Story on ‘Richest Man in Palestine’ Shows Money Can’t Buy Honest, Peaceful Intentions

The Guardian has a piece on the ostentatious mansion of the richest man in the palestinian-controlled territories. The obvious takeaway is that there are clearly palestinians doing very well – something not so obvious given the mainstream media coverage of the conflict. That, and the richest man in “Palestine” is apparently not Mahmoud Abbas.

But there’s another point  I want to highlight.

As in Palladio’s original villa, which was built as a summer party house for a retired cleric, four grand salons lead from the central rotunda, although here they have been renamed after cities in historic Palestine.

There is Jerusalem-Hebron, which contains a library of almost 5,000 books, where a pair of antique French spiral staircases lead to an upper gallery of first editions and rare manuscripts. A 17th-century stone fireplace frames an iron hearth decorated with a crown, while a six-foot-long camera from Turkey stands next to photographs of Masri with former Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat, to whom he was a close confidant, alongside pictures with Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II.

In his second living room, Haifa-Jaffa, stands a gold-plated throne that belonged to Khedive Ismail, the ruler of Egypt from 1863 to 1879, which Masri bought because the steamship on which he first sailed to America from Beirut was named the SS Khedive Ismail. The list goes on and it’s hard to keep up. The agile 84-year-old moves quickly from possession to priceless possession, like a keeper auditing the contents of his museum, taking phone calls in between recounting the booty of kings and emperors.

Rich Palestinian Dude has named some rooms after Israeli cities, and was a confidante of arch terrorist Yasser Arafat. But when speaking to this seemingly clueless Guardian journalist, he claims he wants a two-state solution.

“I built this house for Palestine,” he says. “All my work has been to see an independent Palestine, at peace and harmony with Israel.”

I don’t buy it. I don’t think naming rooms in your house after Israeli cities is consistent with accepting the existence of Israel. Plus look at what he says in Arabic:

Is this consistent with promoting peace and harmony with Israel? I would argue it promotes the opposite.

By the way, I am guessing Guardian journalist Oliver Wainwright, who wrote the above piece, got this piece of historical revisionism from Masri:

Standing on the brow of Mount Gerizim, the steep peak south of Nablus in the West Bank, the house occupies a hallowed site of biblical legend. Canaanite tales and Samaritan manuscripts describe it as the place where Adam met Eve, where Noah built his great vessel, and where the prophet Abraham sacrificed a goat in place of his son, Ismail.

That is from the Quran, which has changed the Torah/Old Testament account where Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of Isaac, not Ismail (the forefather of Islam).


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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