Monday, May 11, 2015

  • Monday, May 11, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Mas-ha, Qarawat Bani Hassan and Biddya are three Arab towns that, according to the conventional wisdom, should be suffering more than most due to the suffocating presence of Jewish settlements surrounding them.

Here is a detail of B'Tselem's map showing the towns as islands of Arab brown among a sea of Jewish blue areas.

Yet today there is an Arabic article in Safa that says that the towns have a zero percent unemployment rate.

The article characterizes the issue as how the towns manage to thrive even though the evil Israelis built their evil apartheid wall (the dotted lines are for barriers that have not been built.)

The towns were commercial centers before the second intifada, and it appears that they used to get lots of Jewish customers to department stores lining their main street during the peaceful Oslo period when blowing up Jews only happened several times a year.

But when the suicide bombings became bad, they lost customers so the town leaders decided to re-orient their economy around manufacturing. Now they are filled with factories making glass, furniture and other goods.

This has caused their land prices to increase tenfold, from 10,000 Jordanian dinars per dunam to 100,000 dinars.

The new manufacturing sites are attracting Arabs from all over the West Bank, and factory owners cannot keep up with the demand for skilled workers. They claim that their wages are comparable to those of Arab workers in Jewish settlements, between 4000-7000 shekels a month.

Here's the kicker.

The business leaders of Qarawat Bani Hassan complain that the Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to help them. On the contrary, they say that they are taxed heavily by the PA  and that they get literally nothing in return.

In fact, they say that the PA looks at them suspiciously. One business owner says that the Ministry of Finance considers successful businessmen to be thieves, sometimes accuse him of tax evasion, and at other times of money laundering.

The only people who seem threatened by the towns' success are the kleptocrats of the Palestinian Authority, and perhaps the NGOs who have little power over using these towns as propaganda against Israel (although they try.)

The story of Mas-ha, Qarawat Bani Hassan and Biddya shows that it isn't settlements that are ruining the economy under PA rule. It is PA rule itself, where jobs are used as political favors and corruption is the norm, where innovation is punished and laziness rewarded.

It also shows that the entire PA strategy isn't for helping their people but instead to do everything they can to demonize and diminish Israel on the world stage.

The people don't matter. "Winning" their zero sum game with Israel is the obsession of the PA, and the people who are abandoned are forced to do what they can in spite of their corrupt leaders.

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