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Israel and Palestine: Robbed of Dreams

The Al-Quds students did not dwell on these political issues, but they did mention that Israeli firms have been contracted to take part in the construction of Rawabi. Even worse, in some Palestinian eyes, the developer, Bashar Masri, has accepted a donation from the Jewish National Fund of three thousand tree saplings, as a “green contribution.” One blogger denounced these as “damned Zionist trees.”

But it gets even more complicated. If Palestinians have doubts, so do Israeli settlers, who have staged demonstrations against the project and tried to disrupt its construction. Rawabi is a “threat to security,” they claim. Rawabi is a step toward building a Palestinian state. Rawabi, they say, will cause pollution, traffic jams, and much else. What the settlers really can’t stand is that Rawabi will be towering over them. Before Rawabi, Israeli settlements, illegal according to international law, always towered over the Palestinians.

The students of Al-Quds argued back and forth, the women more vociferously than the men. In the end, they remained ambivalent. There was no absolutely right answer, no solution that would suit everyone. That they were clearly aware of this, and continued arguing, left me with a sliver of hope amid the melancholy of a country slowly being torn apart by people whose claims are never anything but absolute.

—March 8, 2011

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