Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Middle East Sampler 9/4/2012: New York Times Doesn't Get Gaza

From DG:

1) Soak the rich Gazans

Last week the New York Times reported U.N. Sees Bleak Outlook for Gaza Unless Services Are Improved:
Under international pressure Israel has eased restrictions on imports to Gaza, but exports from the enclave are still minimal, undermining efforts to build an independent, effective economy. Israel says that it is working to enable exports from Gaza to the West Bank, but that the efforts are complicated by security considerations.
“Gaza is currently kept alive through external funding and the illegal tunnel economy,” the United Nations report said, referring to the vast network of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
“With little room for further growth,” it added, “Gaza needs to be open and accessible to the world.”
While the report acknowledges that there's been rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, there's no sense that the rocket fire increased as a result of Israel's easing its blockade. As if to punctuate the problems in Gaza the New York Times reported today, In Despair, Palestinian man sets himself on fire which reiterated.
A United Nations report published last week put the poverty rate at 40 percent among Gaza’s 1.6 million people and said nearly 30 percent were jobless.
Last week Khaled Abu Toameh asked How Many Millionaires Live in the "Impoverished" Gaza Strip? And answered:
But according to an investigative report published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, there are at least 600 millionaires living in the Gaza Strip. The newspaper report also refutes the claim that the Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade. 
Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of the Gaza Strip, further said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to the Gaza Strip; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt, that is strangling and punishing the people there.
Informed Palestinian sources revealed that every day, in addition to weapons, thousands of tons of fuel, medicine, various types of merchandise, vehicles, electrical appliances, drugs, medicine and cigarettes are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through more than 400 tunnels. A former Sudanese government official who visited the Gaza Strip lately was quoted as saying that he found basic goods that were not available in Sudan. Almost all the tunnels are controlled by the Hamas government, which has established a special commission to oversee the smuggling business, which makes the Hamas government the biggest benefactor of the smuggling industry.
Unsurprisingly, neither the UN nor the New York Times identifies Hamas as the primary culprit for Gaza's misery. 

2) On the other hand

Bret Stephens writes in Maybe he has Israel's Back ( available in it entirety through a link from Google search here):
Maybe the administration thinks that it can pursue an effective covert strategy against Iran while also telling the media that it is pursuing such a strategy. Maybe someone forgot to tell whoever is leaking the details of this strategy that "covert" is another word for "secret."
Or maybe the Obama administration is happy to brag about its covert accomplishments, even when the bragging betrays Israel's secrets as well.
3) Something to think about next time you hear about the PA's financial crisis

The Times of Israel summarizes a report from Israel's channel 2, PA spends 6% of its budget paying Palestinians in Israeli jails, families of suicide bombers:
As of May 2011, the PA spent NIS 18 million ($4.5 million) per month on compensating Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons and a further NIS 26 million ($6.5 million) on payments to families of suicide bombers. In all, such payments cost the PA some 6 percent of its overall budget, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Monday night, citing documentation signed by Fayyad.
Starting in 2003, Palestinian law mandated the dispensation of a monthly salary of NIS 1,000 ($250) to security detainees sentenced to up to five years in prison. The longer the sentence, the higher the pay. An inmate serving a life sentence was paid NIS 4,000 ($1,000) per month.
An amendment of the law in January 2011 enacted by Fayyad increased the salaries by up to 300%, Channel 2 reported.
No word if this has some sort of deleterious effect on the Palestinian "soul."

More on the topic from Palestinian Media Watch last year.

4) Those who don't learn from history are doomed to write bad op-eds

 The New York Times featured an op-ed by one Paul Thomas Chamberlin, When it pays to talk to terrorists:
It cannot be argued, however, that American leaders were unaware of the growing pragmatism within the P.L.O. Declassified White House papers show that, as early as 1970, State Department officials told Nixon that the Palestinians “cannot be ignored” and argued that they could become “constructive partners in a peace settlement.” American officials at the United Nations stressed that the Palestinians were “an essential element” and urged Washington to bring them into the peace process quickly. 
Ultimately, the political need to stand up to “terrorism” made a more nuanced approach to Palestinian nationalism difficult. While Nixon might have negotiated with guerrillas — as he was in the process of doing with the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam in 1972 — to do so with “terrorists” seemed another matter altogether. 
By failing to strengthen moderates within the P.L.O. and effectively locking the Palestinians out of the Arab-Israeli peace process, American officials sidelined potential peacemakers and pushed Palestinian national ambitions to the back burner. The decision to label all armed Palestinian groups “terrorists” postponed negotiations with the P.L.O. by 15 critical years, during which time the Lebanese civil war and the intifada helped spawn more militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. By the time relations were finally established in the late 1980s, Hamas’s star was already rising.
The reason for labeling "all armed Palestinian groups 'terrorists'" was because that was what they were. It was a definition, not really a label.

Chamberlin is arguing that if the United States (and, presumably, Israel) had started talking to the PLO earlier, Israel would enjoy peace in our time.

Implicitly, Chamberlin, in that last sentence, appears to be arguing that by allowing Hamas to emerge in competition to the PLO that allowed Palestinian politics to radicalize. That argument doesn't survive Chamberlin's own logic. If the emergence of Hamas made Fatah more radical, wouldn't the radical PLO factions have the same effect on the ones he claimed to be moderate?

If the appearance of this op-ed isn't bad enough, consider that prior to and during the Olympics, the New York Times did not feature a single editorial or op-ed advocating a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes killed in Munich. The only way the editors of the New York Times remembered the Munich massacre, was with an ahistorical, illogical essay whitewashing the PLO. (There was a memorial for David Berger in the sports pages and a handful of news items about the moment of silence, but nothing in the opinion section.)
Pesach Benson neatly takes the op-ed apart.

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