Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Gaza pawns and their players

The way that the world is treating Gazans is an extension of how the world has treated Palestinian Arabs for decades.

Immediately after the 1948 war, there was a very real refugee problem. The Arab states who did everything they could to eradicate Israel had no interest in helping the refugees that resulted from their war. Instead, they tried to use the refugees as political weapons against Israel, adamantly refusing to resettle them the way that every other refugee group in history has resettled in their new lands.

Over time, different Arab states would try to co-opt the others in pretending to care more about Palestinian Arabs. Egypt and Syria both created their own "Palestinian" organizations to co-opt the growing group and use them as their own propaganda weapons. None of them made any moves to create a Palestinian Arab state, of course, unless it would replace Israel. The only nation in the Middle East that managed to get rid of their Arab refugee camps and replace them with real homes was Israel.

Meanwhile, UNRWA had to grow to take care of the ever-increasing numbers of "refugees." Over time, UNRWA forgot that it was supposed to help solve the refugee problem and instead started acting in self-serving ways, exactly how Arab leaders did. The more "refugees," the more important UNRWA became, as they took care of the PalArabs from cradle to grave, providing food, shelter and schools.

Palestinian Arabs continued to be used for their political value, remaining explicitly stateless even as their sojourn in Arab lands stretched from years to generations. They managed to get for themselves a single, charismatic leader - who used them the same way that everyone else did, while convincing them that he was thinking about what was best for them.

Now, in Gaza, we have groups who are fighting for the loyalty of the Palestinian Arabs there yet who care as little about them as any of their forebears.

We have Hamas, trying to convince everyone that they won the war, and at the same time promising to pay Gazans for their losses.

We have the PA, sending some of their billions from international largesse to Gaza, paying salaries and rebuilding institutions that they hope will not be used by Hamas.

We have the "other" terrorists, who will do what is needed to keep the conflict simmering forever.

We have Egypt, who loudly declare that they are the only ones who can broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and therefore claiming the mantle of the entity that cares most about Gaza - but they will forcibly stop any Gazans that try to go to Egypt.

We have Turkey, who loudly insist that they are the most loyal to Gaza and help in purely symbolic ways.

We have Iran, who send weapons to Gaza in order to have a toehold in an area where they can attack Israel directly from and who has great interest in keeping Gazans miserable and angry at Israel.

We have Gulf states, rich with oil money, sending petrodollars to Gaza to get the citizens to feel that they weren't completely abandoned by them.

And we have UNRWA, who now claim to take care of some 60% of Gazans and who want to keep their own positions in perpetuity.

Look at how Hamas reacted to the UNRWA's charge that their aid was being stolen:
Yihia Mussa, A Hamas MP, told IMEMC that the deposed government in Gaza is not welling to make obstacles for delivering aid supplies to Gazans, he added that the Ministry of Social Affairs told the Palestinian Parliament that UNRWA have been using local NGOs that has political affiliations to deliver the aid to the people, which contradicts with the political neutrality of UNRWA.
Hamas, which counted UNRWA as one of their allies, now is lashing out at another potential competitor for influence over Gaza.

None of these players are interested in solving the real problems of Gaza. Nothing is being done by any of these players to reduce the birthrate, to create real jobs, to increase productivity, nor to create a permanent peace with Israel. None of these players are interested in having Gazans mature from a welfare culture into people who act like responsible adults. Doing any of those things would reduce the players' influence and control.

The only player who wants to see Gaza truly get on its feet, to turn into a Singapore or Hong Kong, is - Israel. And since what Israel wants is axiomatically the antithesis of what all the other players want, this will never be allowed to happen even if it was a remote possibility.

Because the other players want to continue to control and influence Gaza for their own selfish reasons.