Alternative Information Centre’s new strategy in Palestine and Israel AICP Final Strategic Paper

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) was established in the 1980s to provide deep insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to promote the joint struggle to end the occupation and enable the Palestinian people to attain their freedom, independence and national rights. On a local and global level the AIC engaged in the dissemination of information and analyses, political advocacy, grassroots activism and the organization of social and cultural activities.

In this context, the AIC attained numerous achievements despite the structural challenges and obstacles that confronted it. The AIC was the only institution that included both Palestinians and progressive Jews while its singular programs focused on the joint struggle to build a democratic society free of occupation, racism and exploitation. In order to address and overcome the socio-political challenges facing the organization and in order to keep pace with developments and changes, members of the AIC Board of Directors evaluated and learned from this accumulated experience and then took the strategic decision in early 2019 to renew and re-register the organization with the Palestinian Authority under the name Alternative Information Center – Palestine. The General Assembly was restructured to include a wide variety of persons with diverse professional, social, cultural and legal competencies who are interested in the work of this organization. A new Board of Directors was also elected to lead the work of AICP in this next phase. In addition, several new personnel have joined the veteran staff and together they will implement the reinvigorated vision and programs of AICP.

We extend our gratitude to all the friends, partners and funders who have trusted the AIC and accompanied it throughout the years, and welcome them to embrace and support this new experience so that AICP can fulfill its unique mission.

Context analysis

Despite the international community’s massive political and economic investment in the Oslo process, its rosy promises failed to materialize. Israel’s colonial occupation has only deepened over the past two decades – yet more settlements and land confiscation, a siege and repeated military attacks on the Gaza Strip as well as economic pressures on the Palestinian people. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared in June 2019 that the West Bank is Israel’s homeland, which it will continue to build and develop, that no settlements will be uprooted in any political agreement, the Israeli army will continue to rule over the entire area and that he is working on attaining international ratification for these principles.

In this context we can understand President Trump’s so called “deal of the century”, which also aims to erase the Palestinian question from the international agenda by reframing the problem not as Israel’s colonial occupation, but as Iran and sectarianism while encouraging normalized relations with Israel. The US is gambling on support from the Arab reactionary regimes, which have exposed their cards as allies of Israel in direct contradiction to the wishes of the region’s peoples. The June 2019 American-sponsored workshop in Bahrain aimed to encourage economic investments in the occupied Palestinian territory, ignoring decades of empirical evidence that development is impossible under occupation and that the Palestinian national question, inherently a political one, must be addressed through political and not economic means. Focusing on the Palestinian question as a humanitarian or development issue will serve solely to prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Trump administration continues to encouraging Israeli occupation policies as seen, inter alia, in its December 2017 unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the June 2019 statement by US Ambassador David Friedman that Israel has the right to retain some, if not all, the West Bank.

This is coupled locally with a sharp decline in the ability of Israeli progressive and democratic forces to influence their own society, which is now governed by the most right-wing and racist political powers in Israel’s history.

The political horizon for the Palestinian people appears closed, which sustains the destructive Palestinian political divisions. While all Palestinian political factions have announced their rejection of the deal of the century and its attendant policies, the question is how this challenge can be transformed into an opportunity to overcome divisions in Palestinian national unity and formulate a serious and effective strategy to counter this threat. There is no longer any margin for manœuvre or prevarication by the Palestinian forces, which must rise to this dangerous occasion.

The Oslo process has failed. This is not analysis but a statement of fact. The most urgent task facing the Palestinian people today is not only to understand the reasons behind the failure of this process, but to develop a critical strategy grounded in this understanding and to identify pragmatic solutions for how the Palestinians can fulfil their legitimate national aspirations including the right of return for Palestinian refugees, in the current local, regional and global contexts. Especially now, Palestinians and their supporters must move from information and knowledge to practical, tangible actions. The AICP can play a pivotal role in facilitating and supporting this essential move.

Mission and Vision

The MISSION of the Alternative Information Center – Palestine (AICP) is to promote the national Palestinian identity and to contribute to the building of a free, pluralistic and democratic Palestinian society through the generation of analyses and action-oriented policies, the fostering of inclusive local, regional and international alliances and the enabling of marginalized social groups.

AICP enVISIONs a Palestinian society possessing a contemporary, forward-thinking outlook grounded in social justice and a rejection of extremism and hatred. AICP aspires to cultivate a democratic environment in which Palestinians can practice positive citizenship through an awareness of nationalism, world civilization and humanity.

The work of AICP builds on long-term, successful experience in the field and far-ranging local, regional and international partnerships.

Objectives

  • To contribute to the articulation and application of effective policies to advance a free and democratic Palestinian society through the stimulation and sustenance of community dialogue among social movements and political, religious, economic, intellectual and cultural groups to promote a progressive culture that embraces pluralism and openness while fighting colonial occupation, extremism, hatred and racism.
  • To support the enabling of representatives from marginalized groups, including youth, women, religious and national minorities by developing their critical capacities and skills to be an effectual and proactive force for positive social change.
  • To bolster sustainable networking and coordinating of joint actions through active support for resilient local, regional and international alliances, including progressive Jews, against the culture of extremism, colonialism, hegemony, exploitation and wars in the Middle East.

Programs

To attain these objectives, the Alternative Information Center – Palestine will focus on the following programs, all of which will be supported and amplified through targeted media and social media work in both Arabic and English:

1. AICP Democracy and Counter Extremism Think Tank

Extremism - religious, political, social economic and cultural - as well as racism and hatred, have become a dangerous threat to societies, values and human achievements and must be urgently addressed and countered. The exacerbation of political, economic, social and cultural contradictions and the failure to deal with them in a just and realistic manner is the structural basis of today’s explosive situation. Since the end of the Cold War, instead of turning states, institutions and cultural, political, social and religious constituencies towards rationalism in resolving contradictions, ending conflicts fairly and rethinking international political systems to become more effective and just, we observe that contradictions are increasingly dangerous and disruptive.

The AICP will launch a broad and inclusive think tank for dialogue among social movements, political groups, governmental ministries and organizations, academics, schools, faith leaders, NGOs, local and municipal councils and the private sector to articulate and promote policies for a free and democratic Palestinian society – toward which ending the Israeli colonial occupation is a necessary but insufficient condition. The AICP Think Tank will be guided by the principles and aspirations formulated in such documents as the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its subsequent human rights conventions, the principles of international law and the Kairos Palestine Document, as well as values and objectives for sustainable development and environmental justice.

The AICP Think Tank will act as a centre for dialogue and policy making:

  • To defend human rights and democracy based on freedom, the right of expression and rejection of domination within a secular state based on the idea of full citizenship for all residents.
  • To promote the principle of equality based on social, economic and cultural justice and an equitable distribution of wealth, while acting against the exploitation and plundering of the wealth of nations and peoples.
  • To combat the culture of extremism, racism, colonialism, hegemony, exploitation and wars.

To accomplish this, the AICP will:

  • Initiate action-oriented seminars, workshops and position papers, policies and practical recommendations, as well as advocacy campaigns to promote these ideas together with social and political groups on a local, regional and international level.
  • Build evidence-based cultural and educational programmes to confront racism, extremism and hatred while promoting community-based political development grounded in critical, analytical thought.

2. AICP Youth for Development and Transformation

The systematic targeting of Palestinian youth by the Israeli occupation, coupled with the social, political and economic pressures to which young Palestinians are subjected, have resulted in the spread of despair, frustration, selfishness, narrow mindedness and a distorted consciousness of national identity. The Palestinian community often does not provide youth with the space to initiate and lead. Young Palestinians are frustrated, see no horizon for their personal future and are negatively impacted by religious extremism and the spread of consumer culture. This leads many to focus on local, micro-issues, without an understanding of how they are related to and impact upon the wider context.

In this highly volatile reality and given the power of the information and communication revolution to exert enormous influence on Palestinian youth, it is necessary to develop appropriate and youth-driven actions to address these challenges and risks.

Programs to support Palestinian youth are a professional and social need and they contribute to building and developing the abilities and skills of the next generation. However, such initiatives by many institutions and non-governmental organizations focus on important but limited technical skills while inadvertently ignoring fundamental national questions and issues in their work. When youth lack vision and awareness of the national issues confronting them, particularly in a situation of colonial occupation, serious weaknesses and imbalances are created in their consciousness that negatively impact their nascent role as a force for social change. This has resulted in the growing phenomenon of young people staying away from political action and losing confidence in political groups and their own abilities to bring about positive changes, as well as their tendency toward sectarian and tribal identities and focus on micro, parochial issues in the absence of a strategic vision to unite their varied efforts and initiatives.

The AICP objective of this work is to participate in social change and transformation by developing the awareness, strategic vision and critical thinking of Palestinian youth, both young women and men, about the contexts, dimensions, challenges and key elements of the concept of Palestinian national identity, in order to enable them to overcome narrow partisan, political, party, religious, gendered or social approaches and promote their acceptance of the principle of unity in diversity. In addition to developing their ability to comprehend Palestinian reality in a deeper and more comprehensive way, AICP programs will assist young people in understanding their potential roles and responsibilities in society building and transformation, as well as their individual and national choices, in more critical and expansive manners.

AICP youth programs will employ a variety of interactive and interdependent activities that build upon each other:

  1. Capacity building and mentoring: Workshops, seminars, courses, tours and field visits to learn about the social and political issues facing Palestinians and in particular Palestinian youth and other minority and/or marginalised groups within Palestinian society.
  2. Voluntary work: Reviving the concept of voluntary work through development and support for youth-led field initiatives.
  3. Learning, experience sharing and exchanges: Creating and sustaining a platform on which diverse Palestinian populations, including Muslims, Christians, urban and rural residents, Bedouins and refugees, young and adult women and men can meet and learn together, overcoming social, religious, gendered and geographical divisions that currently keep them apart and help to sustain stereotypes and limited understandings.
  4. Encounters with political parties and NGOs: Facilitating exchanges with these social groups and training youth to hold them accountable.
  5. Public events and media work: Encouraging Palestinian youth to share their problems, ideas and solutions with the wider Palestinian public, opening up discussions and avenues for exchange.
  6. Public advocacy campaigns: Transforming the knowledge, understandings and relationships gained into wider advocacy campaigns to impact and benefit both youth and Palestinian society as a whole.

Alternative Information Centre (AIC)

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