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Liberty from the Shekel

Alex Awad

Liberty from the Shekel

Israel has fenced us in our cities and towns. Her armed forces have built an eight-meter high wall, stretching for hundreds of kilometers, which separates them from us. Most of us who live in Palestinian cities are not able to cross to the other side and everything there that we cherish. We cannot visit our loved ones, we cannot visit our religious sites, and we cannot go to work, all because of the policies that Israel continues to implement against us.

Israel tells us it is making international borders and crossing points for our new state. But we know much of their empty promises. That state they are talking about is the one created for their benefit only. President George W. Bush recently declared that he has no intention of setting a rigid timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state. In other words, the dream of the Palestinians for statehood is a priority neither for the U.S. nor Israel. We must not wait for George W. Bush or the next American President or any Israeli Prime minister to grant us statehood.

We must work on this goal with our own sweat and tears. The only thing that stands between us and our free state is our determination. We must begin by taking steps toward liberating ourselves, no matter how small these steps seem to be.

There is one area in which we have become so used to Israeli domination, we donít question it anymore. All Palestinians use Israeli shekels as their primary currency. Why? Why do we accept bills that have images of Israeli leaders on them? Why, with all of the evil measures being made against us, making our lives miserable, do we continue to use the currency of the very government that oppresses us? When are we going to end our addiction to their rules? In response to the Israeli measures, we must take up measures to assert our dignity and seek our independence. Quitting the Israeli shekel is one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to do that.

To liberate ourselves from the use of the Israeli shekel is not an impossible task as many of us may think. Let me explain:

a. Unlike the 70ís and 80ís, very few of us are now working for the Israelis and are bringing earned shekels from Israel to our homes in the Palestinian enclaves.
b. Currently Israel is not helping our economy at all. If anything, through many unjust measures that the Israelis have taken, they are systematically crippling our economy.
c. All the funds that are granted to the Palestinian National Authority by donor nations and the international community and used as subsidies by the PNA to pay teachers, police, civil servants, etc. are deposited in Palestinian Banks, either in dollars or in Euros. Even the contributions granted to the PNA from the oil producing Arab States are deposited in our National Banks in Jordanian dinars, US dollars or Euros. We must request or demand that the PNA conduct its business by using any currency other than the shekel.
d. Already many of us pay for our rent and leases in Jordanian dinars or U.S. dollars, and many of us use the dinar or dollar for all types of financial transactions.
e. A good number of us survive under these terrible economic circumstances by donations we receive from relatives who live and work abroad. Why should we take their contributions that we receive in other currencies and exchange them to shekels?
f. Many of the international educational, religious, medical and social organizations that are serving our people are fully or partially subsidized by their respective countries. These organizations bring millions of dollars or euros into Palestine every month.

At present most of the foreign currency that we receive ends up being exchanged to shekels. Consequently, we are subsidizing the Israeli economy every time we exchange dollars or euros to shekels, and at the same time we are hurting our chances of becoming an independent nation.

What actions can you and I take to free ourselves from the bondage of the shekel and from subsidizing our jailers?

1. As much as it is in your ability, do not exchange your dollars, dinars, or euros to shekels but rather exchange your shekels to foreign currency.
2. Pay as many of your bills and do as much of your shopping as you can without the use of the shekel.
3. Ask your employer or your company not to pay you in shekel. You may lose a few dollars when your employer makes the adjustment. Remember no nation achieved its freedom without paying a price!
4. Avoid shops, stores and businesses that insist on taking shekels only.
5. Call upon the Palestinian authority to pay your salary and receive your taxes with your preferred currency.
6. Start reducing your dependence on Israeli products and encourage the use of local products.
7. Demand from the UN and other International Agencies to apply pressure on Israel to open our borders, airport and seaport to Jordan and Egypt. Israel has no right to shut us out of her sight and at the same time close our borders to other countries.
8. Call on Palestinian media (newspapers, TV and magazines) not to use the shekels in advertising prices or in referring to local currency.
9. Call on your local bank to encourage customers to use alternative currencies to the shekels.
10. Vote for Palestinian candidates who will openly advocate liberation from the use of the shekels and other Israeli products.

The Israelis have decided that they do not want us for neighbors and partners, but they have no right to extricate us from all other neighbors. Since they have locked us up and are about to throw away the key, we must assert the remaining power that we have. Quitting the shekel is a step in the path of achieving our independence until we have our free state and our own currency.