Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on the risk of famine in the Gaza Strip, echoing commonplace descriptions of the territory as facing utter immiseration, usually blamed on the Israeli “blockade.” Yet a recent report from Al Jazeera (video can be found at the link below) shows that, despite Gaza’s economic problems, such descriptions are very wide of the mark. Tom Gross writes:
[The] Al Jazeera report [shows] footage of the bustling, well-stocked, glitzy shopping malls, the impressive children’s water park, the fancy restaurants, the nice hotels, the crowded food markets, the toy shops brimming with the latest plush toys. . . . And while, of course, there are also many poor people in Gaza—just as there are poor people in London, New York, Washington, Paris, and Tel Aviv—this prosperity among Palestinians is not just for the wealthy. Much of the population enjoys the benefits of it in one way or other. . . .
[U]nlike those people typically seen in European and American media dispatches from Gaza, in the Al Jazeera video almost no Palestinian interviewed even mentions Israel. Instead, they point primarily to the internal Palestinian political rift between Hamas and Fatah as being their main concern. . . .
If the situation in Gaza is as bad as many Western journalists and diplomats claim, then why is Gaza’s life expectancy (74.2 years) now five years higher than the world average? I don’t recall any Western reporter mentioning that life expectancy there is higher than, for example, in neighboring Egypt (73 years). Indeed, life expectancy in Gaza is almost on the same level as wealthy Saudi Arabia, and higher for men than in some parts of Glasgow. . . .
Gaza also has considerable political problems, perhaps less so these days in relation to Israel (which withdrew all its troops and settlers from Gaza over a decade ago) and more because of the poor level of governance by Hamas and the intense Hamas-Fatah rivalry. But Gazans are hardly the worst-off people in the world. Elsewhere in the Middle East, for example in Yemen, millions of people really are at risk of starvation. So why should the U.S. (or European) taxpayer continue to give Gaza quite so much money to the detriment of other people around the world, including America’s own poor?