Palestinians Oppose Economic Prosperity
May 17, 2019
most normal societies, a businessman who seeks to improve the living conditions
of his people by boosting the economy and creating job opportunities for the
unemployed -- including a host of jobless university graduates -- is treated
with respect. The Palestinians, however, do not seem to belong to those
Jabari is a 45-year-old businessman from the West Bank city of Hebron. A member
of a large Palestinian clan in the city, Jabari believes in economic cooperation
and peaceful coexistence with his Jewish neighbors, including settlers living in
the West Bank.
this year, Jabari and some of his Jewish friends launched a new economic
initiative to advance joint entrepreneurship between Israelis and Palestinians
are working on taking down borders, and both Israelis and Palestinians need to
take part in this," Jabari explained.
"We need to breach this wall. We must first create good links and good
relationships not just in the West Bank, but all over Israel so we can achieve
our desired goal."
advance his goal, Jabari recently announced the establishment of a new
party that calls for focusing on economic prosperity for Palestinians:
Reform and Development Party, he said, seeks to solve the economic problems of
the Palestinians, including high unemployment. "We have an army of
university graduates who are unemployed," he said. "We've reached a
situation where a young [Palestinian] man holding a Master's degree in law has
to work as a street vendor because he can't find work."
would expect a message like that to be welcomed by Palestinians. Here is a man
who is talking about helping his people put food on their tables. Here is a man
who is saying: "Let's put aside our political differences and focus on ways
of achieving economic stability for our people."
of giving Jabari a chance to carry out his initiative, Palestinians have waged a
massive smear campaign
against him, with many denouncing him as a "traitor" and
"collaborator" with Israel and Jews. Some Palestinians have even gone
as far as calling
for his arrest or execution.
campaign against the Palestinian businessman reached its peak on May 13, after
at his home several Jews for the Ramadan break-the-fast meal, Iftar. It is not
unusual for Muslims to host non-Muslims for the Iftar meal. In this instance,
however, Jabari seems to have invited the "wrong" guests: Jews.
soon as photos of the Ramadan meal appeared in various media outlets, many angry
to social media to voice their strong condemnation of Jabari.
the face of the widespread protests and resentment, Jabari's clan was forced
publicly to denounce and disown him. "Ashraf Jabari is a criminal, and he
doesn't enter the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories," said
Arif Rubin Jabari, a leader of the clan. "Our family already disowned this
fraud back in 2002. He doesn't represent anyone from our clan or Hebron."
clan leader further claimed
that Israel was "using Jabari to carry out its suspicious schemes against
Palestinians." He called on Palestinian Authority officials to "study
Israel's attempt to give prominence to Jabari by presenting him as an
alternative to the current Palestinian leadership."
clan's public denunciation of Jabari, however, has failed to placate many
Palestinians, who are now calling for severely punishing the him for his words
Palestinian news website Wattan, based in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the
for bringing Jabari to trial for treason. "The [Palestinian] security
services must act immediately to arrest him," Wattan said in an article
published on its website.
to Article 135 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of the PLO (1979), the punishment
for treason is prison with hard labor. The law states that anyone who offers
accommodation, food or clothes to an enemy soldier or a spy or helps him escape,
should be punished. Dozens of spies have already been punished in accordance
with this law. Article 140 of the same law stipulates the death sentence for
anyone who serves as an informant for the enemy. Indeed, many spies have been
from the reactions
of the Palestinians, they are angry with Jabari mainly for two reasons: engaging
in "normalization" with Israelis and promoting the idea of
"economic peace." The Palestinians' "anti-normalization"
movement is strongly opposed to any form of relations with Israel -- including
sports and cultural events. Now, it seems that they are even opposed to seeing
Palestinians and Jews eating together.
offended many Palestinians because he dared to invite his Jewish friends to the
Ramadan meal at his home.
his talk about "economic prosperity" for Palestinians has turned him
into a public enemy. How dare the man discuss seeking ways to improve the living
conditions of his people and create jobs for the unemployed?
the eyes of many Palestinians, the struggle against Israel should be paramount,
even if they have to eat and drink that struggle instead of the food they could
buy through engaging in economic initiatives such as those proposed by Jabari.
Jabari joined Hamas or Islamic Jihad, or one of the anti-Israel organizations in
the West Bank, he would have been idolized. Had he called for boycotting Israel
rather than working -- and eating -- with them, he would have been lauded among
his people and his clan.
light of the uproar sparked by the Palestinian businessman's actions and
statements, it is safe to assume that his new party will never succeed in
winning the hearts and minds of Palestinians. It's also hard to see how any of
the economic enterprises he's talking about will ever materialize.
unprecedented campaign of hate and intimidation against Jabari comes weeks
before the US administration rolls out its long-awaited plan for peace in the
Middle East, also known as the "deal of the century."
upcoming peace plan, according to various reports,
talks about giving the Palestinians billions of dollars and raising money for
them from wealthy Arab countries. Yet, as Jabari's case makes clear, the
Palestinians are less invested in gaining economic stability than they are in
Palestinians, the financial aid is a cynical attempt to lure them away from
their struggle against Israel -- and no Palestinian leader has the stomach to
face the threats that Jabari is currently confronting. So, far from any
"deal of the century," the Palestinian leaders long ago struck a dirty
deal of their own: they put their stock in Israel-hatred rather than in their