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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A question of dignity

Ma'an reports:
The Palestinian Authority is working in full swing to make sure no laborers will be working in Israeli settlements by the end of 2011, PA Minster of National Economy Hasan Abu Libda said Tuesday.

“There are currently 25,000 Palestinians who make their living from working in Israeli settlements. They should stop as they aren’t any different from 200,000 other unemployed workers,” Abu Libda said in an interview with Ma'an.

“Even though Palestinian law prohibits work in Israeli settlements, we know that a large number of people left their jobs and have gone to work in settlements,” he said, urging laborers to “work out another solution.”

Asked what alternatives those 25,000 workers could expect to find, the minister said there were 200,000 others out of work and that in seven months, the PA would take action to protect national interests by completely stopping all economic relations with settlements.

In no country in the world is the unemployment rate zero, and so long as Israel continues to discourage the Palestinian national economy, the only alternative is to get citizens to consume national products,” Abu Libda explained. Only 18 percent of consumption in Palestine is national products, he explained, and if the PA can raise this rate to 40 percent, that will provide 50-60,000 jobs.

With regard to quality and competitiveness of national products, “Work is ongoing with the private sector to provide budgets to improve the quality of products and in a couple of weeks or months, there will be a noticeable improvement in quality of Palestinian national products, he said. “Once they improve, consumers will trust national products, and they will eventually be able to compete with Israeli products.”
This is going to be very interesting.

The vast majority of Arabs want dignity. Dignity means supporting your family with honor.

Dignity is the reason why the Arab boycott of the 1930s was such a spectacular failure, even though it is now considered "The Great Revolt" by people who try to manufacture Palestinian Arab history. Arabs who hated the Jews killed hundreds of Arabs who just wanted to keep their jobs and raise their families by cooperating with those same Jews.

Dignity is also the reason that so many Palestinian Arabs moved to Kuwait and other Gulf countries in the 1950s and 1960s - so they could get jobs, make money and live semi-normal lives (while being forced to remain stateless by the Arab League.) It is the reason that so many have moved to the West.

In many ways, the Arabs who stayed behind in camps were the lazy ones who preferred UNRWA handouts to their own dignity, and in that way the Palestinian Arab psyche has slowly changed from the most dynamic of the Arabs to a welfare mentality where the world owes them everything.

Now we have a clash between personal dignity and an imposed "national" dignity. The question is, which will win?

History so far has shown that ordinary Palestinian Arabs have traditionally placed their own welfare above that of their illusory nation, but 60 years of an externally imposed national culture - combined with the slow change from a people who care about their personal dignity to a people who feel a sense of entitlement - may have changed that.

The PA is officially telling tens of thousands of its gainfully employed citizens that they must plan to quit the jobs that provide them with their dignity, with the nebulous promise that other jobs will magically appear (propped up with Western money, of course.) This is on top of the thousands of newly unemployed Palestinian Arabs who are suffering from the ten-month building freeze in the territories.

The question is - what will the remaining dignified Arabs do in response?

Incidentally, it seems that the statement that "Palestinian law prohibits work in Israeli settlements" is not currently true, as the article goes on to say:
For his part, PA Minister of Labor Ahmad Majdalani asserted that nothing in Palestinian law prohibited work in settlements. However, workers should stop on their own free will for moral and political reasons, Majdalani told Ma'an. In any case, Palestinian law prohibits only the import of settlement products, he said.
Which means that a PA minister doesn't even know the law of his quasi-country.