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

 

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times