Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ridiculous article blames Israel for "Gaza's cultural deficit"

In Al Monitor, Rana Baker writes a mishmash of pseudo-facts all meant to blame Israel for Gaza's lack of culture. Israel restricts movement in its own territory between Gaza and the West Bank, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza in 2008, and a bunch of other cherry-picked half-truths are thrown together to make it appear like Israel has a deliberate policy against Gaza culture, and Hamas is free and clear.

Here is the comment I wrote there:
What a joke this article is.

3 examples will suffice:

Baker pretends that the Islamic University of Gaza is a purely academic institution, with nothing to do with terror. Yet in 2007 it was reported that not only was Gilad Shalit held there for several months, and not only was master Hamas bombmaker Yahya Ayyash hiding there as well, but Fatah raided the campus and found 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, hundreds of RPG launchers and massive amounts of ammunition. Oh, and a tunnel leading to Gaza's police station, under Fatah control at the time.

Israel's bombing it in 2008 had nothing to do with "limiting culture" and everything to do with limiting terror.

The second example is how quickly Baker sweeps Egypt's role in the Gaza closure.Blink and you'll miss it: "Egypt's policy of restricting travel for men under 40..." Oh, you mean that Egypt borders Gaza as well? And it limits people entering and leaving? Then why is 99% of this article about Israel? How much cultural exchange is allowed between Gaza and Egypt? If the answer is "very little" then perhaps Israel isn't the problem, is it?

Finally, Baker's characterization of the PalFest as an example of Israel blocking Gaza culture is especially rich. Because last year's PalFest in Gaza was forced to move, mid-festival, to Cairo after Hamas police shut it down! Afterwards, participants (quoted in Al Ahram) noted how Hamas is the major reason Gaza is a cultural wasteland.

Not Israel, not Egypt - Hamas.

Professor of English Literature Sahar El-Mougy said that there’s a deplorable condition of cultural hunger. There aren’t even cinemas, libraries, or shops that sell books on the arts, philosophy or literature. The only available books are those on Islamic Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) and Fiqh (thinking).

'There’s a conspiracy against the Palestinian character, to destroy its beauty. Hamas is erasing Palestinian culture, replacing it with an extremist version of Islam. They don’t even allow men and women to be in the same place!' El-Mougy objected.

'But through all this, and despite the security and intelligence, who we saw everywhere in Gaza, students we met have the spirit of resistance — not against Israel this time, but against the repressive practices of Hamas.'

This article is nothing but propaganda, and Al Monitor does not help its own reputation by publishing it.
(h/t Josh)