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?

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Read more at Mideast Dispatches

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

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary]. approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat