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Friday, August 27, 2010

Arab columnist almost gets it right

Diana Mukkaled in Asharq al-Awsat writes:
Hamas police proceeded to close a water park in Gaza due to the presence of "degrading and unethical gender mixing" according to the justification reported in the news. Subsequent information about this incident revealed that the citizens who were removed from the water park, following the Hamas decisions, had just sat down to break their fast [during the holy month of Ramadan], and those evicted from this water park included a charity organization that looked after orphans.

The media in our region only briefly reported this news, mainly because we do not understand how breaking one's fast during Ramadan could be considered "degrading and unethical." What exactly is the criteria for this?

In any case, this news did not gain a lot of media attention in the Arab world. In fact, those media outlets that covered this story included it on the inside pages of their newspapers or as part of a news round-up, and that is when it was reported at all.

Yet the Gaza Water Park closure is not an isolated incident, in fact similar events occur routinely [in the Gaza Strip]. Only a few weeks ago, gunmen burned down a summer camp for children organized by UNRWA because young boys and girls would be mixing together, and there was a possibility of them swimming together.

Indeed, the siege imposed upon Gaza, and the continuing strain that this has had on its people, has not prevented Hamas from overseeing ‘public morals’. For example, Hamas ensures that women's clothing stores respect the principle of modesty with regards to the mannequins on display at the shop's entrances, with the shop's who fail to do so being subject to punishments. The hardships suffered by the people of Gaza has not prevented Hamas from ensuring that women do not smoke shisha in public places, or that men do not work in female clothing shops.

And who could forget how the Ministry of Education in Gaza banned the book ‘Speak, Bird, Speak Again’ which was a collection of Palestinian folk tales, saying that this contained "shameless sexual expressions?"

What is happening in Gaza is certainly far from an accident, or a miscalculation on the part of Hamas, and in fact this represents the essence of the Hamas movement and its true religious viewpoint. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip through force of arms, and it is impervious to being held to account for its actions. One cannot question its daily practices, or its oppression of the people of Gaza as Hamas practices tyranny in the name of resistance, and hides behind slogans.
Very good so far. But then she starts to veer off a little:
Hamas does not tire from changing the features of the Palestinian cause, and obscuring its humanitarian aspects by continuing to obscure and eradicate Palestine's secular history and reality.
Um, there isn't much of a secular history. There have been only two major Palestinian Arab leaders - the Mufti and Yasir Arafat. The Mufti used religious justifications for his hate, as did Hamas' spiritual forbearer Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. The only avowed secular leaders of the Palestinian Arabs were the terrorist leaders of the DFLP, PFLP and other Marxist parties.

Then she starts to veer off a lot:
Those who are united in support for Gaza and its people do not extend their solidarity towards the subsequent injustices inflicted upon the people of Gaza by Hamas, who have seized control of their lives.
Well, they sure are silent about those injustices, aren't they?
...What was inspiring with regards the Freedom Flotilla that came to challenge the Israeli blockade was that this also challenged the blockade that is being imposed by Hamas upon the lives of the people of Gaza.
How exactly did the flotilla people do a single thing - implicitly or explicitly - to challenge or weaken Hamas? On the contrary, they made very clear that they support the "freely elected government of Gaza" and their statements have made clear that if they are against any political figures in the territories, it is the PA. Previous ships and convoys have met with Hamas leaders and given them cash and gifts.

Mukkaled is doing a great job by pointing out how Hamas is oppressing Gazans, but she falls far short in not realizing who exactly it is that is propping up Hamas - the idiots who pretend to want to help the Gazans but are really only interested in the street cred and fame it gives them.

In fact, last month the Arabic version of that same paper had an op-ed by a playwright who discussed the poor quality of "aid" that was being delivered to Gaza by these same so-called "humanitarians":

"Last week, the doctors in Gaza who were in charge of receiving the medicines from the aid convoys... and of distributing them to the hospitals, announced that 70% of these medicines were months, or years, past their expiration dates. They also received Tamiflu pills – a medicine for swine flu, which has already passed through the region and the world – worth an estimated three million dollars (or 30 [million] – I do not remember exactly...). The same is true of the dialysis machines, which were useless. Another gift sent by one of the Arab countries was described as cruel. What was this gift? Shrouds. Yes, short shrouds of white cloth, 125 centimeters long. Was there ever a gift in such poor taste? The doctors added that they had given [the delegations] a list of 125 types of medicine that had run out in all of the [Gaza] hospitals, but they did not receive even one of these. Our problem now, [the doctors said,] is to find a garbage dump where we can dispose of or bury the spoiled cargo. We must get rid of it safely, so that it does not pose a threat to people or the environment.
"That was all the Gazan doctors said. I imagine that they took great pains to choose [neutral] words and not interpret what had happened. I am obliged to point out their courage in stating the truth about what happened, even if they withheld the names of those who had given them the shrouds, the [broken] machines and expired medicines... 70% of the medicines that reached the people of Gaza were expired! In an Arab pharmacy [anywhere else], if even a single bottle of medicine were found to be expired, its owner would be brought to trial!"
In no way do the flotilla fools help Gazans obtain any degree of freedom or salvation from Hamas rule.

Altogether, a solid B for Mukkaled.

(h/t Zvi)