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.”

Mahmoud Darwish Palestinian Poet is gone

This is a short note on Mahmoud Darwish after his premature dead. It is not an obituary, and it is not an analysis of his poetry. I am only a casual reader, impressed by some of his poems mirroring his feelings and those of most Palestinians.
Mahmud Darwish
Mahmud Darwish

A ‘reading’ of Mahmoud Darwish poetry can be done in one of two ways: to forget the causes of the Israel- Arab conflicts  and to consider only their consequences, or to remember the causes and the consequences together, and to arrive at the conclusion that the Palestine side, with the help of other Arab countries, are a major and integral part of the Palestinian tragedy. If you prefer the second way, then  Mahmoud Darwish expulsion from Israel as a kid in 1948, was caused by the then overall situation, when at the initial point of the Israel-Arab conflict,  the Arab countries attacked Israel with only one goal to ‘trow her into the sea forever’.

If you prefer the first way, then the exile the sorrow and tragedy of the Palestinians are an immaculate conception without cause. Mahmud Darwish choice was in many ways ‘the immaculate conception’.
In the course of Mahmoud Darwish’s life, this goal, to ‘trow Israel into the sea forever’ was never abandoned by the Palestinians. Today Israel is on firm shore and the Palestinians are divided into “two states”, Mahmoud Abbas’s  West Bank state and the Hamas’s Gaza Strip state. Reading his poetry, with in the foreground and in the background,  the long range goal of Israel’s overthrow by any means and the view of no causes, are the twin roads leading to the Palestinians suffering, fuelling his activist poetry, coronating him as the national poet of the suffering Palestinian people..the poet Naomi Shihab Nye once said of him:

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye
Poet Naomi Shihab Nye

…”Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world’s whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world-his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.”… see here.


 But much later, in 2007, he says this, I quote….

..” ‘We woke up from a coma to see a monocolored flag (of Hamas) do away with the four-color flag (of Palestine),’ Darwish said before some 2,000 people who attended the reading in the northern port city of Haifa.  ‘We have triumphed,’ he said with thick irony. ‘Gaza won its independence from the West Bank. One people now have two states, two prisons who don’t greet each other. We are victims dressed in executioners’ clothing. We have triumphed knowing that it is the occupier who really won.’ “… see here.

Here Israel is the occupier. Again a de facto statement, forgetting why Israel is in the West Bank, and why Mahmoud Abbas, ironically, needs the Israeli army to prevent the remains of the future Palestinian modern state from falling in the hands of the Hamas. Mahmoud Darwish’s dream of an independent Palestine was surely not that of an Islamic (Hamas) Palestine, ruled by the Iranian will of expansion.
To conclude  here are Mahmoud Darwish’s own words:
 …”With all his criticism, he remained hopeful that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was attainable. “I do not despair,” he told Haaretz. “I am patient and am waiting for a profound revolution in the consciousness of the Israelis. The Arabs are ready to accept a strong Israel with nuclear arms – all it has to do is open the gates of its fortress and make peace.”…  see here.



Hip Hop Palestine

   Hip Hop Palestine “Dam”

  This is about the Palestine and Israeli Arabic Hip Hop music. It is also  , in a time of semi-war and the Vinograd commission report on the second Lebanese war, how hip hop music express the beat of feelings, anger and frustrations of Arabic youths in the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip.

  There are many  Hip Hop sources on the Internet, but seeking a Palestinian point of reference I found “Melkweg a dutch site  advertising the show (03/02/2008)  “Palestine: Sonic Resistance, John Kameel Farah, Checkpoint 303,  Ramallah Underground” ( the West Bank).
  I chose to quote from…”Ramallah Underground (RU) is a hip hop band of three Palestinian youths (the West Bank), Boikutt , Aswatt and Stormtrap, who chose the microphone over Molotov cocktails. They find hope and positivity from the detritus of despair and spread it around through their music.”….”People around the world have the impression that there is no internet or telephones in Palestine, but the truth is we have everything here.”….”Aswatt, 24…..We talk about social issues in our songs. But in addition to that we try to give our people hope. What we voice represents a lot of people in the Arab world who don’t have a voice.”…..”We chose Arabic because it is our language. There is an attack on our culture so we made it a point to use Arabic. Not choosing English was a conscious decision.”….”However, we also make sure we make quality music so people can enjoy it even though they may not follow the lyrics.”…see more.
Boikutt ramallah Underground Palestine
Boikutt and Aswatt.
  The Israeli Arabic Hip Hop band “Dam” (Israel) take part in a documentary film at the” Palestinian hip-hop doc premieres at Sundance” ((AFP). Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008)  I quote,…” The Palestinian hip-hop group DAM [Mahmoud Jreri, Tamer Nafar, Suhell Nafarw] .. has spawned a cult following and a small army of imitators, stars in a new film about the underground music scene in the Middle East, which premiered on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. “Slingshot Hip Hop,” by director Jackie Salloum, offers a peek into contemporary life in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”…see more.
Dam hip hop Israel
  Quoting from an interview:
..”Q: Are you getting any Israeli support?
Jrere: Israel now is right-wing so it’s always the minority that supports you. No one plays us on the radio, we don’t have television… we don’t have people who support art or artists. The album that you saw took us five years to complete.
Q: Have the CDs been selling well?
Tamer: It’s not just the first Palestinian hip-hop album; it’s the first Palestinian album in all ways. It’s been selling in America and Europe but we are having terrible problems getting it to the Arabic world and the Israeli market because to the Israelis we are Arabs, and to the rest of the Arab world we are Israelis. So we’re caught in the middle.”..see more.
 The …”Members of DAM (which means immortal in Arabic, blood in Hebrew, and stands for Da Arabian MCs in Brooklyn-English) might officially be considered “Arabic citizens of Israel,” since they come from the town Lud about ten miles from Tel Aviv, but they strongly identify as Palestinian. In one song they initiated a call and response with the audience, repeating the lyrics, “DAM jayeem/Min falestin” (DAM is coming/We are from Palestine). They also performed their hit “Meen Er Habi” (Who’s the Terrorist) while the majority of the audience sang along.”…see more.
Dam Mhamoud Jreri
Mhamoud Jreri
  …”Our city, Lod, is considered the biggest drug market in the Middle East. You can get everything here – including weed and cocaine,” says Tamer Nafer, lead rapper of the group”….
…”Despite not having a formal recording contract, DAM’s 2001 single “Meen Erhabe? – Who’s the Terrorist? – was downloaded more than a million times from their website. The group has also delivered their message outside Israel and the Palestinian territories on four European tours.”,,,
  …”DAM’s  single “Born Here” is in Hebrew and they are hoping they can bring the Palestinian message to an Israeli audience. “Arabs already know how they live – we have to educate Israelis on what’s going on.”…see more.
DAM Suhell Nafar
Shuhell Nafar
Dam Tamer Nafar
Tamer Nafar
  Seeking for a representative rapper from the Gaza Strip I found Mohammed Alfarra and learned by the same token on the difficulties of those musicians to perform their music.
  I quote…” Mohammed Alfarra is a rapper from Gaza who  at the Sundance Film Festival is promoting “Slingshot Hip Hop,” a documentary about Palestinian musicians…”He did not expect to perform alone on stage Monday but officials in Gaza detained his band mates and prohibited them from traveling to Park City. ‘They are stuck in Gaza. They couldn’t go out because all the borders were closed,’ Alfarra said in an interview”…” Even Robert Redford and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote letters asking that officials allow the musicians to attend the festival”…see more.
Palestinian Mohammed Alfarra
  A further quote …”Al-Farra released his first solo album, Ana Jeet (I have arrived) in 2006. It’s a reflection of everyday life in Gaza Strip like living under military occupation, issues within the Arab society, Love, and Argele (Hookah). He’s one of the main artists featured in the documentary Slingshot Hip Hop which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.”….see more.
  A last word on Hip Hop, Palestinians youths in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, (I quote)..”can listen to a one-and-a-half minute song on their mobile phones slamming both Fatah and Hamas. The producer of the song refused to reveal his identity for fear of both movements.The new song uses rap music, it demands Palestinian leaders to either solve their problems or leave the Palestinian people alone.’Either you solve it or leave us… Government and presidency have aroused the fire of dispute… Oh Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian people are suffering from the civil war.’The song derides the Palestinian rival parties and says that their dispute revolved around power rather than Palestinian interests.” see more
 As an afterthought, it seems to me that the Arabic Hi Hop scene is different from the western Hip Hop scene in that the Hip Hop performing format (song,words, dance, gesticulation,) made it possible for the Arabic performers to express their real feelings about the ongoing human crisis between Israel Palestine and now between the Hamas and the Fatah, without falling into an uncontrolled aggressiveness. So, more people will like their songs in Israel and outside Israel. There a few commentators seeing in their shows a disguised propaganda agenda, but this is the usual rhetoric on everything. Anyway “propaganda” through music is better than trough violence… they have the talent.