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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Latest horror: Israel provides too many high quality goods to Gaza!

First, everyone used to complain about that "siege" that Israel supposedly had on Gaza? And how somehow Gazans managed to still get lots of consumer items anyway? And how the media tried to spin it?

Then they moved the goalposts, saying that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that had been a media meme since at least 1993 was not really a humanitarian crisis per se, but more a crisis of "dignity."

Now that Gaza has far more consumer goods, exports are going up dramatically and the tunnel trade has been hurting because of the amount of aid coming from Israel, the Israel-haters need to find another theme - another reason to hate Israel. After all, we all know Israel is evil, so they must be guilty of something.

Al Monitor uncovers the latest nefarious Israeli crime:
Walking into a supermarket in Gaza might come as a great surprise for a person visiting the coastal enclave for the first time. At first glance, the visitor would be amazed by the level to which the shelves are packed with all kinds of products, ranging from basic food supplies to expensive chocolates and Coca-Cola. A father pushing a heaped stroller, or a toddler restlessly pulling her mother's hand and pointing at a lollipop, are scenes one is likely to encounter.

A closer look into the shelves, however, reveals a paradox that finds a manifestation in almost every aspect of life in Gaza. On the surface, everyone seems to be normally going about their daily lives, but even purchasing behaviors are controlled by Israel. The Israeli government brags about the truckloads it allows into the Strip through the Karem Abu Salem commercial crossing point, but it always forgets, deliberately or not, to mention that the products that enter the Strip through this very crossing are mostly marked with 729, the made-in-Israel barcode.

First-time visitors are usually lured by this façade of normalcy. Many wonder how a territory under siege can have all that it has, and the supermarket example is often cited to prove that the blockade is not as bad as is often publicized in the media.

This simplistic view of the terms "siege" and "occupation" make it necessary to clear out some of the common misrepresentations of what it means to force a population of 1.6 million to live under a military siege and occupation for more than five and sixty years respectively.

First, it is important to note that life under siege does not mean that the population in question is necessarily starving. However, it necessarily means that this population constitutes a huge consumer market to its jailer — Israel in this case.

The Palestinian people in Gaza are forced to import and buy Israeli goods. With Israel's restrictions on local production and its more-than-once bombardment of Palestinian factories, it has become almost impossible for the besieged population to use available resources for local production.

Prior to Israel's deadly assault on the Turkish aid flotilla in late May 2010, Israeli products barely reached the Strip. But after a massive wave of criticism that was hailed on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he vowed to "ease" the blockade. Netanyahu fulfilled his promises. What followed was a tremendous inflow of Israeli goods that continues to be pumped in to this day.

The problem associated with consuming the goods of the occupying authority has two faces at least. Israeli products are high-priced, and, with few alternatives in place, Palestinians are forced to pay more for products that could be much cheaper if produced locally....

This means that 38.8% of Gazan people cannot afford the prices charged for the goods. [Yes, the author, a student of Business Administration in Gaza, claims that people classified as "poor" in Gaza cannot afford Coke. - EoZ] For them, the siege is more than whether the supermarket shelves are crammed; it is the fact that it makes them poor and causes difficult life conditions.

Due to the higher quality of Israel's exports to Gaza, combined with restrictions on domestic production, local businesses can hardly compete and rapidly lose market share to their Israeli counterparts. With limited amounts of money going for domestic production, Palestinian factory owners do little to enhance the quality of their output.
Notice the theme of Israel somehow restricting local Gaza businesses from producing locally sourced products. How exactly Israel controls local Gaza businesses is unexplained.
The more complex face of the problem lies in that Palestinians not only boost Israel's economy, but also make the occupation less costly. Israel, which denies the Palestinian people in the occupied territories the right to vote in the country's elections, controls what they eat and how they furnish their houses. Palestinians are made to fund the illegal settlements in the West Bank and deadly assaults such as that waged against Gaza in November, to name only two.
Gaza has a number of furniture factories that have, this season, exported goods. which means they are in business. Which means that they are selling in Gaza as well. Which means that the author is, simply, lying.
Living under siege does not result in a famine such as that in Somalia and other parts in Africa. It results in deteriorated living conditions and forced consumerism of the besieged population. 
Today's Gaza crisis: is now "forced consumerism." Not quite as sexy as "starvation" but when you hate Israel, you take what you can get.

This is similar to the laughable argument that Noam Sheizaf of 972 once made about a post of mine noting Israeli goods in Gaza markets, saying that Gazans were "forced" to buy them. I wondered if that included Chanukah coins, ice cream and snacks that were prominently displayed in these supermarkets, complete with Hebrew signage. Somehow, people who are "forced" to buy Israeli - whom Sheizaf claimed demanded that the world boycotts Israeli goods - couldn't find it in themselves to boycott non-essential snacks.

He never answered, of course.

By the way, outside of the flooding, nothing is stopping the tunnel trade from resuming and bringing quality, low cost Egyptian goods into Gaza to tap that huge market of people who cannot afford the expensive Israeli items. The free market is a powerful force, and the tunnel trade proved that Gazans can get what they want despite Israeli restrictions.

The entire article is a jumbled set of pseudo-facts intended to push the "Israel is bad" theme, without making a coherent argument. Of course, the fact that Gaza is run by a government sworn to utterly destroy Israel remains unmentioned in this nonsensical screed demanding, well, I'm not sure what. Cheaper potato chips? Unlimited imports and exports through Israel without any charge?

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, is also remarkably absent in this article.

And no wonder. The writer is also a contributor to Electronic Intifada, where truth is a far lower priority than anti-Israel propaganda.

(h/t Arnold)