Independence Day Wasn't on West Bank

Palestinians Left With Little To Celebrate From Bid

By Nathan Jeffay

Published November 17, 2011, issue of November 25, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It was Independence Day on the West Bank, an annual commemoration of the fruitless Declaration of Independence proclaimed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Algiers on November 15, 1988. Even though she got a day off from her job, Riham Rabiya wasn’t celebrating.

Zafer Al-Rimawi, a Ramallah economist, and his children.
Nathan Jeffay
Zafer Al-Rimawi, a Ramallah economist, and his children.

“We’re celebrating Independence Day, but there’s no independence,” the 52-year-old secretary complained. “To tell the truth, I forget about the holiday.” Rabiya fears that the Palestinians’ more recent current statehood bid will be no more effective.

Chatting as she made her way back home in the central West Bank town of Birzeit after a shopping trip, she said she was “really excited” when the Palestinian bid began in September but now she doubts that it will lead to statehood.

The sense of an opportunity slipping away is widespread across the West Bank. At the Kalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem, a disheveled banner unintentionally sums up the pessimism. It says, “The right of return is never.”

The word “negotiable” that used to complete the sentence on the banner has faded away, as has the enthusiasm that once existed for the Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid. “Everybody was very enthusiastic for creating a Palestinian state,” said camp elder Fuad Kader, 84. “I was sure that [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas was going to go all the way.”

Now he believes that his expectations were misplaced. “I don’t think anything will happen, as everything is in the hands of the Americans and the Americans don’t want a state — Israel is controlling the Americans.”

Wisam Salymeh, a 38-year-old electrician, predicted that the bid “won’t change anything in the world of reality.” He said that things will “go from bad to worse” — though he does not predict violence, as Palestinians are “too tired for an intifada.”

Hamas supporter Muhammed Asad, a 48-year-old minibus driver, thinks that the diplomatic track was a mistake from the start. “When there was violence in Gaza, Israel withdrew themselves like dogs,” he said. “Israel only understands the laws of force.”

To Asad, the Ramallah-based P.A., which is behind the statehood bid, is an irrelevance: “We have a Palestinian saying the wedding is in Nablus and the people clap in celebration in Ramallah.”

In Ramallah, the P.A. is working hard to dispel this kind of skepticism. Close to the trendiest shops in the city center, a huge chair towers above pedestrians. It is a model of a United Nations chair to symbolize the U.N. seat that the P.A. still hopes to secure. But many are unswayed.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.