Rawabi, city of the future: Palestinian nation-building in Zone A

 

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Traveling around Israel and the Palestinian Territories of the West Bank, it is easy to become cynical, sad, and sometimes even angry. We met an Israeli settler from a Binyamin vineyard in the West Bank who believes in maintaining the occupation for 50 more years; we met representatives from ‘Breaking the Silence’ and B’tselem; we met the Palestinian Christian mayor of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem (an educated and well-spirited man who will soon leave for the USA like so many Palestinians); and we heard the Imam of Al-Aqsa mosque deny the irrefutable and ancient link of the Jews to the same site- the Temple Mount – the very site he was standing on.

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So why this picture, why this place? This amphitheater is in Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city in Zone A of the West Bank. 250 families already live here, interest comes from all corners of the Palestinian Territories and diaspora, as well as from young interns from universities like ours.

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The Rawabi representatives we met did not accuse, they did not lament, they did not cast blame. They are grateful for Israel’s help in supplying them with necessary resources, and they are grateful for the support of many young Israelis. They did not talk about what they cannot do, but showed us what they can – solar panels on houses, a soon to be soccer stadium, an outdoor shopping mall, a center for high-tech start-ups, a Church for Christians and a mosque for Muslims.

These people had charisma, ambition, love for their people, and an undeniable level of craziness in devotion to a project far greater than themselves.

In other words – they have the same drive and the same ingredients of many Diaspora Jews who returned here since the 1880s to build Israel for their people…

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