Does the Palestinian West Bank boycott the Israeli Occupied Territories?

Does the West Bank boycott the occupied territories?

The above phrase ‘looks’ like the ‘Drawing Hands’  from Escher: the West Bank hand  drawing his involvement with Israel and vice versa.. Israel’s hand drawing her involvement with the occupied territories..

Drawing hands, Echer
Drawing hands, Echer

(Drawing Hands, Escher).

With this picture in my mind, I read  one of the last announcement to boycott Israel, I quote …” The  Spanish Housing Ministry has disqualified Ariel University Center from the international Solar Decathlon contest, on the grounds that the university is “located in occupied territories.”see here.

Well yes the Ariel University Center is located in the West Bank in the occupied territories. But does all those ‘beautiful people’ in Spain ask themselves, if their preaching to boycott Israel  has any real repercussion in the West Bank (..the occupied territories)?

Surprisingly perhaps, here is an answer by:

…”The governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari [said,]“Israelis are paranoid because of their past, while Palestinians are paranoid because of their present,” Mr. Tamari said. “But we are doomed to live together or blessed to live together, depending on your point of view. It is true that the economy is improving slightly. But beyond that, I’m afraid very little is getting easier.“ see here.

Or in more optimist words by the  Bethlehem’s mayor Victor Batarseh:

It has been the best year since 1999,” …. “Our hotels are full, whereas three years ago there
“ was almost nobody. Unemployment is below 20 percent. But we are still under occupation.”,see here.

This shows the gap between unscrupulous cowardly armchair professional boycotts of Israel,  and what happens in everyday life in the West Bank. If we want to understand the difficulties of those who are “doomed to live together or blessed to live together,…” as said by the governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari, then ‘doomed’ can be transformed into something closer to ‘blessed’.

The boycotters, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, have  no idea of what’s really going on in the West Bank. Reading boring economic reports from Palestinian and Israeli statistical sources is only a nuisance to their obsession  to denounce Israel as the bad guy.

Here is a example of such a boring nuisance. The “Report of the Government of Israel to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee New York, September 22, 2009” ,see here, ,  shows valuable information about the  actual… (blessed)… relation between  the West Bank and Israel. The information about the West Bank economy comes in part from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics:

…”This relative economic growth and an improved quality of life are demonstrated by a flourishing of economic, cultural and social activities, including the opening of a shopping mall and a cinema complex in Nablus, the project to build the city of Rawabi, and increased activity of cafes and restaurants throughout the West Bank. According to official Palestinian sources,1 since 2008, foreign investment in the West Bank has increased by 600%, as a result of economic conferences held in Bethlehem and Nablus and the improved security situation on the ground. A sharp increase in cement consumption reaching, during the first half of 2009 alone, a figure exceeding by 18%, amounts consumed in all of 2008, reflects the high volume of construction activity on the ground.

During the first quarter of 2009, the Palestinian GDP increased by 5.6% compared to the parallel quarter in 2008 (despite early estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, predicting that the annual GDP would shrink by 3.1%). According to IMF estimates, economic growth in 2009 is expected to reach 7%. However, if the trend of growth recorded in the first quarter of 2009 continues, annual economic growth for 2009 could even surpass these relatively optimistic IMF forecasts. This increase continues despite the global economic crisis. Most economic sectors contributed to this acceleration in economic activity.”….

So to return to the question: does the West Bank boycott the ‘Occupied Territories’, I quote from the article “Green Shoots in Palestine II” published by the NYT and written by Thomas L. Friedman :

…”..many Israelis were no doubt surprised to read this quote in the Maariv daily from Omar Hashim, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Nablus, the commercial center of the West Bank: “Traders here are satisfied,” said Hashim. “Their sales are rising. They feel that life is returning to normal. There is a strong sense of optimism.”…

…“You can feel the movement,” said Olfat Hammad, the associate director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, who lives in Nablus and works in Ramallah. “It is not a burden anymore to move around to Ramallah for business meetings and social meetings.” Nablus recently opened its first multiplex, “Cinema City,” as well as a multistory furniture mart designed to cater to Israelis. Ramallah’s real estate prices have skyrocketed.

“I have had a 70 percent increase in sales,” Maariv quoted a Nablus shoe store owner as saying. “People are coming from the villages nearby, and from other cities in the West Bank and from Israel.”…see here .

And how do the Palestinian West Bank residents cope with the their own difficulties? From the site “Ramallah Syndrome” here is a excerpt from a discussion:

…”- Alessandro
Maybe a point is the definition of resistance. We always refer to the first intifada as a model, the only model, which can be a problem. Lisa’s articles and also Nasser’s article say there is a different form of resistance today. Then you didn’t go to the cinema because you were resisting, now it’s different. It’s not only negative. We are also a part of that, we are also having a life. It would be stupid to have the same model as the first intifada for the sake of it. But it has to be said that the opposite is also stupid, when you are building your career on Palestine, on the tragedy of Palestine, and having a normal life. And honestly, everyone here even though they are under occupation, is enjoying his or her life to some level, so you can also resist and have a normal life. The Lebanese have always managed to balance resisting and also trying to enjoy life. I don’t think it’s completely wrong.”… see here,

(extracts from conversations N. 1/Oct. 2008 and N. 2/Dec. 2008)

So the discussion and the doubts arising from  economic prosperity without resistance is the lesser of evil for many, but  for the belligerent Palestinian leaders it is an anathema, I quote (“Beware ‘economic peace” by Sever Plocker in Ynet) :

…”The economic normalization threatens the revolutionary and radical elements within Palestinian society, and they swore not to allow this normalization to take root. It’s perceived by them as indirect reconciliation with the occupation. A national liberation movement, and certainly a national-religious one, withers away when the masses go out to shop rather than to demonstrate.

The reinforcement of a Palestinian middle class, which may fall in love with a routine life, reject the ongoing struggle, and enjoy its proximity to the large Israeli market is anathema in the view of the militant leadership, and not only there. The tensions between economic and personal progress and a diplomatic and national dead-end tear Palestinian society apart.”… see here.

Another observer, Daniel Schueftan in his article “The Palestinians did it again”  put a direct emphasis,, on ..I quote:

…”The Palestinians are proving yet again that even the responsible elements among them cannot act in a constructive manner in order to build society and promote stability, welfare, and an agreement with Israel. They cannot do it because, as it turned out again, at the moment of truth we see the irresponsible, violent, and demagogical radicals who incite and fan the flames gain the upper hand.”…

…”Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is attempting, for the first time, to utilize the generous foreign aid for constructive aims and build a functioning society. President Abbas and his people realized (belatedly) the gravity of the terror curse and Hamas’ existential threat. Under their political patronage, the United States trained Palestinian security forces (the so-called “Dayton forces”) who are doing well in the fight against terrorism and its infrastructure.”…

…”However, this is where the self-destruction mechanism that has been thwarting the Palestinian people since it was formed almost 90 years ago came into action: An irresponsible and belligerent minority turns to violence, radical elements promise a zealous public immediate satisfaction via “victimization demagoguery,” and this immediately prompts the responsible elements to assume a defensive posture and be neutralized in the political arena.”….see here.

These are only a few glimpses 0n what really happens in the West Bank between The Israelis and the Palestinians despite all the security frictions all the animosities and mistrust. This is also a pointer to what can be done with hard work from both sides.

Will this convince the ‘enlightened’ Spanish and other European  boycotters? My bet is no, for the simple reason that their only aim is to harm Israel not to help the Palestinians…Their belligerent destructive boycott is also harming Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s attempt to build  a new Palestinian economy…. So as the old adage says ..”While dogs bark, the caravan passes.”