Along with the $3B+ that the US gives to Israel annually, Palestine receives money for projects funded by our tax dollars. In fact much of Palestine is supported by us, the Europeans and Canada. Even many mosques are funded by Saudi money.
Palestine is more like a 3rd world country, rather than an emerging economy. The infrastructure is feeble, the building projects take half a lifetime and utilities are at the mercy of Israel’s manipulation. Even the once flowing water wells have ben confiscated by the settlements, so that Palestinians can fill their roof top water tanks only twice a week and hope that is enough to last and that refills aren’t halted as collective punishment. Again, being an occupied country, you are at the whim of the occupier.
Palestine, especially the area around Bethlehem, due to its many NGOs and initiatives sponsored by local and US Christian churches, is a gathering place for many internationals, especially students who are volunteering for a month or the summer. Here at this coffee shop, I’ve had the privilege to have many conversations with locals and foreigners.
I met a 3-generation family, coming for a Ramadan vacation, who originated from the Galilee area of Palestine, were forced out in 1948, moved to Jordan, then Denmark. The dad, a police officer, his wife and children are here visiting for the first time. A young Slovenian volunteers here to bolster her acceptance for a Middle Eastern studies degree in Britain. I met a young Palestinian who started his own business and was quite critical of Prime Minister Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, saying they produce little results and line their pockets. Countless Americans, Brits, Germans and Swiss make their appearance. Many come to learn, to see, as the world comes to understand that there is a narrative different from what they have been media fed.
You can imagine that this support may be received by some Palestinians as gratuitous, unappreciated for being superficial, a bit like a tourist throwing a dollar at a homeless person on Van Ness, believing they are solving the problem. Perhaps the point is less about making a difference while here than raising awareness and making a political difference when returning home. Rather than giving a man a fish, or teaching a man to fish, make sure the lake isn’t toxic, is well stocked with fish and the freedom to fish is assured.
Oh, and we heard a missile blast tonight around 7pm. Hamas, if it came from Gaza, is not renowned for top shelf products or accuracy!