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An American suburb in Palestine? Leave it to Beaver meets the Arabian Nights

An American suburb in Palestine

The village of Mazraa Sharqiya, only 10 miles outside of the Palestinian Authority administrative capital of Ramallah in the West Bank, is different from many of its neighboring towns, according to a he Jerusalem Post. The Israeli daily recently reported that sixty percent of all the residents of this Palestinian suburb are American citizens.

American dominated towns are nothing new in Israel, with major American populations in cities such as Bet Shemesh and Modiin, but the existence of a separate Palestinian-American identity in the West Bank is less known. Since many of the town’s resident’s live and work in the United States and earn American salaries, they have been able to take advantage of low land prices and cheap construction costs to build a suburban paradise that is two parts “Leave it to Beaver” and one part “Arabian Nights.”

The Post reported that “according to local residents, the origins of the town’s unusual circumstances date back to the 1930s when ‘people left the village because of the lack of jobs.’ Many went to Cuba and, beginning in the 1950s, began arriving in the US as well. Once a villager received American citizenship, he would usually bring along as many members of his extended family as possible.”

Every summer, as thousands of expatriates throng back to their hometown on summer break, the local language switches from Arabic to English and you are more likely to hear youngsters referring to Justin Bieber than Mohammed as they stroll down Mazraa Sharqiya’s main drag.

The American influence is most apparent in the breaking down of barriers cited by the Mayor, who stated that women are now allowed to dance with men at weddings, an act previously banned in this strict Muslim society. This is a far cry from the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, in which modesty patrols walk the pristine beaches in order to enforce Islamic dress codes.

An interesting mix of people has emerged in this little, Mid-Eastern, slice of America, with local Arabs saying that they have inducted many Cubans, North Americans and Mexicans into their community as honorary Palestinians.

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Comments

14 Responses to “An American suburb in Palestine? Leave it to Beaver meets the Arabian Nights”

  1. Aref Assaf

    I know this little town very well and it si one of several such American-dominated towns in the Ramallah region. It is almost empty except for the Summer months when expatriates return with cash to marry or to build the next more expensive villa. But I dispute the claim that mixed gender parties at wedddings are now normal. Except in rare close family affairs, you will not see the two sexes mix in such open gatherings. Even here in the US people from this village will not allow such a practice.

  2. Amanda Blake

    I also know this town very well I live here.Here in the Mazra as we call it, you will often see the Bride and Groom dancing with one another.The amount of religious weddings our almost obsolete because of a band from Fatah.Secularism is on the rise.Some may call it advancement others may call it westernization of the Middle East.Because of the fusion of two cultures it has created a lot of change in this predominantly Islamic society which is not always welcomed.As far as the opulence is concerned it is something I as A Palestinian am ashamed of.We have so many socio economic issues in the region it would be nice to see the focus less on aesthetics.

  3. Manal Harami

    you are right I also live in this town and although the advancements are pretty good there are throw backs we are losing a lot of our culture and that what makes it unique. The religious aspect of our town though it is becoming a little more secularized we still live life with the same values and traditions of the religion …hopefully we won't lose that it has been diluted some but not by far.

  4. Manal Harami

    All in all we live a good life here its calm, peaceful, the only problem is with high prices of everything I've lived here for over 21 years now and prices were always higher than the U.S. gas and solar prices alone are triple the cost than in the states groceries are also over triple the cost in the states my God a box of Cheerios is close to 10 U.S $ its ridiculous . So this article states that things are lowly priced that's a crock of bull . The monetary situation here is problematic we are suffering from outrageously high prices and if the average person makes around 10$ a day with that he has so many expenses so NO IT ISN'T THAT CHEAP HERE ITS CRAZY EXPENSIVE

  5. Manal Harami

    All in all we live a good life here its calm, peaceful, the only problem is with high prices of everything I've lived here for over 21 years now and prices were always higher than the U.S. gas and solar prices alone are triple the cost than in the states groceries are also over triple the cost in the states my God a box of Cheerios is close to 10 U.S $ its ridiculous. So this article states that things are lowly priced that's a crock of bull. The monetary situation here is problematic we are suffering from outrageously high prices and if the average person makes around 10$ a day with that he has so many expenses so NO IT ISN'T THAT CHEAP HERE ITS CRAZY EXPENSIVE.

  6. Manal Harami

    All in all we live a good life here its calm, peaceful, the only problem is with high prices of everything I've lived here for over 21 years now and prices were always higher than the U.S. gas and solar prices alone are triple the cost than in the states groceries are also over triple the cost in the states my God a box of Cheerios is close to 10 U.S $ its ridiculous. So this article states that things are lowly priced that's a crock of bull. The monetary situation here is problematic we are suffering from outrageously high prices and if the average person makes around 10$ a day with that he has so many expenses so NO IT ISN'T THAT CHEAP HERE ITS CRAZY EXPENSIVE.

  7. Haytham Kadur

    This article is all bs, people from the states send their children there to go learn Arabic and Islamic culture not to spread ignorance from the west

  8. Zeyad Kadur

    The author of this article forgot to mention the new amusement park being built on the main drag of the mazraa sharquiya.