Thursday, September 27, 2018


 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

The World Bank says that the “economy” of the Gaza Strip is collapsing.

This is or should be about as shocking as the discovery that there is gambling at Rick’s café. The word “economy,” which implies at least some productivity, barely fits. Gaza has survived on UNRWA stipends that have supported 1.3 million people with Palestinian refugee status (out of a total population of 1.8 million), on payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to its tens of thousands of “employees” (who either do nothing or work for Hamas), and on other donations from Europe, the US, and the Arab world.

The World Bank notes that 70% of young people in Gaza are unemployed, and 54% of the population live below the poverty line (but next door to them live hundreds of Hamas-connected millionaires).

Now the cash spigot is being turned off. Some blame US President Trump, who has cut funds for the special Palestinian-only refugee agency UNRWA, but the underlying reason is the Malthusian fact that the international community can no longer afford to support a geometrically-increasing population of beggars.

The crisis will be discussed at a meeting this week of the “Ad Hoc Liaison Committee” of international donors and other interested parties under UN auspices and chaired by the Norwegian Foreign Minister. The bank “blamed a number of factors, including Israeli restrictions on goods and movement into Gaza and Palestinian Authority sanctions against the Hamas ruled enclave in an attempt to force Hamas to relinquish its authority there.”

Could there be a more blatant and absurd substitution of cause and effect?

Let’s look at the real reasons for the crisis. First there is the structural problem inherent in the “Palestinian Refugee” system set up almost 70 years ago, which guarantees an ever-increasing population of dependents who are kept that way on the chimerical assumption that someday they will “return” to “their homes” in what is today the Jewish state of Israel. They are both paid and educated to this end, and only this end.

Second, there is the political situation in Gaza, ruled by the internationally recognized terrorist organization, Hamas. Of the billions that the US and EU pump into Gaza via UNRWA, the PA, or directly, Hamas officials steal some for their personal use, and divert as much as they can of the rest into preparations for war with Israel, including digging very expensive tunnels which are shored up with concrete and iron imported for civilian purposes, and building rockets to fire at Israeli communities. Instead of working at the jobs that don’t exist, young Gazans participate in riots at the border fence with Israel, try to provoke IDF soldiers into shooting them, and launch incendiary devices into Israel.

Every few years they succeed in provoking a big enough reaction from Israel that whatever infrastructure they have left is severely damaged. Then they are given international aid to rebuild it, which promptly goes into more rockets and tunnels. This is repeated over and over.

The “Ad Hoc Liaison Committee” will doubtless propose new ways of providing aid, but it will not attack the fundamental causes of the problem. It will not propose doing away with UNRWA, abolishing refugee status for “refugees” that have never actually been displaced, resettling refugees in Arab countries, or educating them to aspire to independent lives in place of the dream that someday they will get revenge on the Jews. Neither will it propose replacing the corrupt, evil, Hamas regime. It will, almost certainly, blame Israel – the target of Hamas’ rockets and incendiary devices.

As a matter of fact, Israel is responsible to some extent, but not because it has malevolently strangled Gaza by its “blockade,” which is only an interdiction of militarily-useful goods and is permeable to food, medicine, and so forth. It is responsible – along with the rest of the world – for tolerating the unsustainable situation in Gaza. Israel finds it easier to continue with the status quo, even including the periodic wars to which it gives rise, than to deal with the nasty job of uprooting Hamas. It prefers that UNRWA continue to feed, house, and nurture the delusions of generations of Arabs than to deal with the chaos that would come from ending their dream of “return” once and for all.

This is cruel to both the Jews who are struck by the rockets and firebombs launched by Hamas, and to the Gazans who live under the thumb of the corrupt regime, and as “Palestinian refugees” are doomed to a life of statelessness and dependency.

It is ironic that the honored humanitarian experts of the world’s most humanitarian society ever, the European Union, leads this farce. It is ironic that recent American administrations and Israeli governments have all gone along with it, shouldering the lion’s share of the cost of the great Palestinian refugee scam.

But it is most ironic of all that it took an American president who is considered by those European sophisticates to be so beneath contempt that they would laugh at his General Assembly speech to begin the process of puncturing the sacrosanct Palestinian refugee myth; the same president who was supposedly too naïve to know that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would “inevitably” lead to an explosion in the Arab world.

That explosion didn’t happen, and similarly there will be no explosion when UNRWA and the special status of “Palestinian refugees” are eliminated.

This may not be a sufficient condition for an end to the conflict between Israel and the Arabs, but it certainly is a necessary one!





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