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Real Life in the Heart of Judea-Samaria aka ‘West Bank’

I speak Hebrew, English and pantomime with the Arab customers.
An Arab woman in a headscarf walking past the H. Stern jewelry store at the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.

An Arab woman in a headscarf walking past the H. Stern jewelry store at the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

Never in a million years did I expect to find myself working with Arabs. I’m an extreme Right wing, Jewish woman who made aliyah to Israel with my husband in 1970, and we have been living in Shiloh since 1981. I don’t work in a hospital or some bi-cultural group. Until just under three years ago, I had very, very little contact with Arabs. But for almost three years, I’ve had a simple low-paying sales job in the Yafiz clothing store in the industrial zone, Sha’ar Binyamin, just north of Jerusalem.

Sha’ar Binyamin has guards, but they are just entrusted to check that no terrorists enter with explosives. Unlike industrial zones such as nearby Mishor Adumim, they don’t keep out Arabs who are lacking permits to enter Israel. So Sha’ar Binyamin is the “Israel” all Arabs and their visiting family and friends are welcome to enter.

Sometimes it seems like the only Jews in the store are staff, which is strange, but it’s amazing how quickly I adjusted to it. This happens at certain times which are hard to predict. It’s most common when they are preparing for their holidays. The Arab Muslims dress up in new clothes for their holiday, so we’re sometimes packed. Their villages don’t have fashionable clothing stores, and those who can get to Ramallah usually can’t afford the prices there. Our specialty is children’s clothes. Many Arabs even stock up in Yafiz before the baby is born. And taking foreign guests to Yafiz is like tourists in America going to outlet malls.
popular items at Yafiz

I speak Hebrew, English and pantomime with the Arab customers. Quite a few tell me that they have been in America and miss it. Yafiz reminds them of America. Not long ago, when things were pretty quiet in the store I had a nice talk with a middle-aged Arab woman who spoke American English. She had lived in a large modern American city for a number of years and missed it. She told me that she treasured the time she can spend in Sha’ar Binyamin.

“It’s so peaceful.”

She alluded to the lack of freedom and honesty she feels where she now lives. She has no problems living peacefully with Jews and Israelis. I have no doubt that she knows a lot more about the corruption in the P.A. that Ruthie Blum wrote about this week.

The aim of its report, then, was not to investigate the Palestinians per se. Rather, it was to examine the extent to which the EU has been keeping an eye on how the Palestinians have been utilizing the nearly 2 billion euros transferred to the Gaza Strip and West Bank from Brussels between 2008 and 2012.It should come of no surprise that the EU did not pass inspection on this score. As the report determined, there have been no serious attempts to reduce the risk of “funds [in the hands of the Palestinian Authority] not being used for their intended purpose.”This “intended purpose” was to provide the Palestinian leadership with the money required to reform society and build democratic institutions, towards full-fledged statehood. More specific and immediate needs that have to be met, ostensibly through international funding, include matters like paying the salaries of public-sector employees.Lo and behold, no matter how many millions of euros and dollars flow into the PA, Palestinian society does not reform, democratic institutions are not built, and salaries are not paid. The legacy left by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat is not only that of combining terror with talk of peace as the means to putting an end to the State of Israel, after all. Pocketing foreign cash is another time-honored tradition in Ramallah that carries on unhindered.

Neither of us have any real respect for the political leaders of either side.

In Israel, it’s not about financial corruption. It’s the fact that government leaders refuse to act appropriately according to the obvious fact that the Arabs, the “P.A.” don’t really want peace.

As Netanyahu pointed out, it wasn’t a territorial conflict in the 1920s when anti-Jewish pogroms were initiated or the 1940s when Palestinian leaders embraced Hitler because the Jews didn’t have territory. But all the Palestinians need to get a state alongside Israel is to say they endorse the right to a Jewish state and to renounce the so-called right of return for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Since that is still apparently too much to ask of the PA, what possible hope can there be for the peace talks?
Read more here.

Simple logic should make Israel cease all cooperation with so-called “peace talks,” because they will not result in peace. We must legalize the status quo and recognize that negotiations are not the way to true peace, and if it’s not true peace it’s dangerous, like fake drugs that kill.

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About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.


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