Do Most Palestinians Drive Donkey Carts?

Roger Cohen, former editor and columnist for the New York Times, once said that Palestinians were confined to using donkey carts on dirt tracks to get from place to place in the West Bank while Israelis zoomed down superhighways in fast cars. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you may have seen a donkey cart or a camel. You also most certainly saw at least one Israeli driving on a highway in a normal, western-style car. If you haven’t been to Israel, then you may have seen one or more of these images on the international news. With that background, Mr. Cohen’s statement is not only believable, but also makes sense.

What you don’t know is that this statement, believed and repeated by many thousands of people all over the world, does not represent even a tiny fraction of the reality of what is happening inside what the world calls the West Bank, but what is really Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. 

We have a Youtube channel called The Israel Guys, where our mission is to tell the true and authentic stories of Israel every week. Being American Christian Zionists who are based on the Mt of Blessing in the biblical heartland of Israel (the so-called West Bank), we like to take our cameras out to the local towns and villages to capture the reality of life on the ground. Last year we published a video where we went into several Palestinian towns to document the types of houses that Palestinians live in. After the video went viral with hundreds of thousands of views, we began to document other parts of Jewish and Arab life in Judea and Samaria. One example is when we caught a fake riot on camera where we found all of the international media outlets pointing their cameras in the wrong direction. In contrast, what our lenses showed was a crowd of angry Palestinian rioters throwing rocks at an empty road. It was a scene straight out of Hollywood. 

Since we knew that many people around the world believe that all Palestinians are poor, and are confined to driving donkey carts on dirt paths, we decided to take our cameras and see for ourselves what the Arabs are actually driving under the supposed “Israeli occupation of the West Bank”. 

The results might shock you. In the space of one day we traveled to roads just outside of Ramallah, Nablus, and Qalqilya. We counted more than a thousand vehicles with green or white license plates (those registered under the Palestinian Authority) that were Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagon, or Audi. We also counted a number of Range Rovers, Land Rovers, Jeeps, and even a Jaguar and a convertible Ford Mustang. The more common vehicles that we did not include in our “luxury car” count were brands like Skoda and Hyundai. 

We even interviewed multiple Arab car owners to ask them about their vehicles. Many of the owners that we talked to said they had paid more than 200,000 shekels for their vehicles ($65,000 US dollars). A dealership owner that we spoke with in the village of Huwarrah in Samaria said that one of the most common vehicles that comes into his shop is Audi. 

The ironic part of our day was when we tried to find an actual donkey cart. Anyone who has been to Judea and Samaria more than once has probably seen a donkey or horse once or twice, but even though we had been watching the roads for more than eight hours, we had yet to find one. We were determined to find a donkey cart however, and after driving for nearly 30 minutes, and nearly coming to the Green Line of Judea and Samaria, we finally stumbled upon a horse and cart. Unfortunately, the driver was not impressed by our cameras and would not let us ride on his cart for the closing shot of our video. 

Throughout the day we counted more than 1,000 cars that were either classified as luxury (such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi) or very nice vehicles (such as Volkswagen). We estimated that these accounted for about ⅓ of all the vehicles we counted during our time watching the roads. 

Next time you see an international news outlet claiming that all Palestinians are poor, live in huts and drive donkey carts on dirt paths in Israel, point them to our channel. There are poor Arabs living in Israel, just like there are poor Israelis, but they certainly do not represent the majority of the Arab population in the so-called “West Bank”. 

For those of us who consider ourselves Israel-lovers, it’s important to not only know the truth, but to more specifically know the facts and reality on the ground so that we can stand with Israel in our own communities. 

About the author

Luke Hilton is the Director of Marketing for HaYovel, an organization that brings Christians to Judea and Samaria, the Biblical Heartland of Israel, to serve the land and people in volunteer service. Luke has been speaking about Israel since 2011, and has traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia speaking about Israel. He currently co-hosts The Israel Guys Youtube channel and podcast. Luke is based in Israel with his lovely wife Olivia and their five beautiful children.

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2 Responses
  1. Christa Winterowd

    Thank you for this article. We like to be informed on actual matters within Israel. I will try to share it on FB. My husband & I never believe the bought mainstream media news. We know it is propaganda. We watch GoVictory.com/News & Israel news on TBN.

  2. Loretta Downer

    I haven’t been to Israel since I spent 2 months there in 1973,
    but even then donkey carts weren’t the predominate form of
    transportation.I am continually surprised at how much misinformation is put out by mainstream media.

    Thank You Israel Guys