Ben-Dror Yemini is a researcher, a lecturer and a senior editorialist in Maariv, daily newspaper, Israel.The original Hebrew version is here.
Additional humanitarian aid flotillas from Lebanon, Iran and the West are en route to the Gaza Strip. But the plight of the Turks, Iranians and the Palestinians in Lebanon is worse. Even in Stockholm and Glasgow amidst the festivities. Here are the facts.
Turkey was the most prominent country in the recent flotilla. From there came the Mavi Marmara with members from an organization (IHH) affiliated with Global Jihad. Lebanon is dispatching a ship that is due to arrive, perhaps in the coming days. Even Iran, that bastion of humanitarian justice on Earth, is joining the party. Thus, it would be worthwhile to check what is happening in these compassionate and strong countries, which are showing such noteworthy generosity in dispatching humanitarian aid to a weaker and depressed population. A representative has even arrived from Sweden, Gil Feiler, a former Israeli. Thus, we will also deal with Sweden.
Dead in Turkey; alive in Gaza
Infant mortality is one of the most important indicators in checking the humanitarian situation. It is clear that the situation in Turkey is worse than it is in the Gaza Strip. Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.71 per thousand; in Turkey it is 24.84. The Gaza Strip is in a much better situation than the global average, which is 44 infants per 1,000 births. It is also better than most of the Arab countries and several South American countries, and is certainly better than Africa.
Life expectancy is another important indicator. And here, life expectancy in Turkey is 72.23, whereas in the Gaza Strip it is 73.68, much higher than the global average of 66.12. In comparison, life expectancy is 63.36 in Yemen, 52.52 in Sudan and 50 in Somalia. These countries are crying out for international attention, for aid, for any rescue ship. But none come.
Regarding population growth, the Gaza Strip is ranked 6th, with a growth rate of 3.29% per annum. This may not be an indicator for quality of life but it seems that the high rate of growth, along with the high life expectancy, and the low infant mortality rate, attests to one thing. There is no hunger, no humanitarian crisis and tales of 1,001 nights from 1,001 human rights organizations. Most of the world's inhabitants are – according to objective data – in a worse situation than the residents of the Gaza Strip. This includes those who live in Turkey under Erdogan's rule.
Even by other indicators, such as personal computer use, or Internet access, the situation of the residents of the Gaza Strip is much better than that of most of the world's inhabitants. In order to complete the picture, let us point out that two years ago, a British politician claimed that life expectancy in Glasgow East was much lower than that in the Gaza Strip. The claim caused an uproar. Britain's Channel 4 carried out a scrupulous check and issued its "verdict": Indeed, life expectancy in Glasgow is lower than that in the Gaza Strip.
Thus, it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is much worse, and goes to people whose situation is much better. It could be that there is a need for additional ships. But the direction should be reversed. It is Turkey that needs the help. It is the Gaza Strip which should join the aid delegation for the benefit of the poor Turks.
One of the bans imposed by Israel deals with building materials. Experience has shown that materials that reach the Gaza Strip do not serve the residents but Hamas's military goals. Thus, no sane country, and let us hope that Israel is one of them, would supply an enemy organization with materials from which the bunkers for the struggle against it would be built.
Here as well, a reminder is needed. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live in a neighboring country, Lebanon. They are located in refugee camps and live under many and various restrictions, that should be dealt with separately, in a chapter on Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. In our matter, one of the most severe restrictions is a ban on construction. Simply put, it is forbidden to build. Not a home, nor a room, nor any permanent structure. Even in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, which was bombed by the Lebanese (The story is well-known: A radical Islamist takeover, which led to savage bombing that turned the camp into ruins). The extensive damage caused 27,000 of the camp's 30,000 inhabitants to become refugees again. They paid a heavy price for the fact that a mere 450 men were members of a rebel group Fatah Al-Islam. The struggle against radical Islam, which tried to establish itself in the camp, was used as a pretext for the vast devastation that was caused. It is interesting to ask why the world encouraged Lebanon to be heavy-handed, while Israel is asked to knuckle under. There are donations for reconstruction, there is also agreement for this, but the Lebanese government is creating difficulties. Thus is done to people whose plight and refugee status the Arab world wishes to make permanent.
Let us not forget Iran. According to every possible indicator, the situation there is worse. Infant mortality, for example, is 34.66 per 1,000 births, double (!) that of the Gaza Strip. Life expectancy is 71.43, less than the Gaza Strip and less than Turkey. With the imposition of Sharia law in the Hamas Strip, as in Iran, and when stoning women becomes the norm, one may assume that the residents of the Strip will deteriorate to Iranian levels. It was only this week that news came from Iran of a 43-year-old woman, Sakineh Mohamamadi e Ashtiani, is in danger of being stoned, following a trial for adultery. But in the meantime, only in the meantime, it is preferable for aid to go from Gaza to Iran. Let us hope that Egypt will allow passage through the Suez Canal.
Intifada in Sweden
And what about Sweden? Indeed, there is no occupation there. There are no well-financed agencies from the industry of lies to disseminate around the world the news of Swedish "apartheid" against Muslims. They were welcomed with open arms. The first and second generations live there. But last month riots broke out there. The rioters burned a school in "Little Mogadishu", the name of the quarter in which they live, in Stockholm. Police and firefighters who arrived to deal with the fire were met by a hail of stones. They did not succeed in reaching the blaze. Not that the Swedes abused them. On the contrary. But in the eyes of the Muslim youths, the Swedes, apparently, are a band of white racists who repress them relentlessly. The riots began because some youths were not admitted to a school dance. Not that there was a racist background to this "discrimination" but the response was stormy. A mini-intifada. This story garnered no headlines around the world. The riots lasted a few days. In the end, a school was burned to the ground, cars and buses were set alight. All in all, a localized clash. True, this occurred in other cities in Sweden. And it has occurred in other cities in Europe. But it has not happened in Gaza, or Jaffa, or Jerusalem. Thus there is nothing to get excited over. There is no need for any number of television stations to say that Sweden is a repressive state. There is no need to deny Sweden's right to exist.
It might be necessary – who knows – to send humanitarian aid to this repressed area in Stockholm, and maybe a mobile school. Details about the next flotilla to Stockholm will be published soon on human rights websites.
An un-humanitarian obsession
Most inhabitants of the world are worse off than the residents of the Gaza Strip. American aid per capita to the Gaza Strip is 7.5 times higher than aid per capita to Haiti. It is unnecessary to note that by any possible indicator, economic or medical, the residents of the Gaza Strip are incomparably better off than the residents of Haiti. The residents of the Gaza Strip are also better off, by every possible indicator, than the Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps. But we have not seen demonstrations in solidarity with those suffering in Lebanon; and no aid flotillas either. It is not even enough to be a Palestinian. One must be a Palestinian who can say, "It is all Israel's fault." What is true is that it is thanks to Israel that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are better off than most of their brethren in the neighboring countries. Because of the "brutal" occupation, life expectancy in the Gaza Strip rose from 48 in 1967 to 66 in 1993 and, as we have shown, life expectancy is continuing to rise. By the way, this is an astounding increase, higher than in the neighboring countries. But please, let us not confuse a "human rights activist" on the aid flotilla with the facts. They do not send aid flotillas to Iran, Lebanon or Turkey, and certainly not to Darfur in the Sudan. The humanitarian distress does not interest them. It is the anti-Israel obsession that interests them. This is not to say that they cannot be presented with the facts. They want to embarrass Israel. But the basic facts, and this is the truth, are likely to embarrass them.
Technorati Tag: Gaza Flotilla.
None of the foregoing is to say that there is no true distress in Gaza. There certainly is, even if according to objective data, it is worse in Turkey, Iran and Lebanon. Israel has an interest for it to be better in Gaza, that the standard of living should rise, that the economy should flourish. Israel disengaged in order to disengage, so that Gazans might develop an independent life. But the Hamas takeover has led to a situation in which instead of developing and producing, the only development is the Kassam rocket. The blockade was imposed because the regime in Hamas refuses to recognize previous agreements, refuses to recognize Israel and refuses to enter into the path of peace and reconciliation. The regime in Gaza chose incitement and joining Iran and Global Jihad. And despite this, everything could change in a day. If Hamas would only decide to accept the Quartet's conditions, not Israel's. The keys are in Hamas's hands.