This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life In The West Bank

"I live a social life that is probably as good as any European country. My wife and I live in a nice flat, we have good jobs, we go out often to pubs and restaurants with friends or alone. We have one or two vacations a year during which we almost always go to Europe."
"We are not rich. But our lifestyle is not the way most Palestinians live, we have significantly higher disposable that allows us to live this life style."
"As in every country, there are people who are filthy rich, and those living in extreme poverty and those at different points between the two ends of the spectrum."
"You can say the we are, generally, no different from the neighbouring countries like Jordan, but much better off than Egypt due to less skewed distribution of wealth."

"You can lead a good living standards in the West Bank. But you will always be living day to day, no matter how rich or poor you are. I, like almost everyone else, feel suffocated by the level of control Israel has on us and the extent to which they exercise this control, ultimately affecting every aspect of our lives."
Nedal Zahran, Palestinian resident, writer, West Bank 

The Palestine Trade Tower in RamallahThe Palestine Trade Tower in Ramallah is claimed to be the tallest building in the Palestinian Authority

In the West Bank, as in every other community in the world there is a mixed population, those living moderately, those living in poverty and those living with sumptuous wealth. There are dank streets and humble dwellings and within there is bitterness at the lean life and the questionable future its inhabitants visualize. On the other hand, there are areas with 5-star hotels and restaurants whose chefs hail from Paris and Florence. There are multi-story shopping malls, cafes and nightclubs.

Movenpick Hotel in RamallahMovenpick Hotel in Ramallah

If you had your pick, which would you choose? Well, life does not always give us options and we live where we do because we have few other choices. Where luxury suites of hotels cost $400 nightly with breakfast at a Movenpick Ramallah Hotel with its seven banquet halls and modern amenities "overlooking the suburbs of Jerusalem", the privileged take full advantage, as why would they not? Those not privileged can only look on in envy; they might be impoverished residents of Ramallah or equally poverty-stricken Israeli Jews.

House of Palestinian businessman Mohamed Abdel-Hadi
House of Palestinian businessman Mohamed Abdel-Hadi

Looking for luxury car dealerships? They can be found there. And cars that fit that description can be found on the streets as well, but they're associated with streets upon which stand palatial mansions, for there is wealth aplenty. Aside from the wealth there is a rich vein of history, special to Jews, Christians and Muslims. In fact, Islam lays claim to much of which is sacred to Judaism and Christianity, since Isa, whom Jews and Christians better know as Christ was born a Muslim Palestinian.

Just ask Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It's one of many historical factoids he is particularly proud of. Then there is the Cave of the Patriarchs the most ancient of Jewish sites venerated by Jews, of course. Imagine: 3700 years ago Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah of the Old Testament were buried in that sacred tomb. It is a place revered by Muslims since Ibrahim as they know him, was a Muslim prophet.

Jawwal cell phone company in el-Bireh, next to RamallahJawwal cell phone company in el-Bireh, next to Ramallah

The human-misery index of the West Bank is undeniable; the poverty rate stands at 18 percent. Wait: the poverty rate for the United States is 15 percent. And Israel's? How about 21 percent. There is a high literacy rate among Palestinians; 96.5%, something to be justly proud of. Palestinians view their education system with high approval. According to the United Nations' Human Development Report, Palestinians outlive their Arab neighbours by five years.

Palestinian infant mortality rate is less than half of other Arabs. The New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index reports that Palestinians are among the happiest of Arabs, ranking 30th happiest in the world. Imagine, if you will; Palestinians are happier than Canadians, Americans, Australians and Britons. BMWs and Mercedes abound, since there are local dealerships aplenty. 

Of the world's longest-lived refugee camps, 19 exist teeming with Palestinians. The Palestinian refugees of the current era include the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original 1948 refugees.

Kerish Motor Mall in Beitunia, 3 km. west of RamallahKerish Motor Mall in Beitunia, 3 km. west of Ramallah

They are, of course, refugees of such long standing because having fled the territory that Israel claimed after the UN declaration of Partition which the Palestinians flatly rejected, no Arab countries would give them status as citizens, though they allowed the United Nations to erect refugee camps for them, to fester with resentment within; a sore become a scab that everyone picks at and when it bleeds the world responds with compassion.

Arab Mansion in RamallahArab Mansion in Ramallah

The camps of course are no longer tent cities, if they ever were. They are cities of four- and five-story apartment buildings, the units owned by the residents. There is no shortage of electricity, satellite television, water and sewage systems, and municipal garbage collection. All paid for by the United Nations and Western aid agencies. In the last two decades an estimated $30 billion has gone to the aid of the Palestinians.

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