RAMALLAH, West Bank – Ten years since the shattering events of 9/11 changed the world, many Palestinians remain focused on what is unchanged: their dream of a sovereign state alongside Israel is still just a dream.
Many believe the last decade was actually a huge setback for their cause – especially because of America's subsequent war on terror.
“I think 9/11 was a turning point for Muslims and Arabs all over the world,” said Palestinian journalist Malak Hasan. “Since then the West is more compassionate with the Israelis than with the Palestinians. They think that we are only terrorists and deserve what is happening to us.”
Many here say that sense of prejudice has built barriers between the Arab and Western world and has created suspicions and misconceptions on both sides.
Shadi Issa holds both U.S. and Palestinian passports, but said he still has difficulty traveling.
“It's very bad. We cannot travel freely,” he said. “When I travel anywhere in the world I feel that people are looking at me. They ask me questions like, ‘Where are you from? Why are you here?’ Even if I'm going on vacation,” Issa added.
Nahed Freij is a business consultant and another frequent traveler. When asked if she gets the same treatment and how she feels about it, she replied matter of factly: “It’s discrimination.”
Still ten years on, there is no lack of compassion for those who died on 9/11. “We were all victims, because when people die, everyone is a victim,” said Rasha Sansur, among the crowds shopping in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
But ask around and you're also likely to hear Palestinians give credence to the many conspiracy theories that surround 9/11.
“The Mossad knew about it and the CIA knew about it. There were 3,000 Jews in the building who didn't go to work that day, it was not a random thing. Someone told them,'' Ashraf Abu Iram was quick to say during a conversation in the middle of a busy street in
Still, Palestinians this month are focused on New York, not as much on the commemorations for 9/11 as to events a few blocks away.
At the United Nations headquarters on Sept. 20, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to ask the General Assembly to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
“Lately we are focusing on our state, we are thinking about the vote in the U.N., it is the most important thing for us now,” said 23-year-old Sama Anfus.
But the fact that the United States has vowed to veto the move only confirms in most Palestinian minds that the legacy of 9/11 in this part of the Middle East is one of division and discord.