Asqalan, Iqrith, Me’ar, and Saffuriyeh. Participants visited Tiberias and Ma’loul where they observed historical displaced villages and towns, before attending a training day in Nazareth

Train internally displaced youth from the 3rd and 4th generation of the Nakba to conceptualise, visualise and implement return to their ancestral villages.


The Haifa Project “ Hoda Soloh, 18, Haifa


This program deals with all the issues and concerns of the Arab population in Haifa. We are a group of youth that work to revive the Arab areas and places in Haifa. This is the first and only project for Arab youth in Haifa, and we are putting our best efforts into everything we do.�


The Haifa Project is a collaboration between three Haifa-based organizations, Baladna, Kayan Feminist Organization, and the Social Development Committee of Haifa. With the shared goal of revitalising the Palestinian community of Haifa and bringing together different key groups, each partner brings its expertise to bear in 3 separate sectors: youth, women, and local neighbourhood councils. Each sector receives the necessary training and skills to engage with community organising and civic work, in order to better represent the needs of the Palestinian community and its constituent parts, and push for the specific developments needed. The project coordinates the efforts of each sector’s participants in order to present a unified, consensus voice for the Palestinian community and to maximise its impact. As part of the project, Baladna’s established youth groups in Haifa have significantly increased confidence, self-esteem, and critical thinking among the youth participants, and are now more empowered and equipped with stronger abilities to fight for and realise their rights. This year’s group consisted of 15 participants who had weekly meetings. A street theater performance about the issues that Palestinians in Haifa face was designed alongside an introductory video about the goals of the group and its areas of work.

1. Revitalise and support Arab communities in Haifa 2. Strengthen Palestinian identity and community engagement of Haifa youth



In my point of view, the program was really important and impressive since its main objective is to connect the Palestinian people together, build new relationships and break stereotypes through lectures and workshops. It was really hard and challenging in the beginning and we faced many obstacles, yet we were able to create a great work environment that was based on mutual understanding and collaboration. The leaders were technically and tactically proficient and created exciting tasks for all of us.”

Hala Marshoud, 23, Haifa

In partnership with BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Baladna’s goal in this project is to contribute to the empowerment of Palestinian young people on both sides of the Green Line to influence public opinion and to increase the understanding of Palestinian youth in International humanitarian law, international human rights law, and policies of forced population transfer and Palestinian fragmentation. The project is unique because it has the added of value of inclusion of youth from both the West Bank and Israel. By doing so, it attempts to thwart both the geo-political fragmentation and the marginalization of youth and youth voices; Palestinian youth from the West Bank and Israel have a space in which to interact. This interaction has been severely limited by the Separation Wall and laws prohibiting Palestinians entering Israel and citizens of Israel entering major Palestinian cities.


Through training sessions 30 Palestinian youth gained the skills to encourage Palestinian cohesion, youth empowerment, and additional knowledge. A weekend of training was conducted to teach the chosen youth the techniques and skills they would need. Lessons confronted forced displacement as a crime and its relation to international colonization, forced displacement and its effects, and the Palestinian refugees in international law. They were also trained about how to write articles, debate, and photography, in addition to going on a photography tour. 6 articles were published that deal with refugee and displacement issues. Additionally, the program featured a media campaign, photo exhibition, and discussion panels.



To empower Palestinian youth on both sides of the Green line to influence public opinion through training and skill building.



During 2014-2015, the Naqab Youth for Human Rights project supported a new generation of Palestinian Bedouin youth in the Naqab in learning about human rights and democracy, documenting abuses of rights, film and photography skills, new and traditional media, and advocacy capacity. The participants formed youth groups in the villages of Im Bateen, Wadi al-Na’im, Rahat and Ajwan.


New and social media were then used to provide documentation of human rights abuses in the Naqab. In December, the project reached its completion when photos taken by the youth participants were publicly displayed at an exhibition that took place in Nazareth. The exhibition captured life through the eyes of the youth and the human rights violations that they viewed on a daily basis. 1. Educate and train youth in the unrecognised villages in the Naqab in identifying and documenting human rights violations 2.Provide youth with a platform to share their work and advocate for their rights

This project was the first of its kind in the Naqab, and Baladna’s first with the goal to document our unrecognized villages. I personally had a good experience with Baladna’s staff and students. The project lasted a whole year and wonderfully highlighted the importance of the issue. In the end, our efforts were successful and we documented the unrecognized villages due to our awareness, work and perseverance. I hope that this project will continue each year in the Naqab because we need such projects.”

Sabreen Abu Kaf, 21, Om Bateen









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