Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • Thursday, March 27, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Today, at the Brookings Institution, a report about early childhood development in the West Bank and Gaza will be discussed. The report was written by the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA.)

For the most part, the report is serious and well done. It talks about the importance of early childhood education and nutrition and where children in the territories fall short.

Yet even in a report like this, anti-Israel rhetoric manages to enter. I don't think it was deliberate; I think it is just that the authors of the report were not attuned to how anti-Israel activists will politicize facts and make up others.

The report says:

One of the most critical issues facing Palestinian preschool children (aged 3-6) is that of malnutrition. The combined effects of the Israeli siege and poverty in Gaza have resulted in the widespread development of anemia among women and children; consequently, stunting in Gaza’s children is on the rise, affecting about 31.4% of children under the age of two.16 The consequences of poor nutrition resulting in underweight, stunting, and anemia are enormous and seriously impair the child’s physical, cognitive, and social faculties.
The footnote to this statistic doesn't go to a scientific study or a World Health Organization report. No, the source is the Electronic Intifada hate site, in an interview with anti-Israel activist, terror supporter and serial liar Dr. Mads Gilbert. He said there:
As a result of the Israeli siege, there has been widespread development of anemia among children and women due to malnutrition as a result of siege and poverty. Stunting, where a child is more than two standard deviations shorter than what it should be, is sharply on the rise. In 2006, around 13.5 percent of children were stunted. In 2009, 31.4 percent under age two were stunted.
Where did these statistics come from? I have no idea. The closest I have found is this 2012 study that only discusses specific poor sections of North Gaza, which are known to be in much worse shape than the rest of Gaza. The BBC mentioned in 2009 that Gaza children have a 10% stunting rate but in portions of northern Gaza the rate approaches 30%. Gilbert, if he is not making up the numbers from thin air, seems to be comparing a study of poverty stricken north Gazans with Gazans as a whole.

In fact, the World Bank in 2011 looked at the stunting statistics of Gaza children and called the results "outstanding" compared to other countries. Indeed, Gaza is better off than most Arab countries in this regard.

Now, Gilbert says two things. One is the statistics, which seem dubious at best. The other is his opinion that this is "as a result of the Israeli siege." That is completely unsupportable, and provably false.

Because Israel has not had any restrictions on food into Gaza for years.

So this lying quote from Mads Gilbert, and his unsupported opinion, from an anti-Israel hate site, gets used as a scholarly source for a serious report on Palestinian Arab children.

To its credit, ANERA gives legitimate reasons for Gaza nutritional problems that have nothing to do with Israel. It notes that anemia in Gaza is actually significantly lower than in the West Bank which makes no sense if Israel's "siege" had anything to do with nutrition in Gaza. It mentions that giving children excessive amounts of tea to drink, a widespread practice in the territories, contributes to anemia.

Yet the anti-Israel narrative is so prevalent that no one at ANERA thought to check twice that their accusations about Israel were lies. It is simply a given that Gaza misery is associated with Israel, and not worth taking the time to verify.

(h/t Solomon2)

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