IT’S ROMNEY THAT’S CULTURALLY DEPRIVED, NOT PALESTINE

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Palestinian development of all kinds is severely hindered by the Israeli occupation. Yet Palestinians have not given up. Palestine has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. Our youth continue to graduate from our universities, opening businesses and gaining skills. Our private sector innovates and grows.

All of this is happening on the 22 percent of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza. If Romney had any historical perspective, he would dispose of his racist judgments about Palestinian culture and instead imagine our potential without Israel’s imposed hindrances.

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The Palestine Romney doesn’t know

By Zahi Khouri

I am a proud American. I am a hardworking businessman and job creator. I am a faithful Christian.

And I am Palestinian.

Much as my multiple identities might drive Mitt Romney to head scratching, it is he who needs a lesson in, to borrow his recent words, “culture and a few other things.”

Were he to spend a day with me in the Holy Land, I could take him to the Jerusalem neighborhood where my family home has stood for five centuries. I could show him the orange trees in Jaffa that my family helped introduce to the world in the 1930s.

That’s right: Jaffa oranges are a Palestinian, not Israeli, trademark. Yet like so many “cultural” markers claimed by the self-professed Jewish state, even the fruit trees my people have tended for centuries have been expropriated.

Romney might be duped into thinking that oranges, falafel and hummus — staples of Palestinian cuisine for generations — are Israeli products. But how dare he claim that a state built at the expense of another people’s history and accomplishments is guided by “the hand of providence”?

Israel did not make the desert bloom. Instead, thanks to a deal struck with the British viceroys of Mandate Palestine, it made away with a land, a set of institutions and, indeed, a culture that was not its own.

It did so at the expense of my people. Like more than three-quarters of Palestine’s population, my family was forced to leave this land after Israel’s creation in 1948. Even though we had to abandon our successful businesses and centuries-old homes, however, we did not become the “uncultured” victims that Romney’s caricature suggests.

Most of us went to other Arab countries, where Palestinians became known for our business acumen and management know-how, and helped to build nascent private and public sectors. Ask our fellow Arabs in Lebanon, Jordan or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region and they will tell you: Palestinian culture, with its premium on education and hard work, has been a force for hope, development and prosperity.

Despite their circumstances, Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation share the same culture and proudly claim the same remarkable achievements. I, for one, returned to Palestine in 1993 to launch the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in the West Bank. It was granted a Best Country Bottling Operation award in May by Coca-Cola, a testament to my colleagues’ ingenuity and determination. But these traits alone cannot overcome the stifling effects of Israel’s occupation.

If Romney got one thing right, it’s that Israelis far outdo Palestinians in net wealth. In fact, his estimates of the disparity were too conservative: Israel’s per capita gross domestic product is roughly $32,000 to the Palestinians’ $1,500.

Remarkably, that $1,500 figure is roughly half of what Palestinians claimed in 1993, when the Oslo accords were signed. In other words, the U.S.-sponsored peace process has made us poorer.

How is that possible?

Palestinians have no say in our economic development. Every resource — water, land, soil, minerals, airspace, humans — is controlled and commandeered by Israel, which then deigns to sell us back a small portion.

In the West Bank, for example, Israeli settlers consume on average 4.3 times the amount of water as Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley alone, some 9,000 settlers in Israeli agricultural settlements use one-quarter the amount of water consumed by the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, about 2.5 million people.

Palestinians have no control over our borders. This means we cannot import or export without being subject to discriminatory measures by our occupier. It also means that, without Israeli permission, we cannot hire experts to enhance our employees’ skills or send employees for overseas training.

Worse, we are restricted within the territories ostensibly under our “control.” At any given time, there are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks and other barriers to movement within the occupied West Bank — an area smaller than Delaware — hindering Palestinians and their goods from moving between their own towns and cities and the outside world.

Palestinian development of all kinds is severely hindered by the Israeli occupation. Yet Palestinians have not given up. Palestine has one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. Our youth continue to graduate from our universities, opening businesses and gaining skills. Our private sector innovates and grows.

All of this is happening on the 22 percent of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza. If Romney had any historical perspective, he would dispose of his racist judgments about Palestinian culture and instead imagine our potential without Israel’s imposed hindrances.

 

 

Written FOR

14 Comments

  1. Blake said,

    August 11, 2012 at 21:33

    People like Mr Kouri I look up to and admire. Proud, decent, humble and respectful even to those who kick them when they are down.

  2. Toodledoo said,

    August 12, 2012 at 06:31

    “Palestinian development of all kinds is severely hindered by the Israeli occupation.”

    You surely mean the re-establishment of Palestine as it was prior to the Zionist invasion?

    The historical record that has avoided destruction is testament to the bustling Palestinian multi-cultural society and cities that existed prior to the religious extremists systematic, murderous, terror rampage through the country, driving people from their own homes and land. .

    Palestine was destroyed so Israel could be created. That is a fundamental historical fact.

  3. George said,

    August 12, 2012 at 10:47

    Please enlighten me. I believe before the creation or Israel te Britsh ruled Palestine and before that the Ottoman’s ruled for hundreds of years. Please tell me when the last Palestian Arab government ran the country and/or when the “Palestinian people” last attempted to take control of “their country” pre 1948? Muslims and Christians have only been around about 2000 years so who do these modern day “Palestians” derive from?

    Thanks

  4. desertpeace said,

    August 12, 2012 at 11:45

    George, if you become a regular reader of this Blog you just might find the answers you are looking for.

  5. Blake said,

    August 12, 2012 at 16:15

    @ Toodledoo: They did not destroy every village and moved into Palestnian homes in the cities. Zionists got a ready made state (minus 80%+ of the indigenous population they ethnically cleansed out using Rothschild funded illegal immigrant terrorist gangs). After it self declared itself in ancestral Palestine on 15th May 1948 they took existing structure as it was in that all existing institutions continued to operate whether banking, political or municipal.

  6. Blake said,

    August 12, 2012 at 16:17

    George: Just because Islam & Christianity have only been around for 2000 years does not mean the people have only been around for that long in the land of Palestine. The vast majority of Palestinians, who had their own religion but whom we would deem “pagans”, are as indigenous as can be.

  7. Blake said,

    August 12, 2012 at 16:43

    George is a paid up agent from hasbara no doubt.

  8. Harry said,

    August 12, 2012 at 16:48

    Hey George: one of the best sites for a comprehensive history of the region is: IfAmericansOnlyKnew.org. Provides a pretty good overview of the history. Enlightening.

  9. Redpossum said,

    August 12, 2012 at 17:25

    Where do they derive from? Well, George, according to DNA testing, they derive from the same ancestors your people derive from. That’s right, Modern Jews and Palestinians share the exact same 11-14% descent from the tribes of ancient Israel and Judea.

    You say the land is yours because your god gave it to your ancestors? Well, according to that logic, your god gave it to the ancestors of the Palestinians, too. Because your ancestors and their ancestors are one and the same. The Palestinians are your cousins, George.

    Furthermore, as a pagan, I could say that your Jewish faith has only been around for 5000 years. We were there first. Jerusalem/Al Quds was a pagan town for 1000-1200 years before your King David conquered it. For that matter, the proto-semitic peoples were pagans before they hooked up with YHWH. So, how does it feel being talked down to like that? Enjoying a taste of your own medicine?

  10. Redpossum said,

    August 12, 2012 at 17:25

    bah, comment didn’t post…

  11. desertpeace said,

    August 12, 2012 at 17:29

    shhh …. yes it did

  12. Toodledoo said,

    August 12, 2012 at 22:40

    80% of Israeli Jews are direct descendants of East Europeans and ‘Jews’ did not exist until the 11th Century. The word Jew was not introduced into the English language Bible until the 17th Century, where it has since systematically replaced original words such as Israelite, Levite, Judean etc. etc., any person can check this out at a library.

    There is not one single shred of evidence, archaeological or contemporaneous, that supports the myths of Solomon and David. According to all available archaeological evidence The Wailing Wall is Roman and dates from AD40.

  13. Maurice Cabana-Proulx said,

    August 13, 2012 at 14:26

    Zahi Khouri’s article is excellent. Thanks Steve.

  14. Redpossum said,

    August 13, 2012 at 17:05

    Oops, sorry!

    I have *got* to stop letting people like George spin me up that badly. I just get sooooooo infuriated by the sheer arrogance, especially when they’re just parroting Pam Geller and the Jerusalem Post, like some trained parakeet.


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