Orna Raz

Jimmy Carter And Habitat For Humanity: Not In Israel

Last winter we stayed in New Haven CT for several months. During that time my partner volunteered in Habitat for Humanity. The organization builds houses for working people with limited means. So far it has built houses for 4 million people all over the world. The buyers get the house below market price and in return donate certain number of hours working on Habitat’s projects.

Once a week my partner worked together with other volunteers building a  new house. By Christmas the house was finished and we were invited to attend the home dedication. There were several speeches about the work and philosophy of the organization.We heard about collaboration between people from different cultures and religions, and about Habitat’s projects all over the world. We also met the new owners, a single mother with her two teenaged children. It was a  moving experience, very appropriate for Christmas.

Since we knew that Habitat had branches overseas, and my partner was interested in promoting similar projects in the south of Israel, we wrote a letter inquiring whether it was possible to bring Habitat to Israel as well.

This is the reply that we got:

“Thank you for your interest in Habitat for Humanity.

Unfortunately, Habitat for Humanity has no operations in Israel or any immediate plans to expand there. As you can imagine, opening up new operations in a country requires a large and sustainable level of funding and human resources both of which we can’t commit at this time. We do, however, work in the region and as coalition partners with international and mission-aligned organizations. We also advocate for changes in housing policies to improve access to affordable shelter and security of tenure.

If our plans for Israel should change, we will keep your letter in mind.  Again, thank you for your interest. “

Habitat for Humanity is closely associated with former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. Thus, I can’t believe that it is  a mere coincidence that an organization wiith such strong ties to the former president chooses to stay away from IsraeI

The internet site of Habitat is full with information regarding the couple’s involvement. They are also: “Habitat’s most famous volunteers”

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s involvement with Habitat for Humanity International began in 1984 when the former president led a work group to New York City to help renovate a six-story building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter.

That experience planted the seed for the Carter Work Project, which has been an internationally recognized Habitat event ever since.

Worldwide view shared by Carter and Habitat
“Habitat has successfully removed the stigma of charity by substituting it with a sense of partnership. The people who will live in the homes work side by side with the volunteers, so they feel very much that they are on an equal level.”
-Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter is a true humanist: the 4 million people who live in Habitat for Humanity homes all over the world are a living proof of his achievement. Still, not even one of the houses is built here in Israel. A collaboration between Jews and Arabs working together on a house, could bring about, in Carter’s own words, a real “sense of partnership.” In the past Jimmy Carter had done so much for Israel, it’s a shame that we are no longer in his good books.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. .
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