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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Run of the mill stupidity from NPR

NPR interviews a Gaza expert, Lawrence Wright, about the easing of the closure and background info.

It is not nearly as bad an interview as it could be, but the bias and wishful thinking is typical and needs to be exposed:

In June 2006, a young Israeli solider named Gilad Shalit was abducted from a crossing called Kerem Shalom in southwestern Israel. And since then, he's been held captive. The Israelis surrounded the strip and sealed off the borders and went rummaging through the residential areas looking for him. Four hundred Gazans were killed in the next several months, and the Israelis said they weren't going to leave until they had recaptured Gilad Shalit. But by November [2006], it became pretty obvious that that wasn't going to happen.

Yes, about 400 Gazans were killed in Operation Summer Rains - and two thirds of them were militants.(Actually, another couple of hundred of Gazans were violently killed from mid-2006 - by other Gazans. This bit of context is missing.)

The funniest part of the interview, though,  is this one:
Right now I think we have a very ripe moment for change in the relationship between Israel and Gaza in particular. Suddenly the Israelis announce that they are easing the blockade. Well, it would be a good time for Hamas to respond and a great way to do that would be to release Gilad Shalit unconditionally. It would, I think, make a huge impression on the world community and I think it would provide face-saving for the Israeli authorities and also a powerful incentive to respond in kind. That would be the most ideal outcome of this entire flotilla episode.
Yeah, wouldn't that be swell? Wouldn't it be just keen if Israeli confidence-building measures were ever reciprocated by Arabs, rather than being used as a reason to harden their positions because of perceived Israeli weakness?

The fact that soneone who actually spent time in Gaza still believes that Western-style logic might be appealing to Hamas' leadership shows indicates how badly real analysis is being impacted by wishful thinking. Anyone who has spent a half hour looking at the history of the region knows that  goodwill gestures are never voluntarily reciprocated by Arabs. They make concessions when their backs are against the wall, not when they have just gained a victory.

But, just for fun, so a quick search to see if any Arab or Arab sympathizer has given the slightest indication hat Israel's announced easing of the blockade is appreciated or even desirable. On the contrary, every single statement I have seen is that it is meaningless, that without a full lifting of the closure it is a joke, that Gazans should have no restrictions whatoever on importing concrete or iron - or, if anyone would bother to ask these people, weapons.