“I was prevented from traveling by Israel for no other reason than my advocacy to end the daily human rights violations against Palestine,” says Ubai Al-Aboudi, the director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development. .
On April 29, the American-Palestinian activist was attempting to cross the Israeli-controlled land border between the occupied West Bank and Jordan, into Mexico to attend the World Social Forum, an annual gathering of civil society organizations world.
He was banished by the Israeli authorities.
Despite his multiple attempts to get an explanation for why he was denied the trip by the occupation, senior Israeli officials have refused to provide him with an answer.
“Israel could not have continued its violations without the complicity of the international community, including the United States, which remains silent and steadfast,” Ubai said. “The same countries have shown pretty well that they have many tools to punish a state that violates international law like Russia.”
This also applies to the situation in which the Bisan Center and five other Palestinian civil society organizations find themselves, now that Israel declared them “terrorist organizations” last October.
“It all comes down to the critical research and work that we do,” says Ubai.
They didn’t arrest me for personal reasons, they arrested me because I’m part of an organization that denounces human rights violations and asymmetric power relations. They classified Bisan as a terrorist organization because it connects with other grassroots organizations, youth, women and people with disabilities to raise the Palestinian voice globally.
Established in 1989, at the height of the First Intifada by Palestinian progressives and scholars, the Bisan Center is a democratic non-governmental organization aimed at supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and building a strong Palestinian civil society.
Bisan raises the voice of community actors, especially marginalized groups, to better represent their needs and interests and equip them with strategic means to guarantee their fundamental rights.
“We have worked to produce critical research on socio-economic rights, in particular violations by different bodies, be it the occupation or the Palestinian Authority (PA), or big business in the West Bank and Gaza,” explains Ubai. “We have focused all of our work all these years on empowering and giving voice to those people who are rarely heard and who oppose policies that marginalize different segments of Palestinian society.”
The success of the organization, which includes exposing key contributors to the “de-development” of the Palestinian economy, is due to the combination of critical and practical research.
“We don’t just criticize, we also offer a way forward for Palestinians to take control of their destiny by explaining ways to address different issues related to Palestine, be it solidarity economy or economy of firmness.”
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“For example, we have exposed how donor funding fuels de-development in the Palestinian context by looking at the past 25-30 years, since the start of the Oslo process, during which the PA, the West Bank and Gaza , as well as civil society received $50 billion in foreign aid, one of the most subsidized areas in the world.”
According to Bisan’s research, Ubai explains, a significant amount of aid, nearly 85 percent, ended up in Israel through imports, which ultimately addressed the structural failures of the Palestinian economy.
He listed major indicators such as the severe economic decline of Palestine, in addition to the education system which he said is performing worse than in 1994, the poor health system and agricultural areas, as well as the decline in the product gross domestic (GDP).
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and those closely associated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) live in luxury.
We’ve seen the rise of the multi-billionaire phenomenon, those linked to the PA as poverty becomes more entrenched in Palestinian communities
reveals Ubai. “We are also witnessing the phenomenon of the destruction of key productive sectors in the West Bank and Gaza by the neoliberal market-opening policies adopted by the PA, which have contributed to the subjugation of the Palestinian people.”
A vocal critic of corruption within the PA, Ubai says he is not afraid to continue campaigning for human rights. Adding that, as the United States and the international community are doing, the PA must review its own political agendas and allegiances.
“That is why it is crazy that Bisan is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and accused of doing critical research for the benefit of a political party, because none of our academic research benefits any individual political party. all of humanity and so if any political party or country wants to adopt our research we will be more than happy Even Israel because it would cause them to reverse all their racist policies and decolonize Palestine !”
Bisan’s latest research, due to be published later this year, exposes the PA as the second largest body usurping land in the West Bank after the Israeli occupation authorities, to prioritize big business, Ubai said.
“This is an ongoing violation that has occurred in the Jordan Valley, Jericho, Ramallah and Jenin against Palestinian farmers, who are losing their land as a result,” Ubai said. “Some of them are direct confiscation orders from the PA president.”
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He reiterated that Israel is an apartheid occupying state and the main issue, but also, exposing the PA’s complicity in human rights abuses for economic purposes is equally imperative to achieving Palestinian national liberation.
Determined to continue his work despite the criminalization of his organization and targeted harassment by Israeli authorities, Ubai says it is his duty as a human rights defender to continue.
“There will be a price to pay for every activist, but in the long run it will help create a more equal world where human rights are not violated. The case of Palestine is a microcosm of all the injustices that are happening around the world.”
“Whether it is class violations, racism, gender or occupation, you will find it in Palestine, and solving the problems of Palestine will give hope that these problems will not be rooted in other places. of the world.”
The price Ubai has paid for his work is the hacking of his phone. Last year, he was relieved that the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group was integrated into his device.
“The far right, racists and war criminals are not taking a break from their crimes, so to counter this we need continued activism and raising the voice of the people against human rights abuses. man against Palestine,” he added.
“The Pegasus software that was developed here and first used against the Palestinians is now being sold and abused by tyrants globally. It just goes to show that what is going on in Palestine will open the door for more violations of human rights in the world, including the West, that we are already seeing.”