Larry Derfner writes in the Jerusalem Post:
I just love Israel’s “hasbara” campaign against Freedom Flotilla 2. I mean, butter wouldn’t melt in these people’s mouths.
“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” says Ehud Barak. Gazans are “importing televisions and plasma screens, and exporting agricultural products to the entire Arab world,” says IDF chief Benny Gantz.
Yes, Gaza is economically on the mend – but not because of Israel’s good intentions; rather, despite its bad intentions.
If it were up to the government, Gazans would still be unable to receive terrorist infrastructure equipment such as toys, musical instruments, heaters, newspapers, fishing rods, tractor parts, irrigation pipes and, of course, coriander, on relief trucks coming across the border.
Why did that policy change? What forced Israel to start letting everything through except construction equipment, which it fears Hamas might use to make bunkers? It was Freedom Flotilla 1, remember? It was the killing of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, after which Israel was compelled by international outrage to begin allowing all those previously banned weapons of mass destruction – cumin, ginger, dried fruit, industrial margarine, clothing fabric, sewing machines and more – into the Strip.
Likewise, if it were up to the government, Hosni Mubarak would still be ordering Egyptian troops to search out and destroy the tunnels built by Gazans to smuggle in goods. But to the government’s dismay, Mubarak was overthrown and Egypt’s new leadership is less eager to collaborate with our Gaza policy.
The result? “Sacks of cement and piles of gravel… are smuggled through hundreds of tunnels in double shifts, day and night, totaling some 3,000 tons a day… Streets are being paved and buildings constructed,” wrote The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner last weekend.
“Things are better than a year ago,” a leading activist in the Strip told him. “The siege on goods is now 60 to 70 percent over.”
So you see? No need for a flotilla, Gaza’s doing just fine, say Israeli hasbaratists, smiling through gritted teeth.
Incidentally, when Gantz said that Gaza exports agricultural produce, he neglected to mention that that’s all Israel allows Gaza to export – and not much produce, either, or for very long.
“Export from Gaza is prohibited,” wrote Gisha, a Tel Aviv-based NGO, in a pre-flotilla report last week. “Between November 2010 and April 2011, Israel exceptionally allowed export of a minimal amount of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes from Gaza to European markets. The average rate of export during that time was two truckloads per day… Since May 12, 2011, no trucks carrying goods for export have left the Strip.”
I think Freedom Flotilla 2, even without making much progress toward Gaza, is playing hell with Israel’s image – or, rather, inducing Israel to show off its worst self (much as Freedom Flotilla 1 did.) Once again, Israel has gone hysterical, it’s lost touch with reality.