Cheers to the Pragmatics of the Middle East
The Middle East is no stranger to big ideas. As the birthplace of the Abrahamic religions, it’s never struggled with ideologues. Rather, the struggle facing the region is the opposite — a lack of pragmatics. People and nations who are willing to compromise for the greater peace, stability, and prosperity.
While many other fellow Palestinians, think the Abraham Accords as a step back for peace, I think it’s the opposite. It’s the first major move towards peace in the last 100 years since the conflict started. There are certain nuances around the conditions which gave rise to the peace that I think should have been part of a bigger deal/more sensitivity — rather than unilateral US moves (moving the US embassy, annexing Golan, annexing certain settlements of the West Bank, and canceling funding to UNRWA).
While it is regrettable that the Palestinians, vis a vis the Palestinian Authority did not participate in the Abraham Accords, I blame this almost entirely on the Palestinians’ poor negotiation tactics. They rejected Kushner’s original proposal to create the foundations for a Palestinian state offhand — without counter offering. Instead of saying “we like part A, lets change part B to say part C, and we can’t do Part D” — they said “we don’t like this part, so the whole deal is off”. Frankly, the time for these hardball tactics is over, the last century failed to produce any meaningful peace nor Palestinian state, it’s time the Palestinians swallow their pride and do the hardwork of state building, rather than the easy work of rejecting negotiations.
In the words of Lee Kuan Yew — “we cannot live life by the begging bowl”.
While the public sector of Palestine is in a sorry state, I must commend Bashar Masri for creating perhaps the single best example of state building through the private sector. Masri is the founder and creator of Rawabi — the first planned city of Palestine. It features STEM learning, emphasizes women participation in education, concert theaters, luxury shopping, tech companies, and high rise apartments. Some of the criticisms of Rawabi are understandable — your everyday Palestinian growing up in the West Bank cannot afford such extravagances — but others such as “it normalizes the occupation” are simply pathetic. I’ve experienced the poverty of living in the West Bank, and the joy of seeing the big beautiful high tech buildings of Tel Aviv — rather than sit there and feel sorry for ourselves, the Palestinians deserve a symbol for a future. Maybe our generation will never see such prosperity, but riches dont come overnight — they come from a dream. It’s important the children of Palestinian can dream for a future of doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and builders.
Rawabi isn’t and shouldn’t be the end goal for Palestinians. I do not know what the future holds — 1 state — 2 states — or 10 states. I just know that it’s time we focus on pragmatism. It shouldn’t have taken 100 years to build a Rawabi, lets not make the same mistake. The time has come to build institutions, open up the economy, and create public trust with an inspiring message for the future. The time has come to roll up our sleeves, and start building the future we want to see. Cheers to the pragmatics of the Middle East, how few of us there are.