Center for Democracy and Community Development

Founded in 1997,The Center for Democracy and Community Development is a non-profit Palestinian NGO based in Jerusalem aiming at: disseminating the concepts and experiences of community -based participatory democracy; promoting the practices and theories of just peace in the Palestinian community, North Africa, and the countries of West Asia; encouraging the participation of marginalized groups in the decision - making processes; working with children, youth, women, and community groups to improve society; developing exchange programs, research projects, and policy initiatives for the purpose of community building, training, empowerment, and rehabilitation; and coordinating with all local, ...

Center for Democracy and Community Development
14 Ibn Batuta St. KamalBldg. 2nd Flr
Jerusalem, Jerusalem none
Palestine
972 2 6281151
http://www.cd-cd.org

Board of Directors

Hanna Siniora, Ibrahim Bisharat, Iman Al Ratrout, Ata Qaymari, Sahar Munayyer, Abdullah Kiswani, Rimeen Hammad, Narmin Wahbeh-Alami, Rasha Nabulsi, Walid Salem, Hamdi Nabulsi

Mission

Founded in 1997,The Center for Democracy and Community Development is a non-profit Palestinian NGO based in Jerusalem aiming at: disseminating the concepts and experiences of community -based participatory democracy; promoting the practices and theories of just peace in the Palestinian community, North Africa, and the countries of West Asia; encouraging the participation of marginalized groups in the decision - making processes; working with children, youth, women, and community groups to improve society; developing exchange programs, research projects, and policy initiatives for the purpose of community building, training, empowerment, and rehabilitation; and coordinating with all local, regional and global institutions that conduct related work.

Programs

CDCD has been active since 1997. There are six major projects that are being currently in place. First is MECA, or Middle East Citizens' Assembly. This program was started in September 2001, as a means to establish a network of organizations in Middle Eastern countries that would promote the issues of citizenship. In the founder's words, there appears to be a great lack of understanding of the concept of "citizenship" in the countries in the area because the people "see the state as their caretaker, more than they are the caretakers of themselves." Consequently, this type of mentality leads them to believe that they are "subjects" to the state's authority, more than the state is subject to the authority of the people; which contradicts one of the fundamental principles of a democracy. The MECA network includes participants from 19 countries, including Iran, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, the Netherlands, Helsinki, and additional countries from the Middle East. Over the past, we have held several debates, workshops, and symposiums to discuss how to promote citizenship in the region. CDCD's second main project is Bringing Peace Together (BPT), which was started in 2004. As the name suggests, this project brings together peace activists from Israel and Palestine and promotes dialogue between the two camps. A third project is the Arab Peace Initiative (API). Through the API, CDCD, along with partnering organizations, looks to bring about a comprehensive plan for Middle Eastern Peace. Additional projects include: establishing a platform for academic cooperation (which is in "impasse" as of now because of mounting waves of anti-normalization sentiments), and working with communities in Jerusalem in order to further develop them. Some of the initiatives carried through encompass the establishment of the Jerusalem Women Parliament, as well as bringing Israeli and Palestinian youth together to develop their own community projects. CDCD has two branches, one in Jerusalem, and the other one in Gaza. The Jerusalem office is staffed with eight people, four of whom are full-time employees, while the rest, (including myself) are college interns. The office is pretty small, and the work environment is pretty laid back. Unfortunately, many of my co-workers are not nearly as motivated as Mr. Walid is, which can be quite disappointing at some times. This is an issue that came up as I was interviewing one of them. They do not see a tangible outcome to the office's efforts, so they are discouraged and do not give their best. As I slightly mentioned this issue to Mr. Walid, he responded by saying that the office faces many challenges that are difficult to overcome. Some of these challenges include pecuniary instability and lack of sufficient funding for all the projects that are developed. He also mentioned that there are underlying political circumstances that make the center's goals seem unreachable (for instance the growing sentiment of anti-normalization with Israel that is growing rampant in Arab and Islamist countries, the lack of unity and consensus in Palestine and other countries regarding what should be done, and the eminent decrease in impact and harsh criticism that pro-peace Israeli organizations are facing). Mr. Walid jokingly calls this "the headache of the Middle East." However discouraging this might seem, there is something that he said, which struck me as both motivational and inspiring: "I believe in this cause, and because I believe, I must work." With these words, I have nothing else to say but that I also believe, and I must also work, no matter how unreachable these goals might seem. I hope that this type of environment will be conducive to my personal incursion into the field of politics and advocacy.

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