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The Economic Situation in Gaza Is Far Better Than You’re Being Told

Feb. 12 2018

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?

Read more at Mideast Dispatches

More about: Al Jazeera, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Media, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen