Rami Levy stores have been springing up across the West Bank for several years now. Israeli businesses have been providing services to the settlements for decades but there is something different about these supermarkets. Rami Levy stores are located just outside the settlements, drawing both Israeli and Palestinian customers from the area.
In these shiny, well-stocked supermarkets, Palestinians and Israelis shop side by side. Families and individuals from both sides of this 60-year conflict encounter “the other” as they roam the aisles searching out the best deals.
On the superficial level, the integration of both communities in the economic forum of a supermarket is a positive development, especially at a time when separation (or even apartheid) policies are becoming the norm. The best way to break down the pernicious stereotypes which fuel hatred and fear and which are sadly deeply entrenched in this conflict is for Palestinians and Israelis to actually meet each other. In a supermarket, shoppers are all there with the same objective; finding good products at good prices. Politics are not part of the equation.
But is this really the case? The argument that economics and politics are separate, unconnected spheres is a fallacy which has been disproved time and time again, in many places and contexts. How do Rami Levy stores affect the social, economic and political dynamics of the West Bank on a deeper level?
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