“Jerusalem Link: Bat Shalom and Jerusalem Center for Women”

Published: 2008 by Norwegian Church Aid
Commissioned by:Norwegian Church Aid
Carried out by:Randa Hilal and Aida Touma

Summary

Background:

In 1989, a meeting was convened in Brussels between prominent Israeli and Palestinian women human rights and peace activists. The meeting initiated an on-going dialogue that in 1994 resulted in the establishment of the Jerusalem Link. The Jerusalem Link is comprised of to women`s organizations: Bat Shalom on the Israeli side in West Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem Center for Women on the Palestinian side in East Jerusalem. Each organization was created as autonomous centers, running under the Jerusalem Link umbrella, conducting own and joint projects.

Since Jerusalem Link has not been evaluated before, and considering Norwegian Church Aids support to the two organisations, an evaluation was planned in dialogue with the organisations in order to asses impact and subsequently give input for future planning of cooperation.

Purpose/ Objective:

The aim of the evaluation is to assess the work and impact of Jerusalem Link and provide Norwegian Church Aid with a profound understanding of the joint work of Bat Shalom and Jerusalem Center for Women.

Methodology:

The methodology used is a rapid participatory approach using various tools. The assignment was conducted in three phases; preparation, conducting the data collection, and the analysis and report writing. Data collection included consultation with various stakeholders on various levels by interviews, group discussion, focus groups and donors` questionnaire. It also included desk review, situation analysis and field visits. Feed back was obtained from Jerusalem Link boards, general assembly members, staff volunteers through a workshop after presenting the preliminary finding. Feed back was then incorporated into the report.


Key Findings:

The Jerusalem Link:
Jerusalem Link has been active in carrying out occasional and responsive type of activities. They were also active in the responsive type of actions, linked to certain emergency, emerged violations, or in response to certain incidents. The Jerusalem Link implemented various joint peace building projects before the year 2000 and restarted those projects after the year 2005, such projects within the current context would need better planning, preparation of the groups before joining them, would need to reflect the principles in the preparations of the target groups. Jerusalem Link has been successful in addressing young women through various projects, but could not integrate the young women into their structure afterwards. Addressing the young generation has an important effect within the different generation time effect.

Bat Shalom:
The Bat Shalom's evaluation outcomes indicate that they demonstrate a strong history of commitment for Human Rights and a just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the occupation and the expertise gained through the process can be invested in a more defined way together with the understanding of the importance of the women's role and the cooperation created with the Palestinian Partners in the Jerusalem Link.

Jerusalem Center for Women (JCW):
The Palestinian political contextual changes have affected the daily life of the Palestinians, the public opinion and had its effects on the development of the Jerusalem Center for Women from conduction joint projects and activities under Jerusalem Link into conducting their own projects among women grass roots and young women, with more focus towards women in East Jerusalem, such change has moved JCW into programs that addresses the needs of women and right deficits through the local initiatives, it have linked them with grass roots and made them able to identify Palestinian women's needs and right deficits. The link to grass roots enabled them to have volunteers for political and joint activities, as some have participated in 8th of March demonstrations and activities. On the other hand; the grass roots linkages did not reflect itself on the political dialogue nor reflected their concerns on the decision making levels. They were not incorporated into the decision making bodies, the General Assembly or the Board.

Recommendations:

The Jerusalem Link:
A strategic planning process is recommended for the JL during which identity, continuity, organizational structure and relations should be decided upon. Only after deciding on the identity and mandate according to the new political situation can the JL decide on the organizational structure and plan for future programs and projects. Strategizing is recommended to be based on Rights Based Approach for rights based analysis and political activism strategies. It is expected that tools and means for the strategy have to be outside the circle, innovative and different. Strategic planning that can direct Jerusalem Link from reaction strategies and slogans into pro-action rights-based strategies.

Bat Shalom:
The internal situation in Bat Shalom with regards to finance, management and capacities should be taking into consideration in the process of developing a new strategic plan. An organized filing and documentation system should be created and job descriptions with clear activity and budget plans should be developed with the staff. All of this can be reached only by increasing the number of staff and ensure better definition og responsibilities. While emphasizing the need to go into strengthening of the grassroots political activism there is a need to develop new ways of working and enhance a clear approach in planning and implementing the activities to meet the goals decided upon.
It is recommended that Bat Shalom go through a strategic planning process that enables it to decide on future directions.

Jerusalem Center for Women (JCW):
The move from projects towards advocacy plans and campaigns provided the basis for moving into using a Rights Based Approach in strategies and plans. Focusing on Jerusalem is an asset for JCW as few NGOs are present in Jerusalem. There are challenges and severe right deficits. The relation to Jerusalem Link in this regard is an assets as well, depending on the ability to change towards RBA strategies and plans. Jerusalem Center for Women needs to develop a long term strategy with program based funding. The strategy needs to be rights based and address the right holders.

Comments from Norwegian Church Aid (if any):
NCA seek to follow up the recommendations in the partner cooperation. Jerusalem Centre for Women has started a new strategy process. NCA will consider to follow up the evaluation by providing support in the strategy work of Bat Shalom.



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