Recently, I've noticed headlines focusing on the Palestinian economy. The first one that got my attention featured the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an NGO that promotes Israeli-Palestinian commercial partnership. Despite the inevitable complexities woven into anything "Israeli-Palestinian," there is one element of this equation that I have witnessed: the majority of Palestinians see the success of Israel's economy, and they want in.
One example of that reality is found in the second article that got my attention. Ashraf Jabari, a Palestinian from Hebron, recently formed the Reform and Development Party focused on the economic prosperity of the Palestinian people. Right out of the gates he's being smeared by the Palestinian Authority. What's the charge against him and his pursuit of a better economy for his fellow Palestinians? According to the PA, his plan will, "liquidate the Palestinian cause and national rights." And that right there gives it all away! The current Palestinian leadership prioritizes their "cause" over the economic prosperity of their people. The Palestinian community has received 25x more money in international aid than all of Europe under the Marshall Plan following WWII, and it has not resulted in an improvement in the Palestinian quality of life. While the corrupt "leaders" in the West Bank and Gaza enjoy waves of international aid, they hindered their people and make them suffer for the sake of the "cause."
After the Six-Day War, when a Jewish presence returned to Judea and Samaria (West Bank), it resulted in an economic explosion and an elevated standard of living. Judea and Samaria, under Jordanian occupation before the war, went on to have the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. There's clear evidence that Israeli-Palestinian commercial cooperation is possible. But haters gonna hate. As I write this one of louder Palestinian voices speaking out against normalization with Israel is getting treated in an Israeli hospital. For anyone who cares about Israelis and Palestinians, it's maddening to see the hypocrisy and corruption that keeps the Palestinian people from engaging with Israel's innovative and flourishing economy. The Boycotts, Sanctions, and Divestment movement (BDS) only hurts Palestinians and exists to appease the conscious of social justice warriors...living in the comforts of the West.
Palestinians, especially Palestinian Christians, feel all of this. Less than a century ago, Christians comprised over 80% of Bethlehem's population. Today that percentage has dwindled to 15% and Christian emigration from the West Bank, and Muslim majority cities in Israel like Nazareth is a crisis. Since it's inception, Ezra Adventures has partnered with people and ministries working to advance the Kingdom in the West Bank and empower the presence of a Christian witness in Bethlehem. One of the ways we do that is by partnering with Christian Palestinian business that represent the one thing, the only thing that will make any lasting difference on the ground. Money by itself, isn't helping. There's a negative correlation between international aid and the Palestinian economy. The more international aid that comes in, the worse the situation becomes. The answer here and the answer everywhere, in all places, and with any problems is the Kingdom!
Through our ministry partners, Ezra Adventures is strengthening Kingdom-businesses that serve as the leaven of the Kingdom in the West Bank. These businesses represent the nearly undetectable leaven that, over time, works its way into everything. By developing Kingdom leaders and empowering them to create companies that demonstrate the values of the Kingdom, we can bring economic relief and invites the culture of the Kingdom to displace the current atmosphere of corruption and hopelessness.
In the book of Ruth, Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem because she hears that the Lord has visited His people. Ezra Adventures is inviting you to pray with us that we might see this miracle again in Bethlehem. Dream with us about a day when Palestinian Christians who have emigrated to nations around the world will hear that the Lord is visiting His people and return home. You can pray, you can dream, and you can adventure! We would love for you to come with us, meet our friends in the West Bank and let's advance the Kingdom together.
The Ezra Adventure team would love to hear from you. Please contact us if you have questions about our West Bank ministry partners, joining an Ezra Adventure or hosting an Israel, Palestine and the Bible event at your church.
For more on this topic get your copy of God, Israel & You at the Ezra Store or any major bookseller.