Convener's Report 2024

DNTA Convener’s Report 2024

Covers April 2023 – March 2024

Presented at the DNTA AGM on 20th June 2024

You can also read this as a PDF: DNTA Convener’s Report 2023-24


Last year I started my report by saying how difficult life was for people in Nablus. Little did we know how horrendous the situation would become for everyone in Palestine over the following months.

After the last AGM, we had an extremely positive strategy meeting to work out our priorities for the year ahead. We decided to commit to a limited number of projects that would build further the relationships between the people of Dundee and those in our twin city. However, Israels’ war on Gaza has meant that we have been busier, possibly than we have ever been, fulfilling our commitments while fully participating in the campaign to stop the genocide in Gaza and highlighting the intensifying oppression in the West Bank, particularly in and around Nablus. 

In November, we were given a civic reception by the Lord Provost to celebrate 30 years of the Twinning Association (the twinning itself took place in 1980 but the Association, DNTA, was established in 1993). This was an extremely successful event, bringing together members, committee members past and present and supporters. Via a Zoom link, Dr Husam Shakhshir, Deputy Mayor of Nablus (now the Mayor) congratulated DNTA for the work we do and expressed his desire to deepen links with Dundee. Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, sent a message of support highlighting the need to bring an end to the occupation and to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza.

This has been the context for our work. Every event and activity we have been involved in has been heightened by the horrors taking place, not just in Gaza but across Palestine. Our twin city and its surrounding villages have been subjected to brutal onslaughts from illegal settlers and the Israeli army. Many lives have been lost, thousands have been arrested without charge, instances of torture in Israeli jails have been documented, crops destroyed, education and healthcare disrupted, the economic situation for many is dire.

Our mission to develop friendship and understanding between the people of our cities, must mean an understanding of what life is like under a brutal and illegal occupation.

Practical Support and Fundraising

Our Campaign to support the training of student Nurses and Midwives in Nablus, in conjunction with our sister charity FONSA (Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas) has already exceeded our initial target. A full update on the figures will be given at the AGM. A huge thanks to all those individuals, trade unions and other organisations who have donated. Particular mention must be given to Mike Arnot who, as outgoing President of the STUC, allowed us to speak at his STUC reception and organized a collection as well as distributing our leaflets to all STUC delegates.

The pupils of Morgan Academy also deserve special thanks for collecting 500 pounds for the campaign.

As the crisis has deepened over the last few months, we have also initiated “Nablus in Need” to provide emergency funding for Food Coupons for those in extreme poverty, Project Hope, and New Askar Refugee Camp Kindergarten.

Involvement of Young People

Our links with the staff and pupils at Morgan Academy has grown even further this year. We have given presentations to all S5 pupils and to members of their Interact group. The head teacher is keen that next year we attempt to link the pupils with those in a school in Nablus.

We have also established links with St Paul’s Academy. We were asked to speak at their S6 Conference on Human Rights in the Middle East. Following that talk, they too have expressed an interest in linking with pupils in Nablus. We have provided them with a contact and look forward to further developments.

A big thank you also to East Craigie football club who have linked with Ebal FC in Nablus.

Trade Unions

DNTA’s links with Dundee Trades Union Council are excellent. They support our campaigns and we were delighted to participate in their SPEAK OOT festival in May by holding an evening of film and chat in The Vine. It was good to be able to have a more informal meeting with members and friends to discuss how further we can support Nablus. The event was enhanced by some amazing Palestinian food.

Jim Malone, one of our members has been instrumental in obtaining a Fire appliance from the Fire Brigades Union which will be on its way to Nablus very soon.

Links with Nablus

Despite ongoing difficulties, we are managing to enhance links with individuals and organisations in Nablus. Frequent zoom talks have featured speakers from Nablus and we were fortunate to have Naseer Arafat keep us up to date with developments there. The now Mayor of Nablus, Hassam Shakhshir, spoke to us recently on the economic situation in the city and Abed Aker frequently posts photos of Dundee’s activities on the Nablus Municipality Facebook page. It is more important than ever that we keep good contact so we can monitor the situation there and feedback the reality to people in Dundee.

Activities, Public Engagements Etc

As well as those already mentioned, DNTA members have been in great demand speaking at meetings and rallies across the city. We have had a presence at bake sales and other community events including, of course, Westfest.

Our film night in the DCA, as part of Dundee Women’s festival was a sellout.

We put on a colourful and informative exhibition in the Central Library covering the history of the twinning and showing many facets of life in Nablus. During the Exhibition, we held a reading of Palestinian poetry in conjunction with Dundee Art Workers for Palestine.

Thank You

A huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard this year. There is no doubt that the last few months have tested every one of us. Our membership has increased massively but that is a result of our increased levels of activity.

We are a small committee, and the recent workload has been immense. I want to thank the committee members, and those members and supporters who have stepped up to make sure that the situation in Palestine is on everyone’s lips.

Sometimes it is easy to think that our small contribution makes very little difference to those in Nablus but our friends and partner organisations know of the work we have done and send their thanks and appreciation of DNTA’s continued support. We are a small reminder that the world has not forgotten them.

Mary McGregor
June 2024

DNTA Committee Members 2023-24

These are last year’s Management Committee members:

Arlene Rashwan Membership Secretary
& Community Link Officer
Bill CampbellLord Provost (ex officio)
Christine Issa Minute Secretary
& Event Organiser
Fiona Dixon Committee Member
Florence Germain Event Organiser
Mary McGregor Convener
Marysia Kobylaska O’Sullivan Committee Member
Mike Whitehead Treasurer
Mohamad Issa Vice-Convener
Nick Steff Secretary
Sandy Greene    Committee Member