Middle class homes, newer automobiles, steady tourism and a daily flow of residents into Jerusalem were among the things we observed when we enjoyed the rare privilege of being hosted by Palestinian Police Leadership in Bethlehem this past Wednesday as part of our ADL Counter-Terrorism Mission. Although the Christian population is declining within the neighborhood where its religion’s founder was born, there are strong indications that Palestinians in Bethlehem and in similar cities under Palestinian control are taking more responsibility for their future by living, trading, and coordinating alongside their Israeli neighbors.
Mohammed Za’eir says, “I am from the city of Jenin. I want to open a market stall but the municipality isn’t letting me. Why did all the people here get permits? Because they get preferential treatment. All the people who bought from me know that I sell good merchandise, and that I give customers respect. I have four children and I just want to feed them.”
Progress is still fragile, very vulnerable to major ruptures in the security situation. Yet more Rawabi model cities help harvest normalization. Responsibility does indeed seed dignity.
Rabbi William Hamilton
Image: Rabbi Hamilton receives a gift from Colonel Ala Shalabi, Head of Bethlehem Police District