“BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Under starry skies, a young Palestinian Everyman wakes before dawn to begin his daily commute to work in Israel.
There are thousands like him. They are building Israel. Five or six mornings a week, long before the Muslim morning prayers, before the cocks crow, when packs of dogs still own the dumpsters, his alarm beeps. Today it is 3:30 a.m.
His name is Tarek Al Taweel. He is a Palestinian construction worker, not without skills. He builds modern high-rise apartments in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, where a five-bedroom penthouse sells for $600,000.
The job is okay, he said. He makes 250 shekels, about $68 a day, twice what he would make in the West Bank. He works beside his father, uncles and brothers. They’re proud of their craftsmanship. They keep photographs on their mobile phones of their aluminum work, fine carpentry, elaborate tiling.
It’s not the work. It’s the Israeli checkpoint. ‘I hate it,’ Taweel told us. The daily crossing drains him. It makes him feel that life is desperate and ugly.”
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.
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