The Palestine Industry
June 5, 2011 Leave a comment
“Palestine is the best-kept secret in the aid industry… People need field experience and Palestine sounds cool and dangerous because it can be described as a war zone, but in reality it’s quite safe and has all the comforts that internationals want. Quality of life here is so much higher than somewhere like Afghanistan, but we don’t tell anyone so that we are not replaced or reassigned.”
This quote is from Emily Williams, an American project manager with a medical NGO in the Palestinian-occupied territories.
So, just how much money is being donated by the United States and Europe so that young, probably otherwise unemployable radical-chic graduates can look cool as well as land nice jobs? The total amounted to 3.96 billion US Dollars in 2009-2010 alone.
The great economist F.A. Hayek would no doubt be able to explain why this aid flood since the Oslo Accords has not actually created a better life for the average Palestinian: a viable economy is built from the bottom-up, not in a top-down method by planners with good intentions.
Palestinian entrepreneur Khaled Al-Sabawi wrote this fascinating insider-critique of the current policy and why it is simply not sustainable. This is mandatory reading for all the misguided people in the ‘Palestine Solidarity’ camp. Palestinians will become a more prosperous, happy people without the likes of Emily Williams, John Ging and the Western keffiyeh-wearers. To those ‘humanitarians’ I say : please, take a long walk off a short Gaza pier or resign. Preferably do the former, as our economies require useful people.
As the above Al-Sabawi article says:
“Due to the enormous amounts of donor funds provided as “development aid,” many NGOs are able to lure educated and professional Palestinians by offering salaries that are three to four times higher than what the local private sector can afford. This causes labour costs to rise significantly, and directly undermines the local private sector’s ability to recruit educated professionals and build an autonomous Palestinian economy.
Today, international aid accounts for 30 per cent of Palestinian gross domestic product (GDP), with a large number of educated and professional Palestinians flocking towards NGOs and donor-sponsored projects, thus further exacerbating Palestinian donor dependency”.
Of course, the aid given by Europeans and other westerners poses other difficulties. Arafat was notorious for running off with it (1.35 billion dollars worth, according to conservative estimates by the IMF) and government to government aid transfers are known for increasing corruption. Many NGOs are really fronts for Hamas or other Islamist groups, and have been very successful duping ignorant Europeans. There is also the question of how much aid money contributes to violence. What is certain is that it needs to be stopped. To help the Palestinians, assist them in building a real economy. I recommend endorsing the ‘Valley of Peace‘ initiative. Buy Palestinian goods. That means real Palestinian goods. Because of idiots in the Palestine Solidarity camp trying to make a political statement and look cool, Chinese manufacturers rushed to make their own cheap keffiyehs, the traditional Arab headscarf now de rigeur among left-wing students and activists. Palestinian manufacturers couldn’t compete and got put out of business. Do not give money to Palestinian NGOs or the majority of Palestinian charities, and lobby your local representative to demand the end of aid to Palestine. We can’t afford it, and it is doing precious little good. There will be plenty of crying and pulling of heart-strings in the aid industry, but future generations here and in Palestine itself will be grateful.