Recent college graduate Reem Qadan is exactly the kind of young, energetic West Bank resident the Palestinian Authority hopes will hit the streets this week when it makes its historic case for U.N. membership and statehood recognition.So when we see the Western media breathlessly report about huge rallies in the territories this week, remember that all public employees and many schools are taking holiday just to inflate the numbers. Popular support is tepid at best, even in the Fatah stronghold of Ramallah!
But rather than use her Facebook page to coordinate plans with friends to join the rallies, the 21-year-old is posting critical messages dismissing the United Nations bid as a “tale of collective mismanagement” by Palestinian leaders. Many of her Facebook friends echoed the sentiments and said they planned to skip the rallies.
In stark contrast with the flurry of diplomacy and international attention being focused on the U.N. campaign, the mood so far on the streets of the West Bank is surprisingly apathetic and sometimes even a little hostile.
“People simply don’t care,” Qadan said.
Critics said it was unrealistic to expect Palestinians — who have been disappointed by failed peace initiatives many times — to suddenly embrace the U.N. bid. But that hasn’t stopped the Palestinian Authority from launching an aggressive campaign to change that.
The authority recently distributed thousands of Palestinian flags and urged everyone to put them on their homes and cars as a sign of support. So far, only a few can be seen in the streets of Ramallah. Even government vehicles are not flying the flags.
Giant rallies have been scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.
To ensure a good turnout, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called upon members of his Fatah movement, the largest political faction in the West Bank, to attend. About 80,000 government workers will be given time off, and some schools will closed. Thousands of Palestinians are expected to take part in the rallies.
(h/t Challah Hu Akbar)