(photo credit: REUTERS)
Mariam Barghouti is a young Palestinian American whose Facebook page describes her as a 20-year old journalist studying at Bir-Zeit University. Last April she spent a day in jail after throwing stones at Israeli soldiers during a violent demonstration at the village of Nebi Saleh.
Last week, The New York Times in both its domestic and international editions published an op-ed by Barghouti captioned “Ramallah’s mean streets.” The article should be required reading for friends as well as foes of Israel, particularly the latter, who never miss an opportunity to denigrate Israel for any real or imagined hardship suffered by the Palestinians – and especially the European parliamentarians who apparently believe that by meaningless resolutions they can create a Palestinian state out of nowhere.
One favorite claim against Israel and the “occupation” is blaming them for the supposedly dire economic situation in the “territories” – but here comes Mariam Barghouti and tells us that “the West Bank has seen a steep rise in economic growth since 2010.” Hmm. So “where is the money?” as former finance minister Yair Lapid asked in his election campaign two years ago (he never found the answer). Well, the article provides an explanation: “There is prosperity – for some.... [B]ut for most, the struggle to make ends meet has become more and more arduous; the unemployment rate is stuck stubbornly above 18 percent.”
That figure is bound to go up if international anti-Israel boycotts force Israeli enterprises to reduce the number of Palestinian workers employed by them. The op-ed’s author quotes a local Ramallah cab-driver who tells her: “You think there is no money? There is money. The PA [Palestinian Authority] has money. Look around you, it’s everywhere: the fancy cars they drive to the villas they build – it’s going to explode, we’re all going to explode.”
“Staring at a large poster of the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, holding a paper stamped ‘U.N. BID 194,’ Abu Jamal [the driver’s name] muttered: ‘they are building a state for bones’” – and Barghouti caustically comments: “[T]o justify their existence, our officials fly around the globe collecting symbolic signatures for the recognition of a Palestinian state – meanwhile people in the West Bank struggle to afford basic necessities. As the ink dries on those petitions in Britain, France, Portugal and Sweden [she forgot mighty Luxembourg] the region itself is sinking.”
Lest we forget, it was none other than the same Mahmoud Abbas who fired the one man who might perhaps have put things right in the economic sphere, at least to some extent, i.e. former Palestinian prime minister and US-trained economist Salam Fayyad.
But Barghouti doesn’t confine her criticism to matters economic or financial. She also dwells on the general unhappiness of the population and on the inefficiency of the Palestinian regime – and looking at “a squad of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces parading with their guns” she hints at the police state atmosphere in Ramallah and elsewhere. She also notices that when the taxi driver talks to her criticizing the Palestinian leadership he lowers his voice so as not to be overheard.
This, then, is the situation in what most of the world cynically or foolishly (or both) wants to make an independent state in a mere two years.The author is a former ambassador to the US.