Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's Not Just The Economy, Stupid

My friend Sam Bahour, one of Ramallah's grittiest entrepreneurs and consultants, a Palestinian-American man-of-the-world (who got his Kellogg School MBA at Tel-Aviv University), knows more than most how important economic reciprocity and development will be to building peace. But he also knows their limitations.  Israelis or Americans who think economic advance will be a substitute for a political process that changes borders and governance and makes room for refugees--that Palestinians will be silenced by the hope of material gain--do not understand their future.

On the economic front, they point to grand plans to establish a handful of industrial mega-zones, the majority being located on the unilaterally-defined (illegal) Israeli border between the West Bank and Israel.  These industrial zones are meant to absorb the over 150,000 Palestinian laborers that Israel has prohibited from working in Israel. Moreover, as I was recently told by an Israeli promoting these industrial zones, for every job created in such a zone, three will be created for Palestinians outside the industrial zones -- thus, in essence, creating an entire artificial economy built around Palestinian and foreign-owned, but Israeli-controlled economic bubbles.

What the international community fails to mention is that the dynamic on the ground is explosive. The Israeli military occupation is alive and well and causing structural, possibly irrevocable damage to Palestinian lands and persons. The Jewish-only Israeli settlement enterprise is off the leash and building more and more illegal settlements as if there were no tomorrow, not to mention the increasing tides of settler violence which remains unpunished.  All this settlement activity is happening with full approval of the Israeli government and in full view of the international community. The failing (or failed) health care and education systems in Palestine are producing a generation of Palestinians with much less to lose and little hope for the future.

Read Sam's entire argument here.      


Y. Ben-David said...

Nice piece of propaganda. The old "It's all Israel's fault". In a thread some time ago, Dr Avishai made a posting quoting the selfsame Mr Bahour in which he himself admitted that Arafat's regime, upon arriving in the Palestinian territories, made no effort to create a civil society that would provide law and order and a justice system that would allow private enterprise to flourish.
On second thought, the Palestinians are right...their current problems ARE Israel's fault...because Israel, under Peres and Rabin foisted the corrupt terrorist Arafat and his FATAH terror gangs on the Palestinian population and turned them loose to rob their own population in addition to building an infrastructure designed to launch a massive terror war on Israel in the year 2000. This was Arafat's intention from the beginning....not build a state, or provide "self-determination" for his people, but to launch a war to the death with Israel. Again, Mr Bahour himself admitted Arafat did not build an infrastructure for the benefit of entrepeneurs like himself (Arafat himself had no interest in private entrepeneurs who were not under his direct control-Arab regimes like that of the Palestinians WANT their people to be poor so they can make them totally dependent on them for handouts which keeps them politically reliable.).

Mr Bahour's propagand also includes the old lament that the Palestinians can't build any infrastructure because of the "occupation". He assumes that everyone forgets the fact that the Jews build an embryonic state infrastructure under British occupation. In fact the British tried to get the Arabs to do the same...they refused because by having such an infrastructure they would have to collect taxes...they found it easier to live off British handouts. Nothing has changed. Today, they are doing the same thing, keeping the Palestinian Authority going by living off handouts from the EU and US. This is fine for the Palestinian regime. When the EU threatens to cut the aid, Abbas and Fayyed bring out the old HAMAS threat..."if you don't give us the money, THEY will take over", and the Americans and Europeans cough up the money.
The bottom line is that even if Israel withdrew totally from the territories captured in the Six-Day War, the Palestinians ecnomony would never get off the ground and they would remain wards of the international community indefinitely. This suits their leadership just fine.

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