The recent events in the Palestinian Territories and the subsequent, ongoing Israeli response, as well as potential responses from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, or other non-state actors are a cause for concern. NEF’s continued presence and programs in the region will, however, remain unaffected.
The Near East Foundation’s mission of building more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, community organizing, and economic development has always been one of peace and cooperation. NEF is an apolitical, non-sectarian organization. While we do often work with local, regional, and national governments to further our mission and our goals to better serve our beneficiaries, this work never includes getting involved in the controversial issues of the day in those regions.
In the West Bank, our projects involve helping train and fund women entrepreneurs, support farmers through wastewater irrigation projects, and promote cross-border economic and agricultural cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis, while respecting the laws, customs, and culture of both parties.
Our cross-border cooperatives have resulted in dramatic increases in positive perceptions of the other side by our participants, as well as increases in incomes, livelihoods, living standards, and access to markets. With this in mind, it is critical that NEF continue the work we’ve been doing in the West Bank for nearly twenty years.
To highlight the progress NEF has made in cross-border cooperation, this week, NEF will continue it’s Olive Oil Without Borders project with a “Training of Trainers” workshop in Haifa. It is a testament to NEF’s innovative methods and willingness to cooperate that, even in the midst of recent events in the West Bank, NEF is still able to bring Palestinians to Haifa to meet, learn about, and train with their Israeli counterparts for a three-day workshop.