Impoverished Palestinians build 5-story mall in Jenin

Posted: June 21, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Palestinians, West Bank

Palestinians walk past shops in Jenin, West Bank

SOME HAPPY NEWS brings us Left-wing Haaretz – and I truly mean that. According to a recent report, Palestinian entrepreneurs opened a five story, $5 million, mall in former terror capital of Jenin, West Bank. The mall, filled with luxury items, seems out of place on such scene, yet, the people behind the construction believe it will succeed:

"It may sound mad to outsiders," says the chain’s CEO, Ziad Turabi, "but to us it makes perfect sense. We believe we can make a very handsome profit. Many people in the occupied territories have money but they have nowhere to spend it if they’re after quality. We offer them the best quality there is."

This may not sound like the familiar description of the occupied territories – the impoverished Palestinian village or the overcrowded refugee camp, a population sustaining itself on international aid. But it turns out that quite a few Palestinians consider a plasma screen, a surround sound stereo and comfortable chairs to be fairly essential items.

I believe there are both good and bad news about such project. First and foremost, it is great that some Palestinians stand strong and earn enough money to allow themselves luxury. Obviously, they are a minority; yet, it might show us prospect for future Palestinian generations in West Bank – unlike their peers in HAMAS-controlled Gaza.

On the other hand, I believe such malls clearly reflect the class divisions among Palestinians, with all the charm of capitalism – poor (a majority) stay poor, while rich (a minority) stay rich.

This article, also points out to apparent cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis, by stating that most products sold in Hirbawi Home Center are imported through Ashdod sea port – located in Israel.

While such developments do call for cautious joy, only years will tell if this calm and prospect of prosperity will reach entire West Bank.

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