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    24 November

    | 2020 | 09:00

    Managing the Realities of COVID-19 in East Jerusalem

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    • Online
    • Invites Only
    • Online
    Managing the Realities of COVID-19 in East Jerusalem

    Managing the Realities of COVID-19 in East Jerusalem: From Successes in Times of Crisis to Routine Work Procedures

    Round table summary

    The El-Basha’er Program for Excellence: An Infrastructure for Developing Community Leadership in East Jerusalem


    The round-table discussed the ways that the El-Basha’er Program for Excellence in East Jerusalem answered needs which arose during the COVID-19 crisis in East Jerusalem. The discussion focused on characterizing the work procedures created during that time, their potential for implementation, after COVID-19, and the barriers preventing optimal implementation in each of the relevant bodies. The round-table is part of a research that the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research is undertaking for the Naumann Foundation, entitled: “Working procedures in East Jerusalem in times of COVID-19: characterizing the processes, barriers and opportunities that arise in this new reality”.

    Discussion Summary

    Nabila Mana, deputy-manager of the Department of Arab Education in the Jerusalem Authority’s Education Administration, presented the El-Basha’er program for Excellence, its rationale and the path that its participants undergo. Following her, Missada Jaber from the Public Participation team in East Jerusalem Development Ltd presented the program’s activities: during the COVOID-19 crisis the program stepped-up to assist those residents who had been sent on unpaid leave to fill in the relevant forms for the National Insurance and Employment Service.

    To conclude the round-table, the working model of the El-Basha’er Program for Excellence was presented – focusing on its role as a mediating body between residents and both local and national government. A discussion was held as to the way the model can be expanded and implemented in existing systems, to promote the implementation of Israel’s government’s decision to develop East Jerusalem.

    Insights and Directions for Further Activity:


    • Volunteering costs money: in times of crisis it is possible to create an operational network based on around-the-clock work by all parties involved. In normal times of emergency, though, such a structure will not survive for long. Incentives for both volunteers and coordinators need to be put in place, perhaps even to the extent of creating minimum-wage jobs for the volunteers. 
    • Managing voluntary work is a complex task: to create an efficient and empowering volunteer network (while preventing burn-out and frustration), resource designation of professional managers and time is needed. 
    • It is very important to maintain an element of choice in voluntary work, so that participants can choose tasks that match their values, acting out of authentic feelings and trust in the system, and conveying this to the community with which they are working.
    • El-Basha’er in the lead: Students in the El-Basha’er Program for Excellence cannot carry all the voluntary work on their shoulders, as they are, first and foremost, students. But their ability to lead makes them natural candidates to harness volunteers and to manage the volunteer network.
    • Voluntary work is an important tool in leadership development, and it is important to combine volunteering activities in other situations, not just in programs promoting excellence, or youth movements. 
    • Establishing a volunteer headquarters for East Jerusalem can promote the field immensely: it can help synchronize work between relevant bodies and would serve as the meeting-place, where needs on the ground and volunteering initiatives can meet. In this context, the opening of the new Youth Center in Shu’afat was mentioned, as the suggestion was raised as to whether this could act as a head office to coordinate volunteering. 
    • The Home Front Command is a significant player which can serve as a platform for the network of volunteers, both because of the resources it has at its disposal, and because of the high degree of trust local residents attach to it. 
    • Employing East Jerusalem students in student jobs in municipal and national bodies, supplying services to residents of East Jerusalem, would increase residents’ access to these services and hence their consumption.
    • Direct discourse as the key factor for service consumption: the ability of East Jerusalem residents to talk on the phone to local representatives, in their own language, was of considerable help to users of the services provided. The possibility of initial conversation was significant in establishing a connection – following which, it was possible to continue online.

    Government Decision 3790 as the basis for ongoing thinking about how to implement the model: Implementation of the government decision includes all relevant bodies operating in East Jerusalem, which makes it a relevant platform for collaborative thinking. Such a platform can outline those areas in which gaps between residents and governmental offices create a barrier, and examine which volunteering tools (as presented in the current work model) can be used to help bridge gaps.