Synagogue to become Hamas museum (& “an Islamic guide on how to beat your wife”)

September 29, 2005

* This is an update to previous dispatches on this list, including Palestinians “to rename settlements after Arafat and Yassin” (August 24, 2005) and A tale of two museums: (1) Arafat’s belongings (2) Arabs respecting the Holocaust (June 16, 2005)

 

CONTENTS

1. Chirac honored on Palestinian Authority stamps
2. An Islamic guide in Spain on how to beat your wife
3. New Orleans student takes up studies at Haifa University
4. New Zealand MP who said he was sick of the Holocaust is ousted
5. Arabs polled see Bush as a greater threat than Bin Laden
6. Omar Bakri Mohammad calls for Muslims to leave Europe
7. Hamas kidnap and murder Jerusalem resident
8. French dictionary contains anti-Semitic and racist definitions
9. “Synagogue to become Hamas museum” (Ynetnews, Sept. 21, 2005)
10. “French FM’s faux pas at Yad Vashem” (Ha’aretz, Sept. 19, 2005)
11. Dutch railways finally apologizes for deporting Jews during WWII
12. Wednesday’s massacre in Darfur by Arabs largely unreported by media
13. “Who Ruined Gaza?” (By Efraim Karsh, National Post, Sept. 16, 2005)

 



[Note by Tom Gross]

CHIRAC HONORED ON PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY STAMPS

Jacques Chirac and Yasser Arafat have been honored together on two Palestinian Authority Stamps – an acknowledgement of the tireless support which Chirac gave Arafat on the international stage, as well as his friendship for other Arab dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad. These stamps can be viewed online at several websites, including www.france-echos.com/actualite.php?cle=6887.

AN ISLAMIC GUIDE ON HOW TO BEAT YOUR WIFE

The Spanish press report today that an imam who wrote a book on how to beat your wife without leaving marks on her body has been ordered by a judge to study the country’s constitution.

The judge in Spain told Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, imam of a mosque in the southern Spanish town of Fuengirola, to spend six months studying three articles of the constitution and the universal declaration of human rights.

In his book “Women in Islam,” Mustafa wrote “The blows to a disobedient wife should be concentrated on the hands and feet using a rod that is thin and light so that it does not leave scars or bruises on the body.”

According to La Vanguardia newspaper, Mustafa will have to study articles 10, 14 and 15 of the constitution. The first two address “the dignity of a person and inviolable rights” and states “all Spaniards are equal before the law.” The third one states “the moral and physical integrity of a person in no case can be submitted to torture nor inhuman or degrading punishments or treatment.”

NEW ORLEANS STUDENT TAKES UP STUDIES AT HAIFA UNIVERSITY

In the dispatch Al Qaeda, Kuwaitis & Iranians “congratulate” Hurricane Katrina, and thank Allah (September 7, 2005) it was reported that four Israeli universities were offering to help students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Sasha Parsons Solomon was a student of Loyola University in New Orleans for just four days when she was ordered to evacuate before the hurricane hit. The University of Haifa will house Solomon for free in student dormitories and she will receive a year of tuition without fees.

The university’s spokespeople have re-emphasized that although Solomon is Jewish, the offer of free tuition is available to any New Orleans student regardless of religion or creed.

UPDATE ON NEW ZEALAND MP WHO SAID HE WAS SICK OF THE HOLOCAUST

In the dispatch titled New Zealand MP says he is sick of the Holocaust (& other items) (April 12, 2005), it was reported that John Tamihere, a Labor MP in New Zealand, said he was “sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed”.

In the parliamentary elections recently held in New Zealand, Tamihere lost his seat in Tamaki Makaurau. Tamihere said after the elections that this may not be the end of politics for him but he has plenty of options including partnership in a law firm or the manager of an investment company.

ARABS SEE BUSH AS A GREATER THREAT THAN BIN LADEN

A congressionally mandated panel, the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy, concluded that President George Bush is regarded in the Arab world as a greater threat than Osama Bin Laden.

After a fact-finding mission in the Middle East the panel concluded that “America’s image and reputation abroad could hardly be worse.” It said that in much of the world the U.S. is viewed “less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered.”

OMAR BAKRI MOHAMMAD CALLS FOR MUSLIMS TO LEAVE EUROPE

Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammad, who has been banned from Britain since August, called on all Muslims to leave Europe in an interview on France 3 on Monday.

Bakri, the head of Al Muhajirun, said “There must be two distinct camps and so all Muslims must leave Europe.” He called on European converts to Islam to join him in Beirut “to learn Arabic before returning to Europe.” He went on to declare that he was convinced “the Islamic flag will fly one day over Downing Street.”

In the interview he also said that the backgrounds of the London bombers confirmed that the message of Osama Bin Laden “has reached the moderate communities.”

HAMAS KIDNAP AND MURDER JERUSALEM JEWISH MAN

Hamas claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of Sasson Nuriel, an Israeli Jew, earlier this week. The terrorist group released a videotape of Nuriel shortly before his murder, reminiscent of terrorist videotapes of hostages in Iraq.

On the video, Nuriel, who had his face blindfolded with a green Hamas cloth and his hands bound behind his back, urged the Israeli government in Arabic to release all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The video also shows Nuriel sitting in front of a green Hamas banner.

Hamas kidnapped 10 soldiers between 1989 and 1996, at which time it switched tactics to suicide bombings.

Nuriel’s family described him as “A family man, a working man, who worked with Arabs for years, and accepted them as he accepted all human beings.”

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY FORENSIC REPORT CONFIRMS HAMAS RESPONSIBILITY FOR EXPLOSION AT MILITARY PARADE

In the last dispatch (1) Bibi-v-Arik showdown today (2) The media, Hamas, and Rita (September 26, 2005) there was a note on the Hamas military parade explosion that killed 19 Palestinians. As part of its policy of telling total lies and hoping sympathetic western reporters will broadcast them, Hamas claimed Israel was responsible.

A report by the Palestinian Interior Ministry’s explosive unit has now confirmed that Hamas itself was responsible for this explosion. Shrapnel in the bodies of people killed in the blast came from homemade Hamas rockets, according to the P.A.

The forensic report said the shrapnel resembled that used in Qassam rockets used by Hamas. Following the blast, Hamas fired over 25 rockets into Israel at Israeli civilians.

DESTROYED NETZARIM SYNAGOGUE TO BE HAMAS MUSEUM

Ynetnews reports that a synagogue in the former Jewish settlement of Netzarim will be converted into a Hamas museum. Hamas has promised that visitors will be able to see missiles and rockets as well as weapons used in suicide bombing attacks that killed Israelis.

This is another example of the glorification of death, murder, and martyrdom that became so prominent in Palestinian society since Yasser Arafat’s return to Gaza in 1994.

FRENCH FM IN FAUX PAS AT YAD VASHEM

The new French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, (he was appointed in June) has been involved in an embarrassing exchange at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Douste-Blazy asked Yad Vashem officials why British Jewish communities had not been killed in the Holocaust. As a source close to the Foreign Minister says in the Ha’aretz article below, surely all Frenchman knew of Britain’s role during the Second World War since “General de Gaulle led the operations of the Resistance from exile in London.”

FRENCH DICTIONARY CONTAINS ANTI-SEMITIC AND RACIST DEFINITIONS

A French dictionary was recalled this week after a computer virus resulted in it containing anti-Semitic definitions. The 2005 edition of Le Petit Littre had reverted to an 1874 edition.

The 1874 edition contained racist and anti-Semitic definitions for the words, “yellow”, “Negro” and “Jew”. The publishers said the forthcoming 2006 edition would contain a foreword explaining the evolution of some of the offensive terms.

DUTCH RAILWAYS FINALLY APOLOGIZES FOR DEPORTING JEWS

After decades of campaigning by Jewish groups, Dutch railways today finally admitted its active role in the Holocaust and apologized for helping to round up Jews and transport them forcibly to Auschwitz and other death camps. Aad Veenman, chief executive of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, acknowledged today that his firm had helped the Nazis deport 107,000 Dutch Jews – 70 percent of the country’s Jewish community – to death camps in Germany and Poland.

“On behalf of the company and from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize for what happened during the war,” Veenman said at a ceremony at Muiderpoort station in Amsterdam.

Contrary to widespread myth that the Dutch are tolerant, the Dutch were some of the most pro-active killers of Jews anywhere in Europe during World War Two.

DARFUR: THE KILLING CONTINUES

On Wednesday night, around 300 armed Arabs slaughtered Black African refugees in a UN refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan. As usual, this atrocity has barely been reported in the international media.

Since February 2003 more than 300,000 have died in Darfur, mostly Africans at the hands of the Arab gangs, and an estimated 2 million people have been driven from their homes.

PLEASE LET US GO TO GAZA

It is estimated that 100 Egyptian brides were smuggled into Gaza last week. Women from Egypt are much cheaper in terms of dowry payments than those in the Gaza Strip. A bride named Samira told the Jerusalem Post that “this was an opportunity that should not be missed.” She went on to say that “the economic situation in Egypt is not as good as in the Gaza Strip.” This view is not often reported on BBC and CNN.

The final article below is by Prof. Efraim Karsh (who is a long-time subscriber to this email list), and illustrates the changes Gaza has gone through under Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian rule.

I attach three articles with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

DESTROYED SYNAGOGUE TO BECOME HAMAS MUSEUM

“Synagogue to become Hamas museum” (By Ali Waked, Ynetnews, September 21, 2005)

The destroyed synagogue in the evacuated Gaza settlement of Netzarim is expected to be converted into a temporary Hamas museum in the next few days.

On Saturday members of Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, plan to set up an exhibit of the terror group’s “military industry” in what used to be a synagogue…

Hamas promises that visitors will be able to see all of the weapons, “from stones to instruments used in suicide attacks and the ‘tunnel war.’” Missiles and rockets will also be on display, the groups said.

The decision to use the synagogue for the display was not coincidental. Immediately following the IDF’s withdrawal from Gaza senior Hamas members said, “The synagogues are not religious structures, as they were built illegally.”

... The exhibit is part of Hamas’ show of strength, which is aimed a celebrating the army’s pullout, raising the group’s profile ahead of the upcoming Palestinian elections and warning all those who are considering to disqualify Hamas from participating in the general elections in accordance with Israel’s demand...

 

FRENCH FM ASKS WHY NO BRITISH JEWS DIED IN HOLOCAUST

“Ha’aretz investigates French FM’s faux pas at Yad Vashem” (By Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz, September 19, 2005)

The French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine reported in its September 14th issue that during the visit of French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem on September 8, he asked - while perusing maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed - whether British Jews were not also murdered. Needless to say, Douste-Blazy’s question was met by his hosts with amazement. “But Monsieur le minister,” Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, “England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II.”

The minister apparently was not content with this answer, which, according to the magazine, was given by the museum curator, and persisted, asking: “Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?”

... According to an investigation by Ha’aretz on Sunday, the event actually occurred as described, although no official source was willing to confirm it...

Philippe Douste-Blazy is considered a successful and prominent politician in France. A cardiologist by training, he served until a year ago as health minister. His visit to Israel was noted as an additional positive step in the warming of relations between Israel and France.

 

“CAN YOU IMAGINE YET ANOTHER NATION ON THE SHORES OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN?”

“Who Ruined Gaza?” (By Efraim Karsh, National Post, Canada, September 16, 2005)

...During their 19-year occupation of the Gaza Strip (1948-67), the Egyptians ruled the area with an iron fist, keeping the local population in squalid, harshly supervised camps, where they could serve as a rallying point for anti-Israel sentiment. Life expectancy was low, malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife, and the level of education was low. Palestinians were denied Egyptian citizenship and were subjected to severe restrictions on travel and work, with unemployment among refugees running above 80%. “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser candidly responded to a Western reporter in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean?”

The passing of Gaza (and the West Bank) into the hands of Israel led to dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life, placing the population of the territories well ahead of most of their Arab neighbors. Unlike Nasser, the Israelis were not interested in keeping the Palestinians artificially subjugated as a prop to demonstrate Arab suffering. Schools, hospitals and other civic amenities were built, and the economy exploded...

Since the PA’s creation in May 1994, the international community has committed an estimated US$10-billion to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. But donor states turned a blind eye to the systematic misuse of these funds through their diversion to racist incitement, weaponry and secret bank accounts. Extensive protection and racketeering networks run by PA officials sprang up, while the national budget was plundered at will by PLO veterans and Arafat’s cronies...

To make things worse, from the moment of his arrival in Gaza, Arafat set out to build an extensive terrorist infrastructure. He refused to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as required by the Oslo accords, and tacitly approved the murder of hundreds of Israelis. He also reconstructed the PLO’s own terrorist apparatus, mainly under the auspices of the tanzim, which is the military arm of Fatah (the PLO’s largest constituent organization and Arafat’s own alma mater)...

One can only wonder what Wolfensohn, who has contributed US$500,000 of his own money to the development of Gaza, thinks about the events that have transpired in the days since the Israeli withdrawal. Greenhouses purchased for Gazans have been looted and smashed. Former synagogues have been burnt. The Egyptian border is being used to smuggle weapons. (Thanks to the new glut, the price of AK-47 assault rifles has apparently fallen by 50% in the last week.) Meanwhile, Hamas and rogue elements from Fatah are openly challenging the Palestinian Authority. The territory seems to be dissolving into chaos. Some will no doubt blame Israel for this, as well: The fact there are no Jews left in Gaza will not impede those who insist on seeing all Palestinians as victims of the Jewish state.

In fact, it is Palestinians’ own leaders who bear the blame for the miserable state of Gaza, and of Palestinian society more generally. Only when these leaders, and the groups that challenge them, renounce violence as a political tool and embrace civilized values such as rule of law will Gaza flourish.

 



FULL ARTICLES

DESTROYED SYNAGOGUE TO BECOME HAMAS MUSEUM

Synagogue to become Hamas museum
Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, plans to set up exhibit of the terror group’s ‘military industry’ in synagogue of evacuated settlement of Netzarim. On display: Suicide attack apparatus, missiles stones used to ‘abolish the Gaza occupation’
By Ali Waked
Ynetnews
September 21, 2005

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3145170,00.html

The destroyed synagogue in the evacuated Gaza settlement of Netzarim is expected to be converted into a temporary Hamas museum in the next few days.

On Saturday members of Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, plan to set up an exhibit of the terror group’s “military industry” in what used to be a synagogue.

The exhibit is set to be on display for three days, and will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The group said in a statement that “all of the tools used by Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades to abolish the Gaza occupation will be on display.”

Hamas promises that visitors will be able to see all of the weapons, “from stones to instruments used in suicide attacks and the ‘tunnel war.’” Missiles and rockets will also be on display, the groups said.

The decision to use the synagogue for the display was not coincidental. Immediately following the IDF’s withdrawal from Gaza senior Hamas members said, “The synagogues are not religious structures, as they were built illegally.”

Marching to West Bank settlements

The exhibit is part of Hamas’ show of strength, which is aimed a celebrating the army’s pullout, raising the group’s profile ahead of the upcoming Palestinian elections and warning all those who are considering to disqualify Hamas from participating in the general elections in accordance with Israel’s demand.

Palestinian Authority officials say Hamas is also trying to present itself as an alternative to the Authority with organized political and military branches.

Another military parade in celebration of the IDF’s withdrawal from the northern West Bank is set to take place in Jenin Wednesday. Organizers are planning a march from Jenin toward the nearby settlements of Ganim and Kadim, which were evacuated by the IDF on Tuesday.

Armed al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Fatah’s military wing) members as well as representatives of other terror groups are expected to lead the march. School children are also scheduled to participate in the celebrations.

 

FRENCH FM ASKS WHY NO BRITISH JEWS DIED IN HOLOCAUST

Ha’aretz investigates French FM’s faux pas at Yad Vashem
By Avirama Golan
Ha’aretz
September 19, 2005

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/626303.html

The French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine reported in its September 14th issue that during the visit of French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem on September 8, he asked - while perusing maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed - whether British Jews were not also murdered. Needless to say, Douste-Blazy’s question was met by his hosts with amazement. “But Monsieur le minister,” Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, “England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II.”

The minister apparently was not content with this answer, which, according to the magazine, was given by the museum curator, and persisted, asking: “Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?”

Douste-Blazy arrived in Israel earlier this month for a first visit, as the guest of his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

According to an investigation by Ha’aretz on Sunday, the event actually occurred as described, although no official source was willing to confirm it. Douste-Blazy did visit Yad Vashem on September 8, at 11 A.M. He was in fact escorted by the curator of the museum, his entourage from the French foreign ministry and several French reporters.

One of the escorts confirmed on Sunday, on condition of anonymity, that the quotes in Le Canard were accurate, and that they caused great embarrassment. “It’s a bit difficult to understand,” the source said, “how an educated French person, who was serving in the French government during the huge celebrations of the Normandy landings, does not remember basic facts about the history of World War II, and especially Britain’s role, especially in light of the fact, that France’s great leader, General de Gaulle, led the operations of the Resistance from exile in London.”

The French embassy in Israel learned of the embarrassing incident from Le Canard.

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said in response that the French foreign minister had visited the Holocaust memorial site at the said date and time, and that she hoped his visit was “successful and enriching.”

Philippe Douste-Blazy is considered a successful and prominent politician in France. A cardiologist by training, he served until a year ago as health minister. His visit to Israel was noted as an additional positive step in the warming of relations between Israel and France.

 

WHO RUINED GAZA?

Who Ruined Gaza?
By Efraim Karsh
National Post (Canada)
September 16, 2005

No sooner had Israel completed its withdrawal of 8,000 Jewish citizens from the Gaza Strip than official Palestinian spokesmen proclaimed that this move would not end the occupation -- since Israel would continue to control the region’s coast and air space.

In fact, Israel’s occupation of the Strip ended not in August, 2005, but 11 years earlier. The declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May, 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from Gaza (apart from various Israeli settlements) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On July 1, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza, and shortly afterward both the Israeli civil administration and military government were dissolved.

From then on, Gaza’s Palestinian population no longer lived under Israeli occupation, but rather under the jurisdiction of the Arafat-led Palestinian Authority (PA). As the virulently anti-Israel tone of Palestinian media and school curricula shows, not to mention the territory’s extensive terrorist network, the Israeli presence during this period was virtually non-existent.

But Palestinians and their supporters were not about to give up the “occupation” charge. Since the Israeli conquest of Gaza and the West Bank during the 1967 Six Day war, the term has become the Palestinian trump propaganda card, allowing them not only to demonize Israel and justify terrorism, but also to extract substantial international aid. This week, as the Israeli army evacuated its last troops from Gaza, billions more dollars were set to flow in.

The Palestinians argue that such funds are necessary to repair the damage caused by Israelis. Upon his arrival in Gaza in 1994, Arafat lost no time in painting conditions there in the blackest possible shades. “You can’t imagine the poor shape in which we received Gaza,” he complained. “The infrastructure was totally ruined. The Israelis took everything before their departure: doors, windows, light bulbs, and taps ... There is no ill from which Gaza does not suffer.”

This claim was divorced from reality. During their 19-year occupation of the Gaza Strip (1948-67), the Egyptians ruled the area with an iron fist, keeping the local population in squalid, harshly supervised camps, where they could serve as a rallying point for anti-Israel sentiment. Life expectancy was low, malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife, and the level of education was low. Palestinians were denied Egyptian citizenship and were subjected to severe restrictions on travel and work, with unemployment among refugees running above 80%. “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser candidly responded to a Western reporter in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean?”

The passing of Gaza (and the West Bank) into the hands of Israel led to dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life, placing the population of the territories well ahead of most of their Arab neighbors. Unlike Nasser, the Israelis were not interested in keeping the Palestinians artificially subjugated as a prop to demonstrate Arab suffering. Schools, hospitals and other civic amenities were built, and the economy exploded.

During the 1970’s, in fact, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world -- ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. Although GNP per capita grew somewhat more slowly thanks to the rapidly expanding Palestinian population, the rate was still high by international standards, with per-capita GNP expanding tenfold between 1968 and 1991 from US$165 to US$1,715 (compared with Jordan’s US$1,050, Egypt’s US$600, Turkey’s US$1,630, and Tunisia’s US$1,440).

Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians also made vast progress in social welfare. Life expectancy rose from 48 in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000. (In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, by comparison, the rate was 64, in Egypt 40, in Jordan 23, in Syria 22). And under a systematic program of inoculation, childhood diseases such as polio, whooping cough, tetanus and measles were eradicated.

No less remarkable were advances in the Palestinians’ standard of living. By 1986, 93% of the population in the West Bank and Gaza had electricity around the clock, as compared with 21% in 1967; 85% had running water in dwellings, as compared to 16% in 1967; 84% had electric or gas ranges for cooking, as compared to 4% in 1967; and so on for refrigerators, televisions and cars.

Finally, during the two decades preceding the intifada of the late 1980’s, the number of enrolled schoolchildren in the territories grew by 102%, though the population itself had grown by only 28%. Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. At the onset of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, not a single university existed in these territories. By the early 1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting some 16,500 students, as compared with six in Israel itself. Illiteracy rates dropped to 14% of those over age 15, compared with 69% in Morocco, 61% in Egypt, 45% in Tunisia, and 44% in Syria.

But all of these economic and social achievements were steadily undone during the 1990s as the population of the territories came under the PA’s jurisdiction.

Since the PA’s creation in May 1994, the international community has committed an estimated US$10-billion to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. But donor states turned a blind eye to the systematic misuse of these funds through their diversion to racist incitement, weaponry and secret bank accounts. Extensive protection and racketeering networks run by PA officials sprang up, while the national budget was plundered at will by PLO veterans and Arafat’s cronies.

Their most notorious rackets derived from the monopoly rights for the production and sale of virtually all basic goods affecting the population’s daily life, from wheat, petrol, and cement, to wood, gravel, cigarettes, and cars. This has not only allowed the ruling elite to make large profits at the expense of ordinary Palestinians, but has also had a detrimental effect on the economy as a whole by preventing competition and discouraging entrepreneurship.

To make things worse, from the moment of his arrival in Gaza, Arafat set out to build an extensive terrorist infrastructure. He refused to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as required by the Oslo accords, and tacitly approved the murder of hundreds of Israelis. He also reconstructed the PLO’s own terrorist apparatus, mainly under the auspices of the tanzim, which is the military arm of Fatah (the PLO’s largest constituent organization and Arafat’s own alma mater).

Eventually, Arafat resorted to outright mass violence, first in September, 1996, to publicly discredit the newly-elected Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then in September, 2000, with the launch of his all-out terror war (euphemistically called the al-Aqsa Intifada), this shortly after being offered by Netanyahu’s successor, Ehud Barak, the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and 92% of the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

This combination of corruption and terrorism proved catastrophic. When the declaration of principles was signed on the White House lawn in September, 1993, conditions in the territories were still better than those in most neighbouring Arab states -- despite the economic decline caused by the first intifada of 1987-93. But within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza, the standard of living in the strip fell by 25%, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israel.

Things got much worse in 2000. War is by its nature a destructive endeavour, and Arafat’s terror war was no exception, inflicting great damage on Israel but also eradicating the fragile fabric of civil society that had been developing in the territories during the decades prior to his arrival. Unemployment increased from 10% to an average of 41% during 2002, and the proportion of the population that was poor rose from 20% to over 50%. Private investment and trade fell dramatically.

According to a recent World Bank report, “the precipitator of this economic crisis has been the “restriction on the movement of goods and people” imposed by Israel to protect its citizens. But this analysis substitutes cause for effect. For it is not the closure of Palestinian areas that has precipitated the Palestinian economic malaise but rather the tidal wave of suicide bombers that made this closure inevitable.

Shortly before the launch of the Palestinian war of terror, the then-President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn justified the high levels of international aid to the West Bank and Gaza by claiming that continued economic development was the key to peace. Wolfensohn is now the international special envoy for disengagement, and he continues to make this argument: “This is a moment of destiny,” he recently said. “Both sides need to understand the issue that the economic and social development of the West Bank and Gaza is part of Israel’s security.”

One can only wonder what Wolfensohn, who has contributed US$500,000 of his own money to the development of Gaza, thinks about the events that have transpired in the days since the Israeli withdrawal. Greenhouses purchased for Gazans have been looted and smashed. Former synagogues have been burnt. The Egyptian border is being used to smuggle weapons. (Thanks to the new glut, the price of AK-47 assault rifles has apparently fallen by 50% in the last week.) Meanwhile, Hamas and rogue elements from Fatah are openly challenging the Palestinian Authority. The territory seems to be dissolving into chaos. Some will no doubt blame Israel for this, as well: The fact there are no Jews left in Gaza will not impede those who insist on seeing all Palestinians as victims of the Jewish state.

In fact, it is Palestinians’ own leaders who bear the blame for the miserable state of Gaza, and of Palestinian society more generally. Only when these leaders, and the groups that challenge them, renounce violence as a political tool and embrace civilized values such as rule of law will Gaza flourish.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.