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Here’s how Sadeq can get married

Israel/Palestine
on 13 Comments

 

Sadeq's house just needs doors, windows, paint, tile, and plumbing to finish (Photo:Rebuilding Alliance)

Al Aqaba, Jordan Valley, Palestine. Sadeq’s house just needs doors, windows, paint, tile, and plumbing to finish (Photo:Rebuilding Alliance)

Sadeq and his fiancé are ready to marry.  He has a job — check.   He can support a wife and family — check.  As soon as their house is finished — pending, they can get married.  Sadeq’s family, his neighbors, and the American nonprofit called Rebuilding Alliance are building him an affordable 3 bedroom home on the land his family owns in their Village of Al Aqaba (near Tubas), in the West Bank’s Area C, Jordan Valley.  His home is the first of three in a program called, ‘Rebuilding to Remain.’

If enough of us pitch-in to finish those first three homes next Wednesday February 12th, Sadeq will celebrate his wedding in March!  Why Wednesday?  That’s when GlobalGiving.org provides a 30% matching bonus for each donation to ‘Rebuilding to Remain.’ All that’s needed are doors, windows, tile, plumbing and paint.

Building a house on the land you own is a noble goal but because these are in Area C, Al Aqaba and Rebuilding Alliance were on our own to forge a whole new way of financing.  Area C makes up 62% of the West Bank and contains most of the West Bank’s natural resources and open spaces.  Palestinians are barred from using 99% of Area C, and the few who remain there are cut off from services available to those living in Areas A and B, including access to water (they are even prohibited from drilling wells), building permits, and home mortgage loans.

The 1993 Oslo Accords temporarily gave Israel the right to administer Area C with the Palestinian Authority given jurisdiction to issue building permits within 18 months of election of the Palestinian Legislative Council.   Though the Legislative Council was elected in 1996, that right to issue building permits was never realized.  Instead, the Israeli Army’s Civil Administration issued over 12,500 demolition orders to Palestinian families who built on their own land in Area C — while it simultaneously issued building permits and tenders for construction to Israeli settlers on land they do not even own.  Demolition bulldozers soon followed.

On Jan. 31st, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley expressed concern about “the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in Area C, particularly along the Jordan Valley, where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year.  The destruction of Palestinian-owned property and forced eviction of Palestinians must be brought to an immediate halt until Palestinians have access to a fair planning and zoning regime that meets their needs.”

Graphic: Architect Hani Hassan designed energy efficient homes are expandable.

Graphic: Architect Hani Hassan designed energy efficient homes are expandable.

That’s what makes Sadeq’s and Al Aqaba Village’s decisions all the more significant: they have asserted their right to live, build, and farm on the land they own.  Al Aqaba’s Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq Sbaih invited Rebuilding Alliance’s team of architects and engineers to work directly with Al Aqaba’s future homeowners to design affordable, energy efficient houses. And working with the families, architect Hani Hassan designed energy efficient homes that can be expanded to 2 stories, a good way to care for aging parents someday.

Together we drafted Palestinian Building Permits where none before existed, and saw them ratified by Al Aqaba’s Village Council, the Governorate of Tubas, and the Palestinian Authority’s Ministries.   The villagers created their own credit union, pooling their life savings to install water cisterns on 20 lots and also provide electrical hook ups.   Rebuilding Alliance created the first and only mortgage loan program for families in Area C, and crowd-sourced the first round of financing and construction through hundreds of donations on GlobalGiving.org.

Home construction financing was harder than it should have been because somehow my government, the United States of America, made it our policy to deny mortgage insurance to Palestinian families living in Area C.  According to a recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) Report, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), described as a quasi U.S. Government agency, along with Palestine Investment Fund “have committed to lend $485 million to the Affordable Mortgage and Loan Company (AMAL) to support mortgages for low- and medium-income borrowers in the West Bank.” When I asked Palestinian banks to back Al Aqaba’s  mortgages, the urged me to call OPIC.  At first OPIC officials said they could not guarantee Al Aqaba’s mortgages until the families had building permits. When I showed them the building permits issued by Al Aqaba’s Village Council (after all building permits are what towns in a democracy do), they told me it is U.S. policy not to guarantee mortgage loans in Area C.   Why not?

‘Rebuilding to Remain’ is built on an unprecedented mortgage loan.  First, our Islamic-compliant mortgage loan program is revolving, set up to finance more new homes as payments are received. Uniquely, Rebuilding Alliance’s Mortgage Loan Agreement states that if their home is demolished, the owner stops repayment until occupancy is restored, something banks would be hard-pressed to do.

All three Rebuilding to Remain Homes are built close to the Kindergarten and Mosque within the circle that "for the time being will remain standing" per the Israeli High Court (photo: Rebuilding Alliance)

All three Rebuilding to Remain Homes are built close to the Kindergarten and Mosque within the circle that “for the time being will remain standing” per the Israeli High Court (photo: Rebuilding Alliance)

In addition, to keep the homes standing, we ask donors large and small to protect their crowd-funding investment whenever bulldozers come near by calling their senators and representative to intervene. Those calls keep Al Aqaba’s kindergarten and village standing despite demolition orders.  Your calls will keep Sadeq’s home safe too.

So what will it take for Sadeq to get married?  Set aside your worry that it’s not worth building homes at risk of demolition, because without building, without investment, without the attention of people who care, demolition bulldozers are sure to prevail.  Instead, share the risk that Sadeq faces by donating to ‘Rebuilding to Remain’ next Wednesday and help win GlobalGiving’s Bonus.  The key that opens the door to Sadeq’s future is in your hands.

Architect Hani Hassan designed energy efficient homes that are expandable to 2 stories, a good way to care for aging parents someday

Graphic: Architect Hani Hassan designed energy efficient homes that are expandable to 2 stories, a good way to care for aging parents someday

 

 

Donna Baranski-Walker
About Donna Baranski-Walker

Donna Baranski-Walker is founder and Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance, a U.S. Nonprofit based in Silicon Valley that helps Palestinian villages build affordable homes, schools and most recently, a birthing center and works to make them safe.

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13 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    February 9, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Although I have set a timer on my computer for Wednesday (and I will probably also get an email from them), a reminder here at Mondoweiss on Wednesday would be very helpful.

    P.S. Here is an interesting portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman that affects a daguerreotype plate circa the late 1800s. It was taken by photographer Victoria Will at the Sundance Film Festival two weeks prior to Hoffman’s death on February 2nd.
    I will be making a donation on Wednesday in his memory.
    IMAGE SOURCE – http://www.opednews.com/articles/Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-by-John-Grant-Demonization_Drug-Abuse-Alcohol_Drug-Abuse-Alcohol_Drug-Abuse-Use-140207-724.html
    IMAGE URL – http://www.opednews.com/populum/uploaded/hoffman-sundance-victoria-will-34823-20140207-147.jpg

  2. amigo
    amigo
    February 9, 2014, 1:12 pm

    Can,t argue , they fit in.

    Unlike the illegal monstrosities built by the squatters.

    Easy to see who is an intruder and who is not.

  3. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    February 9, 2014, 4:18 pm

    Some of the prices are on par with the European prices. It sure pays for Israelis to have a captive market.
    Donated.

  4. bilal a
    bilal a
    February 9, 2014, 9:05 pm

    There might not be a housing shortage:

    Settler Rabbi Who Endorses Goyicide Receives $300,000 in State Funding
    http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2009/11/17/israeli-rabbi-who-endorses-goyicide-supported-by-state/

  5. ritzl
    ritzl
    February 10, 2014, 11:50 am

    George Bailey would be proud. I hope this has a similarly happy ending.

    The strategy of calling Congress with specifics, especially personal property issues for my far-right nutjob Rep, is useful imo. As is the creation of a local thrift.

    Donated what I could.

    PS I see you are seeking about $50K. Why doesn’t Qatari money or that Palestinian multi-$M, Bashar al-Masri support this. This would be chump change to them. They seem to have enough connections to build Rawabi, a $B gated community in the WB. Why not support this as well?

    Seems like they could trade or leverage some of the propaganda chips that Rawabi generates to make life better for other, less affluent Palestinian families (semi-rhetorical).

    Keep up the exciting work. Thanks for the article.

    • RebuildingAll
      RebuildingAll
      February 12, 2014, 7:34 pm

      Unlike the rescue for George Bailey, this one does not depend upon an angel. Instead I look to real world Raul Wallenberg for inspiration. I always thought it must have been a mighty negotiation, to save so many people. Instead his success was based on his creative negotiation for each one’s release, 1 by 1. Wallenberg’s issuance of protective passports is what inspired Al Aqaba’s issuance of their own building permits.

      About your P.S., to be honest, we have sought out those options — and more. The Quatar Foundation seemed interested at first, then no. Royalty at the Global Donors Forum, the biennial convening of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, were excited to see the designs then asked ‘how soon before Israel will demolish the homes?’ They chose not to lend a hand.

      The PA made promises they did not keep. The Rawabi team declined to connect, even though these may be the only truly affordable housing designs available for low-income Palestinians. Millionaire al-Masri did not return our calls, though we tried many times. Islamic Relief warmly welcomed our presentations but they too have not provided funding.

      Shall I go on? The Palestinian Housing Council asked for a proposal to fund the next 10 homes then stepped back without comment. One of their board members negotiated the Area C provisions in the Oslo Accords and had warned Yasser Arafat of the danger of accepting those 18 month delay clauses.

      There’s more. Do you remember Abigail Disney’s promised to divest her holdings in Ahava and invest her earnings in peacemaking initiatives especially in the Jordan Valley? She’s had our proposal for 2 years now. And of all the 20 countries that have invested in Al Aqaba Village, well, the U.S. is not among them yet. We’re hoping this will change soon as USAID is offering to help Al Aqaba market its herbal medicinal teas.

      Al Aqaba, when faced with insurmountable obstacles, chose to respond thoughtfully, with love, and without relying on anything more than their own good resources and the good will of everyone who cares. That’s why I ask you to go to Rebuilding to Remain and click Donate.

      What we give today really matters. It will matter to Sadeq and his fiance. It will matter to this village and more.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        February 12, 2014, 7:50 pm

        Thanks for the response and explanations. Sadly, or hopefully (hard to separate them sometimes), I guess crowd-sourcing it is.

        Best.

      • RebuildingAll
        RebuildingAll
        February 13, 2014, 10:35 am

        Thanks for asking the question and thank you for your support. Though most agree that Al Aqaba’s villagers, indeed all Palestinians, have every right to live on their land in Area C, so far, that very real threat of demolition has been enough to discourage any significant investment. Al Aqaba’s villagers put forward a way to counter that misperception.

        Let’s hope the potential investors accept Al Aqaba’s invitation and proudly join us to build the next 10 homes and do their best, adding their diplomatic channels to all of ours, to keep this village — and the other 149 Palestinian villages in Area C — standing.

  6. RebuildingAll
    RebuildingAll
    February 12, 2014, 11:20 pm

    Good news! We’ve raised enough to finish Sadeq’s house!

    With 45 min to go, ‘Rebuilding to Remain in Palestine’ is in 3rd place by most donors, and 6th place by most donations. We’ve raised a total of $11,092 so far.

    If another 79 donors give before 9pm, we could win a bonus of $1000.

  7. RebuildingAll
    RebuildingAll
    February 13, 2014, 10:47 am

    The Global Giving Bonus Day Competition closed with ‘Rebuilding to Remain’ in 4th place by total donations (2nd, 3rd, and 4th were all very close), and in 3rd place by most donors! 70 people gave during the competition and we raised a total of $12,765 including nearly $3000 in matching funds.

    Thank you so much. We’re now able to finish Sadeq’s house (he and his fiance will get married at last!). I ask more funders to come forward to finish the other two homes because they’ll be safer if they all move in at the same time. What a homecoming that will be!

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