Donor Opium is a new documentary film directed by Mariam Shahin and George Azar about the impact of international aid to Palestinians. The film features Palestinian criticisms of this externally funded “development”. Featured speakers are Khaled Sabawi, Sami Abdel-Shafi, Linda Tabar, Iyad Al Riyahi and Khalil Nakhleh.
International aid to the Palestinians is viewed by many people to be a tool to further entrench the Israeli occupation over the Palestinian territories. Critics of the foreign aid have described it as “opium” meaning it keeps the Palestinians sort of drugged while Israel further entrenches the occupation. Foreign aid was also described in this film as “golden handcuffs” where the donor aid is given but with conditions that require the Palestinians to abide with foreign donor state’s interests. The most realistic outcome, as Khaled Sabawi, an interviewee, said, is permanent occupation; not one state or two state solutions as many would think.
In the next few years, the international aid will reach close to $15 billion, what is it with this aid that has been flowing in for the last 20 years? Has it resulted in the fragmentation and pacification of the Palestinian people? Is it indeed merely a tool used by foreign countries to subdue the Palestinians further and apply Israel’s interests? Why it is that donor states like Germany provide Palestinians with bag of flour while it gives Israel nuclear submarines at the same time?
This film was first displayed in Al-Qasaba Theater in Ramallah, the screening was followed by a lively discussion of which Palestinian youth, businessmen, and intellectuals participated in. I hope this discussion will continue here. Is the foreign donor aid moral and ethical? Or does it serve anti-Palestinian interest?