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Thursday, February 14, 2008

AFP falls for Hamas Valentine's Day propaganda

AFP publishes a bleeding-heart story about how Gaza cannot export beautiful flowers for Valentine's Day:
In past years, Ziad Hejazi's colourful Gaza-grown carnations would would adorn the homes of lovers across Europe, bringing an early springtime splash of color to wintry Valentine Days.

But the 35-year-old farmer from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah says that this year his flowers will be fed to animals because of a punishing Israeli economic lockdown of the Hamas-ruled territory.

"I apologise to the lovers on the day of their love because I cannot bring flowers to them," Hejazi says. "Our flowers have become food for the sheep."

Flower farmers across Gaza, whose sunny climate allows for year-round exports to Europe, have been hard-hit by an Israeli closure regime tightened in June after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power there

...The carnations that might have adorned February 14 festivities in Europe have meanwhile flooded the local market, taking the place of other flower varieties kept out by Israeli restrictions.

"Last year I had 30 different kinds of flowers but now there is only one, the carnation, and very few roses," says Wasim Abdu, 28, a flower shop owner.

His shop is ablaze with red hearts and candles, artifacts of a more cheerful and romantic time in the increasingly impoverished coastal strip.

The rest of the surplus flowers will end up in Gaza's trash heaps and vacant lots, their pastel colors fading in the cool winter sunlight.
The Arabic WAFA version of this story is interesting in comparison (autotranslated):
Roses fragrance emitted from agricultural greenhouses, in the city of Rafah, south of Gaza Strip, not only marred Ruth beasts that has been ignored, on the eve of Valentine's Day, only meal of fresh roses American ready for export.

Millions of red and white flowers and UV trampled cattle and sheep himself in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Varud become the President of the cattle diet, not a luxury, but a copy of the images painted by frivolous Israeli siege on Gaza.

On the brink of agricultural greenhouses in the town of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip presented Majed farm buildings, hundreds of bouquets of roses free of a shepherd who arrived cart donkey cart, which also had a share of the meal and fresh flowers. وفي

On the other side of the greenhouse, shaking the tail cows eat up this meal is rare in the day 'sweetheart'.
So AFP is saying that only carnations and very few roses are available in Gaza because Israel doesn't allow flower imports. But WAFA is saying that roses are being eaten by the animals, not being resold (certainly for more money.)

It is possible that the autotranslation really meant carnations, but the word "varud" above is cognate to the Hebrew "vered" which means "rose."

What seems more likely to have happened is this: There was a major cold snap in January in Gaza, with the frost destroying millions of dollars of agricultural goods. The flowers in that "sunny climate", especially fragile roses, were probably ruined. Which means that they were only useful for animal feed.

And when feeding animals roses, why not get some propaganda mileage out of it, from gullible reporters from AFP and Reuters?