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Bentley Professor Leading World Bank Team to Jerusalem and West Bank

September 15, 2003

Denis Sullivan, who joined Bentley this fall as professor and chair of International Studies and director of the Cronin International Center, is heading to Jerusalem and the West Bank in two weeks to lead the World Bank team in a review of the Bank's Palestinian NGO Project. His five-person team will travel from September 26 to October 10 as part of the World Bank's ongoing work with Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in providing needed services to the poor and disadvantaged citizens in the West Bank and Gaza.

Q: How long have you been involved with this particular project?
A: I've been involved about eight years. I was a Fulbright Scholar in the West Bank in 1995 and I was investigating what I thought was the World Bank's activity in Palestinian civil society. As I was asking the World Bank director some questions, he said, 'Wow, these are great questions. Why don't I hire you as a consultant and why don't you ask these very same questions, but ask them of the Palestinians and then you help me to design the project.' So I've been involved with it, really from the ground floor. Three years ago, on my last trip, I recommended the project continue and be launched into a second phase. That's why they invited me back, to evaluate whether they've done a good job.

Q: What do you expect to find on this upcoming trip?
A: That's a loaded question when it comes to Israel and Palestine. On the project itself, what I expect to find is mostly deterioration of the social services that the World Bank was trying to support. The Bank's goals are to support women, the poor and the marginalized. Even three years ago, there was some hope, some optimism, but things have just deteriorated. I expect to find a lot of frustration, and yet hard work on the part of Palestinians and the World Bank trying to keep this project alive. The reality is the other side of this coin - the reality of the occupation and the cycle of occupation, terrorism, and violence as well as the deteriorating situation of Palestinian lives in particular. I know I will witness that as well. I'm not expecting to find a happy situation, but I'm glad I'm going back to see it firsthand.

Q: What's it like to see it firsthand?
A: Well, for instance we were told flat out that we wouldn't be going to Gaza. Gaza's just too dangerous. There are over a million Palestinians in this tiny strip of land, and in reality, they're living in a cage. There's a fence all around the Gaza Strip and you can't get in or out, except at two or three checkpoints. What I'm afraid of seeing is how the West Bank might start to look like Gaza - more impoverished, more dangerous. But because of the Israeli checkpoints, there are certain places that you can't get into. Our movement is going to be very restricted, mostly in and around Jerusalem. We'll have people and interviewers come to us.

Q: Why did you come to Bentley?
A: I really thought this was the job of a lifetime in many ways. The way that the college decided to integrate the International Center with the International Studies department is something I argued for years to do at Northeastern. When I read the job description, I swear I said, 'This has my name written all over it.' Frankly, it's just been an incredible honeymoon ever since. There's such an enthusiasm here- faculty, staff and students- for international studies. We have the resources to put into international initiatives, and the college demonstrated to me that its commitment is real. It's a great fit.

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