Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Gaza: When There's No Beef Stroganoff--THAT'S Poverty!

True, there are real shortages in Gaza as a result of the border closure and the Israeli blockade--shortages that are the direct result of the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza and continue to fire rockets into civilian areas in Israel.

But sometimes, these claims of poverty become absurd.

From Der Spiegel (part 2; part 1 here):
Samir Badr, 53, the head chef at Roots, isn't sure what to make of the Israeli recommendation. He is standing at the gas range in his kitchen, roasting eggplants. "If the Israelis knew how hard it is to get all the ingredients for beef stroganoff!" It starts with the meat, he says. The cattle come from Israel, but there is often no meat to be had, or cream, for that matter. It wouldn't survive the trip through the tunnels. Vegetables come from Gaza, but they are often contaminated, because of inadequate sewage treatment resulting from a lack of electricity. Besides, there are problems with cooking equipment, and plates, glasses and cutlery are in short supply.
Ah yes, the Stroganoff. One can only hope that the customers at Roots won't suffer too much--

"The Israelis point to the few good things in Gaza, but they don't talk about the majority of people, who are not doing well," Basil Nasser, 44, one of the owners of Roots, says furiously. "Sure, there's enough to eat in Gaza, but poverty is more than that. Poverty is when the 15,000 people who graduate from the university each year have to beg for jobs as waiters, when an extended family lives in a single room and when the hospital lacks critical drugs. That's poverty."
Someone should point out to the owner of Roots that the point of the aid that Israel provides on a daily basis is not to provide luxuries to Gaza. Better to hope for the day that Hamas stops the rockets and releases Gilad Shalit--who is held incommunicado, contrary to international law.

Lee Smith, author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, has responded to Nasser's complaint:
There is not an Arab state where this is not true of college graduates - especially now after the financial crisis has affected the Gulf states and made it harder for Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Moroccans etc to find work in the Gulf.

However, this ignorance of what the Arab world looks like is a consistent problem you see in the Western press where reporters on Israeli-Palestinian issues generally have very little experience of the region outside of Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. So instead of comparing Gaza to a Cairo slum like Imbaba, or Ramallah to an Arab capital like Damascus, they are compared to Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem and Western cities.
Based on his assessment, we are being misled by the media--a serious problem that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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