Skip to main content

Kristoff's journey continues.....into Gaza

Last week Nicholas Kristoff wrote a rather blunt op-ed piece about how Israel was dealing with the Palestinians - and how it was an intolerable situation which couldn't continue. This week his column deals with Gaza - where presently is - and Hamas. Read the column here.

Meanwhile, on his blog on The New York Times, Kristoff writes in less measured tones than his column:

"My Sunday column is from Gaza, where I argue that Israel should not just ease the trade restrictions but lift them. The problem with closing off Gaza, quite aside from the injustice of collective punishment, is that it tends to foster just the extremism that most threatens Israel and the entire Middle East. The constituencies for moderation and peace — civil society and the business sector — have been nearly destroyed and silenced, while Hamas appears to have been strengthened.

A couple of further thoughts. It’s very hard to gauge how popular Hamas is, but my vague sense is that Hamas may have lost popularity since the election in 2006 and since my last visit (2008). This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Israeli policies, but rather with weariness with Hamas’s Islamism, nuttiness and intolerance. Antics like Hamas’s attacks on summer camps for kids are emblematic of how the group antagonizes ordinary people. People are just tired of Hamas, and if Israel would stay out of the picture there’s some hope Hamas could eventually be displaced. Israel’s efforts to punish Gazans for Hamas may have the perverse effect of making Hamas more popular than it would otherwise be, and of keeping Gilad Shalit a prisoner longer than he would otherwise be. But that’s conjectural: it’s very difficult to understand public opinion in Gaza.


I’m sure some readers will dispute my suggestion that life in Gaza is better than it was a couple of years ago, and that there isn’t a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. But there seems to me to be no doubt about that. The most striking difference from my last visit is that then there was very little gasoline available in Gaza, so cars were running on vegetable oil — and the smell was terrible. There were also huge numbers of horse carts. Now gasoline is readily available by tunnel from Egypt (I’m told it’s cheaper in Gaza than in either Israel or the West Bank), and cars are humming along nicely. Gaza still has huge numbers of jobless people and it is poor, but it is materially better off than Arab countries like Sudan or Mauritania. Indeed, it’s probably better off than Egypt.

Traveling into Gaza remains a kick, although it’s slightly more normal than it used to be. Leaving from Israel, you pass through a series of empty corridors, with steel doors opening magically before you (they’re remote-controlled by Israeli guards far behind you). There’s nobody around, because very few people are allowed to use the crossing. Finally you walk out and follow a path for about 3/4 of a mile through a no-man’s-land into Gaza (it’s fenced off now, which is better than it used to be), and finally you reach a drink stand and a few taxi drivers. A bit beyond that is a new Hamas checkpoint. Returning is even stranger: After leaving the last Gaza checkpoint, you reach steel doors that are magically opened for you by Israelis, who then instruct you through speakers to go through a series of gates and put all your possessions on trays to be inspected. Then you pass through X-ray machines, and gates in front of you are automatically opened until you finally reach some people.

One of the tragedies of the Middle East is that Hamas was actually nurtured in its early years by Israel. The thinking was that Israel’s real threat came from secular Palestinian nationalists, and a religious group would distract Palestinians by keeping them praying in mosques."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Wake Up"

The message is loud and clear....and as you watch this, remember that it was on Israeli TV - not some anti-semitic or anti-Israel program somewhere in the world.


Look where Steve Jobs' father came from.....

MPS isn't a great fan of Thomas Friedman, who writes for The New York Times.

His latest column "Connecting Trump’s Dots" excoriates Trump - and he makes out a strong case.   Not that that is all that hard! 

At the conclusion of his column Friedman writes....

"Trump wants to partner with Vladimir Putin to defeat ISIS in Syria — a worthy goal. But Putin hasn’t been trying to defeat ISIS. He’s been trying to defeat democracy in Syria to keep the genocidal pro-Russian dictator there in power.

Will that be our goal, too? And who are Putin’s allies in Syria? Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite mercenaries from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Will they be our allies, too? No. We will enlist Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis to help us, says Trump. Really? But he just barred them from entering the U.S. How cooperative will they be?

And whom else might this ban keep out? Remember Steve Jobs? His biological father was Abdulfattah “John” Jandali. He came to America as a student in the 1950s and studied at…

Trump gives Aussies the flick!

There is simply no stopping Trump - and to think he will be in office for another 4 years!   The latest outrage is discussed by Roger Cohen in his op-ed piece "United States to Australia: Get Lost"  in The New York Times.

"Let’s imagine for a moment Rex Tillerson, the newly installed secretary of state, awakening to this tweet from President Trump about an important American ally:

“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

First, the “illegal immigrants” are in fact desperate people fleeing conflict whose status as refugees has in most cases been officially recognized. Second, as refugees, they have the right, under the Geneva Conventions, of which the United States is a signatory, to be treated “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.” Third, the “thousands” are in fact about 1,250 of the 2,500 men, women and children who, for more than three years…