A school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a UN agency that deals exclusively with Palestinians, has published cartoons encouraging students and others to kill Jews by running them over. One of the cartoons is above. A spate of car attacks in recent months by Palestinians has left four Israelis dead and over 30 injured.
Former BBC foreign news producer Chris Gunness, who is chief spokesperson for UNRWA, has long been criticized for covering up UNRWA’s unchecked extremists. Just two days ago, on August 23, Gunness (who is British) tweeted: “An @UNRWA education is a passport to dignity amid rising extremism in the #MiddleEast.” Gunness posted a further comment that the education provided by UNRWA is “essential”.
(The cartoon story was unearthed by the intrepid anonymous blogger “Elder of Ziyon” who has exposed a series of scandals at UNRWA.)
Tom Gross writes:
For some years, this website has been running photos of the “other Gaza” – the one that anti-Israel media such as The New York Times and BBC refuse to show you. (For example, here in 2010: Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size swim pools: what the media won’t report about Gaza.)
Yesterday, The Washington Post ran a series of photos (such as the one above, of the sauna room in one of Gaza’s new gyms) on the richer side of Gaza. Echoing previous dispatches on this list, the Post’s Middle East correspondent William Booth writes of “the massage therapists, spin classes and private beach resorts… the new luxury-car dealerships, boutiques selling designer jeans and ‘Sushi Nights’.”
Nothing could contrast more starkly with the international edition of the New York Times, the opinion page of which this morning is yet again dominated by distorted and partisan coverage of Gaza. Today’s piece compares Gaza to a “gulag”. Since the New York Times did much to cover up Stalin’s crimes in the 1930s, they might not know just what a gulag is.
In fact the Washington Post article (carried below) explores only the tip of the iceberg of some of the wealth in Gaza. There is a great deal more. Of course there is much poverty in Gaza too. But then there are also poor and rundown areas of New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris. (This is not to say that there aren’t serious political and economic problems in Gaza that need to be resolved, but it doesn’t help when much of the media is so one-sided about what they report.)
* Among my articles on Gaza: A modest proposal: Qatar could win by letting Gaza host the World Cup (The Guardian)
Wojciech Cegielski, the former Gaza correspondent for Polish Radio, writes today:
“I spent a month in Gaza during the 2014 war. Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people. It was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and, worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.
“In one incident, a man drove up in a pickup to our street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a Palestinian building. On another day, I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels.” (Full article below.)
Stephen Daisley, who is the digital political correspondent for Scottish TV (and a longtime subscriber to this email list), defies the rest of the (extremely anti-Israel) Scottish media and writes as follows about the odds-on favorite to be elected leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn:
“What do you have to say about Jews not to be invited to Parliament by Jeremy Corbyn? He invited ‘friends’ from Hezbollah and Hamas, both proscribed terrorist organisations. He invited Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement, to tea on the Commons terrace. Salah promotes the blood libel that Jews murder children for blood to bake in their matzah. He invited Dyab Abou Jahjah and shared a platform with the Belgian radical. Abou Jahjah who says Europe has adopted ‘the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion’, and in response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons he called on Arabs to spray paint walls across Europe with ‘hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp, and Aids spreading fagots’.
“Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. How I wish that he were. How much easier it would make things. We could chalk all this up to the prejudices of one man and we could avoid the raw, awkward conversation we’re about to have. Because this isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn; he’s just a symptom and a symbol. The Left, and not just the fringes, has an anti-Semitism problem…
“Contrary to left-wing mythology, anti-Jewish prejudice has never been the exclusive preserve of aristocratic snobs or skinhead fantasists. ‘The Jew is the enemy of the human race,’ declared Proudhon. ‘One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.’ Bakunin labelled Jews ‘bloodsucking people’ while Orwell, self-consciously anti-Semitic, even obsessed over the excessive number of Jews sheltering in London’s Underground during World War II. (No matter what the Jews do to protect themselves, it’s always disproportionate.)…
“Every pathology of the anti-Semite can be visited upon the Jewish state in the flimsy guise of “anti-imperialism” or “human rights”. It’s all okay because it’s “Zionism” you’re against and that’s not the same thing as Jews and what about Jews who are anti-Zionist. The hallmark of a bigot is seizing on dissonant voices within a minority community [self-hating Jews] and using them to delegitimise the mainstream of that community. The exception becomes the rule and those whose only connection to Jewish communal life is signing onto letters to the Guardian denouncing Israel become more Jewish than everyone else.”
The full piece is below. And no, Stephen, isn’t Jewish for those who have accused him of being so.
For my own note on Corbyn, who looks set to be voted in as the most radical leader of any significant political party in a major western power, see the first item on this dispatch:
Tom Gross adds:
Almost 80,000 British citizens have now signed a petition urging the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “war crimes” when he visits London next month. If the number of signatories reaches 100,000, the petition can be considered for debate in Britain’s parliament. There is no other similar hostile move among Britons against the leader of any other country in the world apart from the world’s only Jewish state.
New York Post editorial: “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions has started seeing some serious pushback. In Spain, Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu performed Saturday at the Rototom Sunsplash festival. The organizers re-invited him after they’d canceled because of the BDS crew…
“Oprah Winfrey stood up to the thugs, too. A BDS ‘delegation’ showed up at her magazine’s New York offices this month, carrying a letter urging Oprah to publicly reject Israeli jeweler Lev Leviev’s products. Neither Oprah nor her executives would even meet with the agitators…
“In October, New Jersey’s second-favorite native sons, Bon Jovi, will end their current tour in Tel Aviv, rejecting BDS pressure to cancel the concerts… In Paris this month, Mayor Anne Hidalgo dedicated an artificial beach to Tel Aviv – despite intense opposition from the BDS movement and its sympathizers in the French media.”
* Please “like” these dispatches on Facebook here www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia, where you can also find other items that are not in these dispatches.
1. “Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. It’s so much worse than that” (By Stephen Daisley , Scottish TV, August 24, 2015)
2. “I saw Hamas' cruel and selfish game in Gaza” (By Wojciech Cegielski, Haaretz, August 25, 2015)
3. “Gaza Strip’s middle class enjoys spin classes, fine dining, private beaches” (By William Booth, Washington Post, August 24, 2015)
4. “Denying the Israel-bashers – kudos to Oprah and other principled stars” (New York Post Editorial, August 23, 2015)
JEREMY CORBYN IS NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE. IT’S SO MUCH WORSE THAN THAT
Analysis: Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. It’s so much worse than that
By Stephen Daisley
Scottish TV website
24 August 2015
What do you have to say about Jews not to be invited to Parliament by Jeremy Corbyn?
The Labour leadership frontrunner has a singular talent for extending a warm welcome to anti-Semites and extremists.
He invited “friends” from Hezbollah and Hamas, both proscribed terrorist organisations. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says of Jews: “If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”. Hamas is committed by charter to “struggle against the Jews” until the “obliteration” of the State of Israel.
He invited Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement, to tea on the Commons terrace. Salah promotes the blood libel that Jews murder children for blood to bake in their matzah and claims that thousands of Jews stayed home from work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11, a key component of the conspiracy theory that Jews and not Islamic fundamentalists were behind the attacks.
He invited Dyab Abou Jahjah and shared a platform with the Belgian radical. Abou Jahjah called the killing of British soldiers in Iraq “a victory” and the 9/11 terrorist atrocities “sweet revenge”. He says Europe has adopted “the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion”, and in response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons he called on Arabs to spray paint walls across Europe with “hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp, and Aids spreading fagots”.
Elsewhere, his connections to Holocaust-denier Paul Eisen have been documented by the Jewish Chronicle. Corbyn claimed in an interview with Channel 4 News that he had no contact with Eisen in recent times but might have given money to his organisation some years ago. In fact, as JC political correspondent Marcus Dysch has revealed, Corbyn attended a 2013 event for Eisen’s Deir Yassin Remembered group.
A JC poll finds 67% of British Jews “concerned” about the Islington North MP becoming Labour leader. The newspaper warns that Corbyn risks being perceived as “an enemy of Britain’s Jewish community” and has implored him to answer questions about his associations with anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.
This he has failed to do to any satisfaction. He cannot recall meeting Abou Jahjah, despite a picture of the two of them sitting side-by-side on a panel. He was unaware of Eisen’s views at the time. He stresses that Salah “did not at any stage utter any antisemitic remarks to me”.
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. How I wish that he were. How much easier it would make things. We could chalk all this up to the prejudices of one man and we could avoid the raw, awkward conversation we’re about to have. Because this isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn; he’s just a symptom and a symbol. The Left, and not just the fringes, has an anti-Semitism problem.
Contrary to left-wing mythology, anti-Jewish prejudice has never been the exclusive preserve of aristocratic snobs or skinhead fantasists. “The Jew is the enemy of the human race,” declared Proudhon. “One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.” Bakunin labelled Jews “bloodsucking people” while Orwell, self-consciously anti-Semitic, even obsessed over the excessive number of Jews sheltering in London’s Underground during World War II. (No matter what the Jews do to protect themselves, it’s always disproportionate.) Marx, the grandson of a rabbi, essayed: “Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism – huckstering and its preconditions – the Jew will have become impossible”.
The contemporary Left, in most cases, would recognise these statements as irrational prejudice. But what if we substituted “Zionist” for “Jew”, what would happen then? How many would object to “Zionists” being termed enemies of the human race? How many would be glad to see the “Zionist” become impossible? Anti-Zionism has removed much of the need for classical anti-Semitism by recycling the old superstitions as a political critique of the State of Israel. Why risk the ridicule that comes with quoting The Protocols of the Elders of Zion when you can cite The Israel Lobby and win eager nods from academics and commentators? Why deny the Holocaust when you can throw it back in the Jews’ faces by fictionalising Gaza as a concentration camp? Why hurl rocks at a Jew in the street when you can hurl endless vexatious UN resolutions at Israel?
Every pathology of the anti-Semite can be visited upon the Jewish state in the flimsy guise of “anti-imperialism” or “human rights”. It’s all okay because it’s “Zionism” you’re against and that’s not the same thing as Jews and what about Jews who are anti-Zionist. The hallmark of a bigot is seizing on dissonant voices within a minority community and using them to delegitimise the mainstream of that community. The exception becomes the rule and those whose only connection to Jewish communal life is signing onto letters to the Guardian denouncing Israel become more Jewish than everyone else.
It shouldn’t have to be said but since stupidity is nearing pandemic levels these days I’ll say it all the same. There is nothing anti-Semitic about criticising Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud-led government, or the policies of the State of Israel. There is nothing anti-Semitic about sympathising with the plight of the Palestinians (though it might be nice to recognise their culpability in the conflict too). There is nothing anti-Semitic about lacerating Israel for walls and checkpoints and bombs (though do address your alternative strategies to Beit Aghion, 9 Smolenskin Street, Jerusalem, Israel.)
The Left’s unhinged antipathy towards the State of Israel has let loose ugly sentiments wholly unmoored from such legitimate criticisms. Israel is execrated as uniquely malignant and its enemies held up as plucky freedom-fighters or victim-idols. Corbyn and his like sup with Hamas and Hezbollah, they say, because we must talk to all sides to resolve the conflict, even the extreme and unpleasant. It would never occur to them to invite representatives of the Jewish Defence League to Parliament or to count Baruch Marzel or Michael Ben-Ari as “friends”.
Why don’t the policies of the Chinese government in Tibet or against the Uighurs in Xinjiang inspire comparable protests and boycotts? Why do none of our cultural warriors demand the Edinburgh Festival kick out Russian-sponsored acts over Chechnya or Crimea? Why is produce from Iran or Pakistan never flung upon the floors of the nation’s supermarkets in solidarity with Muslim gays and women? Why is Deir Yassin remembered but not Safed or Hebron or the Hadassah convoy?
The problem goes deeper than asymmetry. For too many on the Left, Jewish suffering does not touch them the way Muslim suffering or gay suffering or black suffering touches them. Scrutiny of Corbyn’s associations elicits cries of “smear” or just a collective shrug of the shoulders. It was always going to. We lack a language to talk about anti-Semitism because too many on the Left don’t consider it a serious problem and couldn’t recognise it as readily as racism, misogyny or homophobia anyway.
When Labour MP Paul Flynn challenged the appointment of Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel, demanding instead “someone with roots in the UK” who “can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty”, there was little more than a few murmurs.
The Liberal Democrats looked the other way when their former peer Jenny Tonge urged an inquiry into whether Israeli medics helping earthquake victims in Haiti had actually gone there to harvest their organs. That party also failed to expel ex-MP David Ward, who accused “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”.
And who would come forward to cast the first stone? The Independent, which once published a cartoon of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby? The Guardian, which marked Holocaust Memorial Day 2012 with an expose on public money going to security for Jewish schools? How about the New Statesman, publisher of a notorious cover story on the supposed “kosher conspiracy” influencing Britain?
Those who are questioning Jeremy Corbyn’s associations are dismissed as “extreme Zionists” and yet I struggle to imagine critics of a politician’s links to white supremacists being shouted down as “black nationalists”. The Left gets racism; it doesn’t get anti-Semitism. It’s forever on Cable Street battling a long-gone menace while around the corner thousands march and chant “from the river to the sea”.
Ruth Wisse defines anti-Semitism as “the organisation of politics against the Jews” and says it owes more to political ideology than clerical prejudice. Against the intolerable opening-up of political institutions, social structures and markets brought about by liberalism, anti-Semites offer the Jew as the symbol of conniving and decadence, sinister motives and hidden agendas. It has worked nicely for Soviet communists and Arab nationalists, as for Islamist theocrats and European fascists.
Israel has become the Jew of world affairs, affluent, successful, provocatively different. A rooted cosmopolitan that is to blame for being the only country in that region that is free and open and truly democratic. Why must it taunt its neighbours so?
If only Israel allowed Hamas to build up its terror statelet in Gaza unimpeded, angry Muslim youths wouldn’t riot in the French banlieues. If only Jews were driven once again from Kfar Etzion and Giv’on HaHadasha – this time not in blood but in cushioned, air-conditioned UN buses – there would be no more 9/11s. If only Jews had no national homeland, returned to rootlessness and the kindness of Christian and Islamic hosts, synagogues would no longer be daubed in swastikas and Free Gazas.
As the left-wing Israeli novelist Amos Oz wrote: “When my father was a little boy in Poland, the streets of Europe were covered with graffiti, ‘Jews, go back to Palestine’, or sometimes worse: ‘Dirty Yids, piss off to Palestine’. When my father revisited Europe fifty years later, the walls were covered with new graffiti, ‘Jews, get out of Palestine’.”
To be an anti-Zionist is to say the Jews alone have no national rights. The Left are committed internationalists; they just make an exception for every country in the world besides Israel. Today a European leftist is someone who sees “Jews, get out of Palestine” on a wall and tuts, before scoring out “Jews” and writing “Zionists” above it.
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite and nor are most people on the Left. He is a petition-signer who never reads the small-print, a sincere man blinded as so many radicals are by hatred of the United States and Western power. But his ascendancy comes at a time of great upheaval and populist torrents battering the centre-left and centre-right. It is a storm in which the organisation of politics against the Jews could once again prove an anchoring force in Europe.
Corbyn has declared: “We all have a duty to oppose any kind of racism wherever it raises its head, in whatever form it raises its head.” When he is elected Labour leader next month, Corbyn will become a pivotal figure on the international Left. He should use that office to mature his own politics and shepherd his comrades towards a civil and tolerant radicalism.
I SAW HAMAS' CRUEL AND SELFISH GAME IN GAZA
I saw Hamas' cruel and selfish game in Gaza
Polish reporter Wojciech Cegielski spent a month in Gaza during last summer's war. He has no doubt Hamas used people as human shields.
By Wojciech Cegielski
Aug. 25, 2015
I spent a month in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. It was one of the worst and deadliest months I have seen in my life. The reality there was much more complicated than was seen from a safe distance in Europe or the United States.
Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people. I do not have hard evidence, but for me, spending a month in the middle of this hell, it was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.
The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.
From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed.
When we calmed down, we started to analyze the situation. It became obvious that the man or his supervisor wanted the Israel Defense Forces to destroy civilian houses, which our tiny street was full of. Whoever it was, Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam or others, they knew that the IDF can strike back at the same place from which the rocket was fired. Fortunately for us, the rocket missed its target in Israel.
The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones.
Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”
For me, provoking is also creating living shields.
While I was interviewing people on the streets of Gaza, I couldn’t meet anyone who spoke something other than official propaganda. But some Palestinians, when they were sure my microphone was turned off, told me they have had enough but they are afraid. No one would dare to say publicly that Hamas is creating a hell inside Gaza. But they were also asking “what if not Hamas?” The Palestinian Authority government would have no authority there. So if not Hamas, they say, there could be somebody much worse. “The choice is between evil and evil plus,” one of them said.
The reality is much more complicated than can be seen from a distance.
(The writer is a foreign news correspondent for Polish Radio.)
GAZA STRIP’S MIDDLE CLASS ENJOYS SPIN CLASSES, FINE DINING, PRIVATE BEACHES
Gaza Strip’s middle class enjoys spin classes, fine dining, private beaches
By William Booth
August 24, 2015
GAZA CITY – Alongside the Hamas training camps and bombed-out neighborhoods, there is a parallel reality where the wafer-thin Palestinian middle class here is wooed by massage therapists, spin classes and private beach resorts.
Media images beamed from the Gaza Strip rightly focus on the territory’s abundant miseries. But rising from the rubble of last summer’s devastating war with Israel are a handful of new luxury-car dealerships, boutiques selling designer jeans and, coming soon to a hip downtown restaurant, “Sushi Nights.”
This is the Gaza outside the war photographer’s frame, where families of the small, tough, aspirational middle class will splurge on a $140 seaside villa with generator power to give their kids a 20-hour staycation with a swimming pool and palm trees.
This is the sliver of Gaza, a coastal enclave with the highest unemployment rate in the world, with personal trainers, medium-rare steaks, law school degrees and decent salaries.
The surviving bureaucrats, doctors, factory managers and traders in the middle class who haven’t abandoned Gaza often say they are squeezed between the Israeli blockade, with its tight restrictions on travel and trade, and the Palestinian leadership, including the Islamist movement Hamas, which has controlled the strip since 2007 and has fought three fruitless wars with Israel in six years.
“I like to get out a night or two a month. You have to, if you can afford it. You have to live life, just a little bit, even in Gaza,” said Samia Hillis, 33, a counselor whose days are spent working with children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hillis was sitting with her niece at the new open-air rooftop restaurant called Level Up in the high-rise Zafer Tower. The tables were crowded with families celebrating children’s birthday parties with balloons, beside shy young engaged couples whispering sweet nothings, and women – most in headscarves, some not – smoking flavored tobacco in water pipes.
Zafer Tower was hit by a half-dozen Israeli shells and missiles last summer. Israeli artillery took out a Hamas communications antenna on the roof. The restaurant kitchen was scorched by fire. An Israeli military spokesman told the Associated Press that the building had been a “hub of terror activity” but did not elaborate.
“I believe the people of Gaza deserve much better than they get,” said Basil Eleiwa, the restaurant’s general manager, who says he tries to keep his prices – for chicken salad sandwiches or sea bream with lemon – reasonable.
The restaurateur called the middle-class market in Gaza “limited, precious, almost endangered.” He described the Gazan economy as “driving off a cliff.” He recalled a conversation he had with a Hamas leader in 2007, after the Islamist movement took control of the coastal strip. The official wondered aloud if it would really matter if 100,000 people left?
Eleiwa pointed out that was the sum total of Gaza’s middle class.
The signs of revival, beside the ruins of war, can be jarring.
Not a single one of the 18,000 homes destroyed in last summer’s war is habitable. Reconstruction moves at a glacial pace. Black-market cement is the currency of the realm. Unemployment in Gaza, at 43 percent, is the highest in the world, according to the World Bank, which declared that “blockades, war and poor governance” put Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse. Nearly 80 percent of the strip’s 1.8 million people receive social assistance.
But the seaside corniche, restored with funds from Qatar, now boasts Grand Motors, a car dealership with a row of gleaming late-model Mercedes-Benz sedans on the lot.
“We’ve been open two months and sold two,” said Moemen Abu Ras, a partner. His family has been in the used-car parts business in Gaza for three generations. The market for luxury sedans is tiny, he said, but still, there is a niche to fill. “But slow,” he said.
There’s a black 2014 Mercedes E-class sedan with 20,000 kilometers on it for sale on the lot for $80,000, give or take. “The taxes are the killer,” said Abu Ras, who pays cash for the cars in Germany, ships them through the Israeli port of Ashdod and then pays duties and taxes to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
A mile away at the newly opened Techno Gym, Gazans pay about $100 a month for an all-inclusive membership at the air-conditioned sports club, which offers cardio workouts, hydrotherapy, spin classes, swimming lessons and high-end weight machines, which were imported from China but delayed at Israeli customs in Tel Aviv for two months because of the war.
“This isn’t a business, this is a dream,” said co-owner Ammar Abu Karsh, who taught the cardio class under a sign that read in English, “No Pain No Gain.” The club boasts more than 500 members.
“Gaza has gyms but nothing like this,” said Mohammad Migdad, a competitive body builder with biceps the size of grapefruits.
Migdad helps train newbies and fellow competitors. “We expend our energies here in sport instead of sitting around depressed or becoming extremists,” he said. He confessed that the life of a Gazan bodybuilder is hard. “You can’t travel, and no sponsorship,” Migdad said. “Also, if you want big muscles, you have to have supplements, and the price is too much.”
At the gym, a tub of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Iron Whey protein costs $130, almost triple the price in a California gym.
Gaza has had a lone five-star hotel, the Mashtal, since 2011. It was mothballed for some years but is open again. Across the street is the newest sensation, the Blue Beach Resort, which has an Olympic-size swimming pool, cabana boys and a private beach.
After an Israeli TV news station did a snarky piece on the resort – wondering aloud how tourists would arrive, if not by smuggling tunnel? – the management decided to lower its profile. An employee at the hotel said Hamas security complained that journalists were giving the world the wrong impression about Gaza.
Omar Shaban, a respected economist here, said, “Always in every society, during war, famine, whatever, you will find some risk-takers, some entrepreneurs. Here the business people are hopeless the siege will end, so they look for other opportunities. There’s no export. No garments, no flowers, no trade. So they sell something to Gaza. Some cars, restaurants, resorts.”
Shaban shrugged. “It’s not much,” he said.
But for Gazans who can afford it, a little taste of middle-class pleasure keeps them going. At a beach villa last week, the Ammar family piled out of their cars, carrying plates of hummus, spicy olives, sandwich meats, mangoes and grapes, and cranked up the music. They rented the villa for 20 hours for $140 to have a pool party.
Heba Ammar, 24, couldn’t wait. “If I could leave Gaza,” she said, “I would run!”
(Hazem Balousha and Heidi Levine contributed to this report.)
DENYING THE ISRAEL-BASHERS – KUDOS TO OPRAH AND OTHER PRINCIPLED STARS
Denying the Israel-bashers – kudos to Oprah and other principled stars
New York Post
By Post Editorial Board
August 23, 2015
For years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has worked to make Israel an international pariah. Happily, it’s started seeing some serious pushback.
In Spain, Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu did indeed perform Saturday at the Rototom Sunsplash festival. The organizers re-invited him after they’d canceled – a disinvitation pushed by the BDS crew, which had insisted he endorse Palestinian statehood.
An international uproar forced the festival’s hand – after all, organizers (and BDSers) hadn’t insisted on a litmus test for any non-Jewish performers.
No less than Oprah Winfrey stood up to the thugs, too. A BDS “delegation” showed up at her magazine’s New York offices this month, carrying a letter urging Oprah to publicly reject Israeli jeweler Lev Leviev’s products.
The star had worn Leviev diamonds on the cover of O magazine’s May issue, the 15th anniversary edition. But the BDSniks smear Leviev with charges of stealing Palestinian land and committing human-rights abuses in Angola.
Neither Oprah nor her executives would even meet with the agitators. They even refused to accept the letter.
In October, New Jersey’s second-favorite native sons, Bon Jovi, will end their current tour in Tel Aviv – rejecting BDS pressure to cancel the concerts after the dates were announced in the spring.
Support for Israel even popped up in Paris this month. Mayor Anne Hidalgo dedicated an artificial beach to Tel Aviv – despite intense opposition from the BDS movement and its sympathizers in the French media.
Across the globe, too many in media, the arts and politics are happy to go with the flow and pile on Israel. It’s refreshing to see stars – especially American ones – standing up to the bullies by taking truly principled stands.