A few weeks ago, we were driving our “tourist” mom from Canada around the country, when we accidentally took the wrong cut-off and found ourselves somewhere in the middle of east Jerusalem.
Excited by seeing the children riding around on donkeys and the general sense of chaos, Mom commented on how very different this place seemed from the ‘other’ side of Jerusalem.
She was right. Now we are not going to get into the endless and tiring political debate over who/what/wheres and whys of why this is so – but the reality is that the two Jerusalems are like two different planets.
Now if you are riding around on donkeys and scraping together food to survive, how on earth can the environment be a top priority? That’s why we like the news of a new ‘modern’ and environmental housing project set for Bir Zeit, near Ramallah.
It will be called Rawabi in Arabic or “hills,” and some 4,000 housing units intended to house 25,000 residents are being planned by architect Sami al-Abid; the cornerstones could be laid as early as this spring.
Total cost amounting to $200 million and prices of the houses (small cottages “villas” and apartments) will cost as much as $75,000. (Later they updated that to about $150,000). Parks, playgrounds and attention to environmental aspects – such as solar energy – will be part of the project.
We hope when they say solar energy, they mean solar electricity and not the standard Dud Shemesh found everywhere in Israel. The latter is really the standard. Nevertheless, the Green Prophet loves this kind of news.
We believe people who are happy and housed, will have more energy for discussing and implementing environmental practices that can affect the whole Middle East. And peace on this planet.
Update: we interviewed Rawabi’s founder Basher Masri