Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ahmed Moor On The West Bank (Part 1)

HP blogger Ahmed "One-State" Moor is back again with his latest blog post: "The Myth of West Bank Prosperity." Wow, really? Because Netanyahu has been making building up the West Bank a big part of his plan to gain peace with the Palestinians. In fact many news articles have been talking about the economic growth and how things are really starting to turn around. But here is Moor to tell us it is all a lie? He must have done some hard-hitting, investigative journalism to come to that conclusion! So let's hear his awesome expose!

Oh wait, no he's just a yellow journalist. He begins his article by sneering at the people who actually believe the West Bank is getting better before busting out his evidence: A report on the West Bank by Save the Children which according to Moor "debunks the prosperity claim." So what does this report say?
"Cairo Arafat helped devise the Palestinian Authority's action plan for children before starting part-time work with Save the Children, and is now a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority. She told Al Jazeera the figures in the report did not reflect the conditions in the West Bank as a whole, but were still a major cause for concern.
"The overall conditions, if you look at health indicators and education indicators, are better than what is normal for the reigion," she said.
"The West Bank had "pockets of poverty," she said, that left around around 10 per cent of the 240,000 children in the territory at risk of ill-health.
"Children living in the poorest parts of the West Bank face significantly worse conditions than their counterparts in Gaza, a study conducted by an international youth charity has found."
So right from the beginning of the report they made it clear that it was not about the West Bank as a whole but was about the poorest sections of it. Mr. Moor actually does address it further down the article but he is still misleading. For instance he claims that, "there are pockets of prosperity in the West Bank." Well according to Ms. Arafat there are "pockets of poverty" in the West Bank too! So which are the pockets and which are not the pockets, Mr. Moor? In case you were wondering, that report is the only evidence he provides to back up his claim that there really is no prosperity in the West Bank.

Now that I have caught Mr. Moor in his distortion, let's take a look through the rest of his article and see how far down he digs himself. In this article I am going to focus on his "West Bank is not prosperous" claim. There is more to be said in the next post.

Further down the page Mr. Moor repeats his claim that "it hasn't worked," and then goes on to provide the exact same link he did last time. He quotes the report:
"children living in the poorest parts of the West Bank face significantly worse conditions than their counterparts in Gaza... with 79 per cent of the communities surveyed lacking sufficient food -- a greater proportion than in blockaded Gaza, where the figure is 61 per cent."
I'm wondering if he is just hoping that we are going to ignore the "poorest parts of the West Bank" part. It's a failed argument because (and as I said before the Al-Jaz report makes clear) this is not representative of the West Bank as a whole. It's a very weak foundation for Mr. Moor's argument, but maybe he can pull himself out of it.
"To be completely fair, there are pockets of prosperity in the West Bank. While 47% of the Palestinians in Ramallah live in poverty, some are wealthy enough to patronize night clubs and bars. Unsurprisingly, many of those are "government officials." Again, it's not that Palestinians shouldn't enjoy night clubs and bars; it's that those who can enjoy the night clubs and bars typically enjoy them within the context of imperial favors. It appears that to the extent that there is an 'economic miracle' underway in the West Bank, it exists to privilege a small group of elite Palestinian collaborators. In the colonial context, these are the useless and unproductive bourgeoisie that Frantz Fanon spent so much time railing against."
Wait, "pockets of prosperity?" But Ms. Arafat told us that there were actually "pockets of poverty." Which one is the pockets and which are the majority? I guess the question is who are we going to trust more, Ms. Arafat or One State here?

Blaming Palestinian Authority corruption on Israel is dishonest, but unsurprising. Busting that argument will revolve around whether the growth is only for the privileged few (as Mr. Moor claims) or whether it is for everyone, so let's see if that is the case. 
The International Monetary Fund report for the West Bank forecast a 7 percent growth rate for 2009. Car sales in 2008 were double those of 2007. Tourism to Bethlehem, which had doubled to 1 million in 2008, rose to nearly 1.5 million in 2009. New car imports increased by 44 percent. New shopping malls opened in Jenin and Nablus. The first planned Palestinian city named Rawabi will be built north of Ramallah, with the help of funds from Qatar.

International businesses based in the West Bank are expected to benefit from a state of the art web-based system for tracking goods coming in and out of the area, launched in August 2009 by Palestinian customs in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Yep. That's clearly only for the privileged few. I feel I should also point out that although Mr. Moor claims that is only a few "collaborators" who hold all the money in the West Bank, he doesn't back it up with links. Nor would it have anything to do with his thesis: Social inequality is not exactly a new phenomenon, especially in the Middle East. Again, I cannot help but wonder if this explanation for WB prosperity was simply dreamed up out of his own head.
"So, the Zionist tale of economic prosperity in the occupied West Bank is largely untrue. But what motivates the writers of the fictive media accounts?"
 Ah, the classic Palsbara argument: "I say it's not true, therefore it's not true." I mean, is Mr. Moor for real? He can take one story about Ramallah night clubs and a report about poverty in the WB and expect that to contradict all the established facts on the matter? He should just consider himself lucky that he write for the HP, a venue in which his words will be swallowed without the slightest question.

You can read the rest of the article but seriously, this is the best that he can do. He doesn't provide any other evidence that the recorded growth of the West Bank economy isn't real. Is this really the best the HP has?


  1. I doubt Mr. Moor has visited the area to gain a first hand look at conditions in the West Bank. Not even the mass media is claiming conditions are dire there. Western reporters can travel rather freely around the PA areas and check conditions for themselves. Heck, even Abu Bluff has admitted, "life is good." So Moor is going to contradict the chairman of the PA on how the Palestinians see life in the region they govern? It takes a long stretch to pin whatever shortcomings exist there on Israel! I would expect more from the anti-Zios to show its the area's reported prosperity isn't true. I don't have to prove a negative. The burden is on them to show that it in fact exists.

  2. Zach,

    You do not have to be hostile to Israel to be skeptical about the supposed economic improvement going on in the West Bank. Barry Rubin certainly is (very skeptical, not hostile to Israel):

    His basic point is that any economic improvement is entirely dependent on aid and that there is very little activity that will help the West Bank become economically self-supporting.


  3. DavidS is correct. Rubin has noted that all it takes to have of all this economic progress disappear quickly is another intifada or even a war. And the Palestinian Arabs have done next to nothing to create the basis for an economically viable state. It is going to happen in two years? I think the Quartet's timetable is influenced by rose colored optimism and is not supported by any real facts on the ground. A Palestinian state at this point looks as likely to happen as rain is likely to fall in the Sahara Desert.