Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gaza: Open Air Prison?

Gaza: Open Air Prison?

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, exploited his visit to Turkey to curry favour with his hosts, using Palestinian propaganda hype, saying that Israel’s blockade turned the Gaza strip into a “prison camp”. 

Every last Israeli left Gaza long before Hamas' bloody take-over. Closing the borders and even war has not stopped the incessant rockets and terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and border checkpoints. More than 30 terrorist attacks come out of Gaza each month.  

Applying international law, Israel inspects the constant flow of goods through its borders into Gaza, in an attempt to exclude war material. Propagandists (and it seems European politicians) conveniently ignore the rules of war and international law, and claim these actions to be a form of occupation. They declare that Israel ruthlessly keeps Gazans in poverty.

Visiting international politicians and aid agency representatives are taken to view the deliberately unrepaired damage of the war Hamas provoked. Poverty stricken areas, including families living in plastic tents since their houses were destroyed in the war, are all on the carefully pre-arranged agenda. Israel is obligingly condemned. And more western tax payer money is pledged to the highest ever per capita aid program. 

Although of little interest to the mainstream media, Gazan "poverty" is strongly questioned in the blogosphere. No accumulation of facts seems to be able to stop the constant flow of lies, cynically manipulated into very effective anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) propaganda.

Even the Palestinian media reports a very different picture. There is an abundance of both basic and luxury goods. It is not clear if it comes via the Egyptian border, underground tunnels, or the thousands of trucks that the Israelis officially allow to stream through their border crossings. But the fact is that there is plenty, and often at very attractive prices. 

Ordinary Palestinian citizens say that there is enough to go around - but the Hamas apparatchiks steal it.  

And what of building materials to house those wretched families? Somehow, they don't seem to rank in the Hamas list of priorities. A brand new shopping mall replete with luxury goods, aluxury hotel  
fancy restaurant, an olympic size pool and a fancy jail  to lock up prisoners accused of crimes such as "passing information to the Palestinian Authority" do make it into the list of latest completed projects, though.

Electricity shortages? Also an internal problem. Seems that Hamas collects electricity bills from the end user & then steals the money - expecting the Palestinian Authority and international donors to pay the Israeli suppliers. When the suppliers want their overdue money before providing more goods, who do you guess is blamed?

But those wretched Palestinians are suffering. Then again, life expectancy, infant mortality, and even cell phone penetration statistics show Gaza to be better off than other Muslim countries – and in many cases better than most places on earth!

Forgotten is the Economist report of 2004 that the West Bank and Gaza rank amongst the most obese populations in the world. 

Clicking on the links embedded above will bring you to lots of reports and pictures showing the truth.

But what about the charge that Israel has turned Gaza into a large open-air jail? We all value freedom of movement. We want to be able to leave our country of residence either permanently or temporarily for vacation, to receive better medical care, to advance our education or business. But of course, we all know that no-one can get in or out. Don't we?

Israel can be forgiven for being very cautious about allowing enemy aliens through its territory - after all Hamas has officially and openly declared its intent to wipe Israel off the map and sends regular rockets across the border to remind us all. Nevertheless, many people do cross the border - usually for humanitarian reasons, often to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

But what everyone seems to forget is that Israel is not Gaza's only border. Fellow Arab country Egypt, which has supported the Palestinian cause since it was first invented, is linked to Gaza with a little more than 11 km of border, and an official crossing at Rafah.

So why an open air prison? The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) regularly exposes the real problem in its monthly reports. Here it is from this month's bulletin:

Violations of the Right to Travel and Movement 

Gaza residents are still suffering from the unavailability of passport books since November 2008 until the end of this current month. According to ICHR information obtained from officials from the Ministry of Interior of the Deposed Government, the MOI in the West Bank does not send passport books for citizens in Gaza Strip which entails depriving them from the right to travel and movement. In addition, it affects most of those in urgent need for traveling abroad for seeking medical care, university education, students and thousands of expatriates whose passports have expired and require renewal.

International travel, even via Egypt, requires a passport. The PA won't issue Gazans with passports. Gazans can't travel. That's Israel's fault. Clear?



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Friday, July 23, 2010

Join the BUYcott

Join the BUYcott


The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement is becoming increasingly strident, using every conceivable tactic to delegitimise Israel in every forum. Academic, trade and industrial boycotts are called - often using tricks and lies that we are all sick of hearing.  Generally, the impact in economic terms is small. But often, the campaigns and counter-campaigns surrounding each proposed boycott generates so much publicity, that even unsuccessful campaigns generate significant damage to Israel's standing in the world court of public opinion.

Letters to the editor, to academic institutions or shop owners targeted, and all the "usual" activities are important.  But friends around the globe who have been faced with boycotts in their local communities have told me from personal experience that there is one tactic that has consistently proved a winner.  A Buycott. 

Wherever a boycott is announced or threatened, local supporters go out and BUY the product involved.  They let their friends know and ask them to help.  And then they let the store owners know how pleased you were with the purchase. And after the boycott has failed, go back and buy again.  Make the boycott a long term a bonus for the store and for Israel!

Faced with failure, Palestinians have resorted to exaggeration and barefaced lies to encourage their activists around the world to keep up the program.

Here's the latest example from the 
Palestinian Maan News Agency, which reports a claim by the Palestinian responsible , Omer Qabaha, that one such success of his BDS activities is that the Israeli dairy Tara has moved its manufacturing plant from "occupied" Katzrin in the Golan Heights.

So I checked, and got the following reply:

Dear David,

Tara has no factory on the Golan Heights and there were never any products marketed under the name Tara processed at the dairy processing plant on the Golan
Shabbat Shalom

Ralph Ginsberg
Israel Dairy Board

So there! 

Join in a successful campaign for Israel!   Ask your stores to stock Israeli products, look for them, buy them, talk about them and encourage your friends to buy them.  If you are in business, look for ways to promote Israeli products in your product range or include them in your manufacturing processes.  If you need a starting point, I would be pleased to help you source Israeli inputs.  Then, if you are really lucky, someone will declare a boycott and help promote your business.


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Monday, July 05, 2010

Red Cross hosts Hamas deportees

Red Cross hosts Hamas deportees

The Red Cross has always been grudging in its attitude to Israel. Its decades of reluctance to accept Israel's Magen David Adom into its fold until the US Red Cross withdrew funding was a prime example. For many years, the Red Cross had pretended that its hands were tied, as Israel's Star of David emblem did not conform to its standards (while the Palestinian Red Crescent was fine).

And today, the Red Cross says it is pressuring Hamas to allow access to captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Somehow, in a perverted way, the Red Cross claims some sort of victory in its activities in the region:

"One of our main achievements is that we have been able to visit nearly everyone detained in connection to this conflict, with the exception of Gilad Shalit," Pierre Dorbes, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories, told Haaretz on Tuesday.

Dorbes conveniently forgets Ron Arad, or in fact any Israeli who has been captured in the past by Arab armies or militias. Of course the Red Cross has had access to all Israeli prisoners. Israel acts within the norms of international law and morality even toward terrorists. And the Red Cross claims the credit!

Of course, the Red Cross is powerless against rogue regimes, like Hamas - isn't it? Academic Israel hater Noam Chomsky tells us in "Turning the Tide: US intervention in Central America and the struggle for peace" that the Red Cross "in July 1982... threatened to leave El Salvador because of human rights abuses by the armed forces...". 

So in Gaza, has the Red Cross ever taken such a strong stand - if not for Gilad Shalit, then for the citizens of southern Israel who were subjected to barrages of rockets and missiles? For the daily abuses of human rights in Gaza as Hamas attacks its own citizens, steals their aid, uses them as human shields, implements kangaroo court death penalties, and much more?

How does the Red Cross pressure Hamas?

In East Jerusalem, the answer is clear - although the only media to have carried the story so far is the print edition of Israel's Hebrew language Yediot Aharonot and the website of the Muslim Brotherhood. (I leave you to ask your local media why this story is of no general interest.)

To quote Yediot Aharonot "Hamas does not allow Red Cross representatives to visit captive Gilad Shalit, but it doesn't stop the international organisation from granting asylum in its East Jerusalem offices to Hamas leaders."Israel has issued deportation orders for subversive activity against four Hamas leaders. One is in an Israeli jail, waiting the outcome of a high court appeal against the order. The others are photographed being served drinks by a Red Cross employee at a table laden with refreshments in the Red Cross East Jerusalem offices, which has granted them asylum and advised the Israeli authorities that they are under Red Cross protection.

Israel has warned that they are not protected there...but if they are arrested, I can just imagine the sudden media interest and outcry.



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