My Word: Pooling resources and last resorts

By
August 18, 2016 21:40

I don’t begrudge Gazan luxury hotels or the shopping malls that have opened in recent years; It should be a sign of progress, but not in an economy rife with corruption and based on terrorism.




Gaza resort

Palestinians are seen at the Blue Beach Resort in Gaza shortly after it opened in July 2015. (photo credit:MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

I blame the cookie monster. Google’s algorithms have jumped to the wrong conclusions.

TripAdvisor last week asked if I’m ready to book my reservation at Gaza’s Blue Beach Resort.

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The photos look lovely, but not to die for.

There are already three Israeli citizens being held by Hamas in Gaza – two Beduin and a Jew from an Ethiopian immigrant family (not that I’ve heard Black Lives Matter adopt the cause of either the missing Muslims or the black Jew). The terrorist organization is also holding the bodies of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, and as I have noted before, that is the full extent of the Israeli “occupying forces” there.

I wasn’t planning a trip to Gaza. I was checking out the hotel a year after it opened and, like a number of my colleagues, looking at the situation of swimming pools in the Palestinian areas following the sob stories that Olympic competitor Mary al-Atrash had nowhere to train properly.

Quick update: There are several pools in the West Bank as The Jerusalem Post Editor-in- Chief Yaakov Katz noted last week; and last month, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories issued a statement on its Facebook page saying that Atrash had not been denied a permit to train in Jerusalem, as she claimed; she hadn’t applied for one (but they wished her the best of luck anyway “and hope she will come train in Jerusalem upon her return”). She won’t be spoiled for choice in the Israeli capital either: The one Olympic- size pool that I know of is under threat from property sharks and all the pools are ridiculously expensive.

Hamas in Gaza has recently been caught in a peculiar Internet web of lies: On the one hand, it milks its “poor Palestinian” image (and international donors) for all it’s worth – presenting a picture of conditions of abject poverty and destruction; on the other, ahead of the Palestinian local elections, it released a slick video showcasing its achievements in creating a clean and pleasant place to live (albeit scattered with tributes to war and martyrs).

And in case you’re wondering, the Blue Beach resort enjoys a good location but has a way to go on the service, according to the TripAdvisor reviews.

I don’t begrudge Gazan luxury hotels or the shopping malls that have opened in recent years. It should be a sign of progress, but not in an economy rife with corruption and based on terrorism.

In a story largely overlooked, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted in April that Palestinian Christians were bitter about the destruction of the ruins of a 1,800-year-old Byzantine church that was discovered in Gaza City, on a site where Hamas is planning to build another shopping mall.

“For Palestinian Christians, the destruction of the church ruins is yet a further attempt by Palestinian Muslim leaders to efface both Christian history and signs of any Christian presence in the Palestinian territories,” Abu Toameh wrote in an article for the Gatestone Institute.

Given Mahmoud Abbas’s electioneering boast that his Fatah organization has “killed 11,000 Israelis” and Hamas’s pride in its rockets and terror tunnels (built with funds it diverted from real humanitarian needs), neither organization offers any hope of peace and allowing the Palestinians to truly develop.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, a new mall for Jews, Palestinians and anyone else who wants to go there was dedicated at the Gush Etzion junction, which has been badly hit by terrorism in the last couple of years.

BETWEEN MY professional interests and my son’s equal passion for current affairs, anyone superficially studying where we’ve been in the virtual sense on our home computer might suspect that we’re about to join ISIS or some other terrorist organization.

Just this week, it was announced that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had uncovered terrorist cells among Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians recruited by Hezbollah via Facebook to carry out attacks in Israel.

It is no secret that in the wake of the recent attacks in Europe, more countries are studying Israeli-developed technology and techniques to deal with the difficult task of trying to identify potential “lonewolf” terrorists based on their social media and online activity in a sort of electronic profiling system that’s not politically correct but is more effective than wallowing in the endless data produced by normative people who use Facebook to share trite philosophy and pictures of cats. (I’m guilty of that, too.) My favorite Facebook-related ISIS story concerns the three Chechen women who last year told the group they wanted to become “jihadi brides” but couldn’t afford to buy tickets to Syria. They persuaded ISIS fighters to send them money and then quickly closed their accounts. They were later caught by Chechen police – possibly the only time the general public sympathized with the perpetrators of an online fraud rather than the “victims.”

But jihadi brides be warned: Everything you need to know can be found in ISIS’s online English-language magazine, Dabiq.

Following the “Know your enemy” principle, I took a look at the latest issue, its 15th, available via the Clarion Project and directly. A professionally produced publication unsubtly titled “Break the Cross,” it carries several mentions of the necessity of wives to be both modest and obedient.

Its photographs include cute kids and an ISIS fighter tenderly tickling a kitten.

But the foreword states: “Between the release of this issue of Dabiq and the next slaughter to be executed against them by the hidden soldiers of the Caliphate – who are ordered to attack without delay – the Crusaders can read into why Muslims hate and fight them, why pagan Christians should break their crosses, why liberal secularists should return to the fitrah (natural human disposition), and why skeptical atheists should recognize their Creator and submit to Him.”

Something for everyone, then, although not exactly poolside reading.

I found it less enticing than the prospect of an alcohol-free, burkini-covered vacation.

Following the story that several French coastal cities are banning the burkini – the modest swimsuit favored by devout Muslim women – I agree with the friend who noted that in the past women were told to cover up and are now being told they can’t cover up: The only constant thing is that it is the men who are deciding what women should wear and how.

Personally, I don’t favor the French ban on either burkinis or the burka, just as I would object to suggestions that Jewish men and married women not be allowed to wear kippot and head-coverings in public.

There are more intelligent ways to pool ideas and resources to fight terrorism and help the Mediterranean keep its reputation as a hot spot for tourists, not terrorists.

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