Israel is triumphant. Dominant militarily, diplomatically and economically. The West Bank economy has been decimated. Unemployment is soaring. Tourism – long a main source of income, especially in towns like Bethlehem, has been almost completely shut down. And with it, the possibility of selling handicrafts to tourists. Here are a couple of ways Canadians can act to help keep the Palestinian economy afloat in the West Bank until this devastating pandemic is under control. Read more…
Option 1 – “Save Tourism” – an initiative of the Siraj Centre, in Beit Sahour, Palestine
Since 2004, Siraj Center has managed all of the OFIP tours to Israel/Palestine. It works with the local community to improve their hospitality skills, so as to enhance the experience of visitors to Palestine and has widened the number of beneficiaries from tourism through exploring new markets such as hiking, biking, home stay, students exchange, and other experiential tourism activities.
Unfortunately, this has made increased their dependency on tourism income, making them vulnerable now to the lack of tourism caused by the pandemic and Israeli policies.
“Local families which work with us have not had any income since the first week of March,” notes Michel Awad, Siraj’s Executive Director. “They currently require urgent financial aid. To patch those needs, Siraj has decided to launch the Save Tourism initiative to enable international consumers to buy local products from those same artisan families to help them survive until tourism is back.”
Siraj has built a new website aimed at allowing Canadians and other colleagues, partners, friends and supporters to easily find a way to help by ordering Palestinian handicrafts, such as embroidery work, handmade soap, textile and leather-made products and olive wood carvings.
“We invite Canadian friends to visit us at www.savetourism.ps,” continues Michel Awad. “Check out our products and order on-line”. According to the Savetourism website, shipments are sent to North America twice a week and take 30 to 45 days to get here. Just in time for Christmas.
Option 2 – Zatoun – a Palestinian Canadian initiative
Zatoun is a Toronto-based grassroots project offering fair trade extra virgin olive oil and other products from Palestine to connect people in North America to the history, culture and challenges faced by Palestinians in their struggle for a free Palestine. Started in 2004, Zatoun uses symbolic and cultural products to engage everyday Canadians directly with Palestine and to advocate in Canada for a just peace in Palestine-Israel.
“You are invited to shop and share wonderful fair trade products selected for their meaning and attachment to values of justice and peace. Likewise you are invited to care for the people and the land of Palestine by contributing directly to planting olive trees and recreational programs for refugee youth,” notes Zatoun founder, Robert Massoud. Massoud is originally from Jerusalem.
Canadians can check out the many products offered by Zatoun, and order directly on their website. Orders are delivered promptly via Canada Post. Zatoun olive oil makes a great gift for all occasions. Instead of wine bring olive oil.
Whether you order direct from Palestine or through a Canadian outlet – remember Christmas and the Holiday Season are coming, so don’t delay!!
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.