New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is in the West Bank city of Ramallah, lapping up the wonders of a more open and liberated occupied territory:
For Palestinians, long trapped between burgeoning Israeli settlements and an Israeli occupation army, subject to lawlessness in their own cities and the fecklessness of their own political leadership, life has clearly started to improve a bit, thanks to a new virtuous cycle: improved Palestinian policing that has led to more Palestinian investment and trade that has led to the Israeli Army dismantling more checkpoints in the West Bank that has led to more Palestinian travel and commerce.
Because the West Bank today is largely hidden from Israelis by a wall, Israelis are just starting to learn from their own press what is going on there. On July 31, many Israelis were no doubt surprised to read this quote in the Maariv daily from Omar Hashim, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Nablus, the commercial center of the West Bank: “Traders here are satisfied,” said Hashim. “Their sales are rising. They feel that life is returning to normal. There is a strong sense of optimism.”
During my recent visit to Bethlehem, I wrote about the attempts by many Western journalists and Fatah politicians to white-wash the occupation. This quote still rings true:
“Israel is always trying to make it look as though the occupation has ended, rather than actually ending it”, said Nablus resident Farouq al-Masri.