Last week, I found myself Googling “Ramadan 2013” to find out when Ramadan ends this year. For the past month, I have been awakened every morning by construction workers making a racket above my head at 5:30 in the morning. The workers are understandably starting their day early so they can pack up earlier and rest until the end of that day’s fast. Unfortunately, this means that I am perpetually exhausted.
I am also slightly obsessed with everything Ramadan. I pay close attention to the workers’ observance of the fast. One of the workers smokes during the fast but the others do not. One has started drinking water in the last week. None of them made it to work this morning due to some pre-holiday transportation (or security?) issue.
My interest in Ramadan this year leads me to reflect on how closely our lives are intertwined with those of the Muslims who share this land with us. Our economies are totally inseparable. They need us for water, electricity and basic supplies. We need them for labor and produce. Factories in Judea and Samaria employ Arab workers and Israeli hi-tech companies send work to Palestinian programmers. Pictures of Gazan supermarkets show Israeli products on the shelves, just as many of the fruits and vegetables in Israeli supermarkets are grown by Arabs.
As an example, check out the periodic IDF tweets about the trucks we send into Gaza on a regular basis. (That region we pulled out of, surrendering homes and synagogues in the process.) Today the IDF tweeted “Yesterday, the IDF facilitated the transfer of 285 trucks with 7,330 tons of goods to Gaza, incl. 643 tons of ceramics.” And the day before, an almost identical tweet mentioned animal food.
In fact, in 2013, commercial trade between Israel and the Palestinian territories was valued at $20 billion annually. Even if we figured out how to draw a border (and whose homes to destroy in the process), we can’t put up a big wall and forget about the population on the other side. Just as we haven’t been able to totally leave Gaza, we are destined to continue to be economically tied to the Palestinians.
Let’s accept this and move on.