“I’ve been working for the past 40 years to create peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I must say that so far I have failed, but that does not deter me from continuing. In my lifetime, I would like to see an independent Palestine, at peace and harmony with Israel. But I am no longer a young man and the days are limited.”
~Munib R al-Masri
I will often hear throughout various interactions with disenchanted Americans that there is no difference between Obama and Romney or Democrats and Republicans and I am often the voice of dissent on that point. To suggest that Obama and Romney are the same is laughable on its face; I could go through (and have before) an entire smorgasbord of positions that the two politicians wouldn’t be connected with a 10 foot pole if you tried.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re not the same for some things and as I read this op-ed from Palestinian businessman Munib R al-Masri … I concur with all of his sentiments. Yes – President Obama is more thoughtful in his words as he discusses the occupation by Israel of Palestine. Yes – President Obama doesn’t demonize the Palestinians like those in the right-wing. But the actions that Obama has taken are down the line exactly the same as the policies that Mitt Romney, and those policies have caused great suffering among the Palestinian people. Obama is beholden to Jewish voters in swing states hoping for campaign cash and electoral votes; Romney is beholden to Christian fundamentalists who believe Israel’s future is ordained in their holy book and he’s hooking for cash from wealthy right wing Jewish fundamentalists as well. Bottom line – they’re both beholden and that is why the inaction for peace will continue.
Billionaire Palestinian businessman Munib R al-Masri writes an op-ed in the NY Times HERE; everyone should read this:
American Jews like to split hairs over which candidate is more pro-Israel or who better represents their interests: Is Mr. Obama’s facial expression lacking? Is that omitted adjective by Mr. Romney significant? But ask 9 out of 10 Palestinians and you will get an identical response: “There is no difference between Obama and Romney.”
President Obama brought his clarion call for hope and change to Cairo early in his tenure. He said nice, positive things about respecting the Muslim world and encouraging a true peace between Israel and Palestine. And then he did nothing in slow motion for more than three years.
Mr. Romney believes that Israel’s impressive economic growth is because of the country’s strong culture and that the Palestinian economy lags because — implicitly — our culture is inferior.
As one of the most successful businessmen and industrialists in Palestine today (there are many of us), I can tell Mr. Romney without doubt or hesitation that our economy has two arms and one foot tied behind us not by culture but by occupation.
The Financial Times gives us a great profile on him and points out how he’s surrounded by the Israeli occupation HERE:
Al-Masri made his fortune as the founder of EDGO, an oil and gas contracting company in Jordan, later becoming co-founder and chairman of the Palestinian Development and Investment Company. The latter launched many of the building blocks of the Palestinian economy, such as the telecoms company, stock exchange, manufacturing and agriculture companies. And it is now one of the largest listed companies on the Palestine Exchange.
We step outside. Al-Masri points out Jupiter Temple, an Israeli army base 200m east. We walk around the house to view the two other surrounding settlements. These are illegal under international law. The settlements of Itamar and Bracha stretch out over the horizon and, according to al-Masri, are home to approximately 6,000 settlers. Up-to-date statistics are hard to come by but figures published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in 2010 documented 2,792 settlers.
In an attempt to prevent further settler expansion across Nablus, al-Masri continued to buy the land surrounding his home. He has now acquired a total of 300 donums (300,000 sq m) on which he has planted 8,000 olive trees. These trees have personal and national importance, cultivated “for this centre to have independent means of subsidising itself … from olives, oil and soap”, as well as their symbolic role as the Palestinian sacred tree. They too are part of al-Masri’s life project: to establish a free and recognised state of Palestine.
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