Palestine Prepares for Statehood – Part 1
April 17, 2011 7 Comments
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.
It 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.
Moving 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.
But 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.