On the other side of 26-foot-tall concrete walls that surround Jerusalem, Palestinians will point to an occupation that now appears to be never-ending, with its levers of control ever present: the separation barriers, permit regimes, crowded checkpoints.
If Palestinians cannot get permission to spend their money in Israeli malls, Masri says, let them shop in Rawabi. That is how you build a state.
“And why not?” he said. “We’ve earned it.”
Rawabi is the counternarrative in the forever conflict in which Palestinians are often portrayed as terrorist or victim, living in refugee camps or dusty villages out of biblical times.
The Palestinians Masri has in mind? All the upwardly mobile dentists, Web designers and middle managers who don’t make the news.
The half-built city of Rawabi has been a media darling for years, a tour-bus destination for visiting Norwegian diplomats, Harvard Business School scholars, Arab venture capitalists, adventuresome American Jews, and most recently Coldplay — because nothing like this has been tried here before.
This is what a new Palestinian state could look like, says Masri, a metropolis with a 15,000-seat Roman-style amphitheater, hosting Broadway shows like “Cats,” with Palestinian techies typing code for Israeli companies and children learning crisp diction in the British-style Rawabi English Academy.
Masri believes that if he offers his people Zumba classes, they will come.
Or it could all fall apart.