Palestine Prepares for Statehood – Part 1

Hiba, a young university student in Ramallah dominates the conversation with dreams of her country’s future, and confidence her generation will build a new nation that is equal to any other in the world.  This is the new Palestine.  A Palestine that shifts memories of invasion, occupation, and repression to the side, focusing valuable energy on building a new nation.

Renewel Projects in Old RamallahIt is easy for visitors to appreciate Hiba’s enthusiasm.  Walking on any street within Ramallah is a challenge.  Not because the streets are bad, rather because the city is in a constant state of construction.

A few short years ago Ramallah was still putting the pieces back together from destruction due to invasion and conflict.  Today energy is directed to the new Ramallah – one that is beginning to take on impressions of a mix of European cities with the rich culture and history of Palestine.

The Palestine State

Recently the United Nations reported that Palestine was ready for statehood, with a target of September 2011.  For those who have lived their lives in an independent country, this is a difficult idea to comprehend.

Imagine if California was culturally and socially an independent state, occupied by the Confederate States of North America for the past 50 years.  As a Californian, you cannot have a passport, become a citizen of the occupying country, travel freely, determine which city you want to live in, or even which radio or television stations you would like to watch.

The Wall Separating Israel and PalestineMoving between villages and cities requires you to go through checkpoints, with military sentries who despise you due to your religion and ethnic background.  Sentries who have no moral or ethical problem abusing you, as they do not really consider you an equal human being to those from their country.

Imagine going to school one day, and learning the occupying country has now closed the border between your village and the school you attend, and you cannot return home.

Americans can refer to our own history with Britain, and appreciate the struggles independence and freedom require.  And the cost of freedom in blood, resistance, and commitment to never capitulate.

There are many examples around the world of countries invaded, occupied, and ethnically cleansed.  Cultures that have been diluted or destroyed, and history that is written by the victors of conflict.

However the Palestinians have resisted, fought, and refused to give up their struggle for independence and identity.  And that struggle is nearing and end.  End with the United Nations recognizing the state of Palestine.

That is of course we assume Israel will peacefully allow a transition to Palestinian statehood, which is far from certain.

History Remembered, Future Embraced

Hiba will not forget the days spending 6 hours in checkpoints each day going to and from school.  She will never forget interrogations by military patrols, and watching as homes of friends were plowed under to accommodate expansion of Israeli settlements into the West Bank.

Yassar ArafatBut today Hiba is more interested in being exposed to new ideas, new ways of thinking, or how she can apply her knowledge to building a nation, and better quality of life, for her family and children.  Not unlike any American or European student’s vision and dream.

Trained as a software engineer, Hiba outlines her ideas on how to bring an aggressive entrepreneurial spirit to Palestine, particularly related to agricultural and services industries.  How she can make contact with expatriate Palestinians, both learning from their successes – as well as attracting their investment money to further develop economic capacities in the country.

The Youth Are An Inspiration

Students discussing their future cannot hold back enthusiasm and vision.  How can young people put aside their bitterness, memories, and hatred of an occupation aside so easily?  Are they simply tired of the anger and hatred?

Difficult to say.  When pressed, Palestinians can get very worked up on the emotional topic of Israeli occupation, settlement expansion, and human rights.

Then the moment will pass, and energy is refocused on the present, and opportunities for the future.

===

This article is the first of a series on Ramallah 2011, and the road to Palestine statehood.  The next segment will discuss what Palestinians want Americans to know about their country, people, and future.

Your comments and ideas about Palestine, Israel, and independence are welcome.

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

7 Responses to Palestine Prepares for Statehood – Part 1

  1. david singer says:

    Anything the UN tries to do will be meaningless and of no legal effect. The provisions of the Montevideo Convention preclude any recognition of a Palestinian State within the 1949 armistice lines without Israel’s consent. There is no substitute for direct negotiations being resumed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to determine the sovereignty of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – or failing the breakdown of those negotiations then between Israel and Jordan.

    • johnsavageau says:

      Sadly, that is probably true. Distressing to believe the fate of a culture and society could be determined by those who have economic or political motives behind their actions.

      However this is not limited to Palestine. The Kurds, Hmong, Mongolians (in China), and others suffer the same fate as Palestine.

      I do find it difficult to explain this to a 6 year old, watching a movie showing life in Paris, Hong Kong, or Montreal where the quality of life, freedoms enjoyed by the citizens, and freedom to travel as desired are shown – and try to explain why a child in Palestine may never have any of those freedoms.

      Perhaps there is no answer, however I will continue recording my experiences and impressions of Palestine (and other countries), allowing others to interpret or explain those snapshots in time.

  2. Savannah says:

    If the people you mistakenly call “Palestinians” are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over — or thrown out of — the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?

    I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day “Palestinians” to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won’t work here.

    • johnsavageau says:

      I believe Palestinians probably have equal justification for self-determination as Americans.

      We Americans are also a generic collection of races representing the planet, having chosen North American or having been thrown out of our native lands.

      As a pure-blooded French/Irish/Norwegian/Canadian/Native American myself, I would be hard-pressed to allow another “pure” group to dislodge me from my home in California.

      I would urge you to consider Palestinians as what they are, rather than lumping them into a “generic collection of Arabs.” What a demeaning, violent attitude to take with other human beings!

  3. david singer says:

    To johnsavageau

    Your rant against savannah is misplaced.

    Article 1 of the PLO Charter article confirms savannah’s comment when stating:
    “Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation”.

    • johnsavageau says:

      David – hardly a rant. As I recall walking along the streets of Ramallah, the city is well sprinkled with Orthodox churches, Quaker churches, and other non-Arab peoples.

      Now I could ask the question – what is your point? Should Israelis (many of whom are immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia, etc) be in a decision-making position over the fate of Palestinians, whether or not you actually believe there are a Palestinian people?

      Now I will be very open – I am not a Palestinian or Israeli. I live in a nice comfortable community in California, and just happen to have an occasion to work in many areas which have some level of cultural, religious, or ethnic conflict.

      I record what I see and experience.

      I have no stake in either Israel or Palestine, other than hoping the situation does not suck the world into another global conflict.

      Having spent a fair amount of time in the West Bank, I do have to admit an appreciation for the pain Palestinians endure in their daily lives.

      What is your solution? How do you ensure all residents of the region can live in peace or harmony without fear of assault or displacement?

  4. david singer says:

    To johnsavageau

    Not all Palestinian Arabs are Moslems. Some are Christian and members of those churches you saw. But they are all Arabs – part of the Arab nation as they themselves declare in the PLO Charter.

    There are non- Arab Christians in the Holyland as well but they don’t qualify as Palestinians under the PLO Charter – nor do the Jews.

    Israel is not “in a decision making position over the fate of the Palestinians” as you state.

    Those Arabs living in Israel – are indeed all Israeli citizens subject to Israeli law.

    55% of those Arabs living in the West Bank are under the complete administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority. 41% are under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority who rule their daily lives. Similarly all the Arabs living in Gaza are under the total administrative and security control of Hamas.

    So if there is any pain in their daily lives then perhaps you should be asking the Palestinian authority to explain.

    Maybe if you detail the pain you experienced – I can try and answer you.

    Is it anything like the pain being suffered by their fellow Arabs in Syria or Libya at the moment? Have you voiced your concern at what is going on there?

    What is my solution?

    I believe the best that can be done is to go back as far as possible to restore the status quo that existed at 5 June 1967.

    Jordan then occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Palestinian Arabs living there had opted to unify with Jordan in 1950 rather than press for their own independent state. They became Jordanian citizens and enjoyed that status until 1988.

    The opportunity to create a Palestinian State for the first time in recorded history will not happen again more than 44 years after that opportunity was not taken between 1948-1967.

    Too much water has flown under the bridge since then as 500000 Jews have gone to live in these areas after every Jew living there had been driven out in 1948.

    18 years of trying to create a Palestinian State since 1993 has been an abject failure and there is no reason to believe it can ever happen.

    Dividing sovereignty of the West Bank and east Jerusalem between Jordan and Israel by direct negotiations offers some hope of restoring that 1967 status quo as far as is now possible – albeit Jordan could have still had it all had it not entered the Six Day War against Israel’s warning to it to desist.

    Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 – something unable to be achieved with the PLO, Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

    Redrawing the border between Jordan and Israel – two nations already at peace with each other- should be relatively easy to achieve.

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