Monday, November 15, 2010

Price gouging in Gaza

In recent months, the Gaza meme has changed from "Gazans have no basic goods or food" to "Gazans have access to plenty of goods  - but can't afford it."

This was, of course, a reaction to the news that a mall was opening in Gaza selling luxury items - to sellout crowds. This was a case where the blogosphere managed to help explode one of the greatest myths about Gaza.

So the meme had to morph to handle the new reality. Additional corollaries included "it is much larger than a humanitarian crisis" or it is a "crisis of dignity." And all those well-stocked shops? Well, the owners are fools, because UNRWA officials assure us that no one can afford these luxury items.

Well, at least during Eid al Adha, they are partially right.

Palestine Today looks at the shops of Gaza, and sees that the stores have jacked up the prices as much as 500% in the past week for clothing and similar items.

The shop owners defend themselves. In one case, a merchant says that no one wanted to buy an article of clothing for NIS 5  ($1.25) because they assumed it was cheaply made, so he raised the price to NIS 25 and now can't keep up with demand.

Another merchant tells the story of a woman who refused to buy pants for NIS 15 (about $4) but came back the next day and bought them for NIS $45.

The truth is often different from what the "experts" say. Yet no matter how often they are proven wrong, when it comes to bashing Israel, everyone still considers them "experts."