Eyes wide open in Gaza

If common sense defeats mad hatred, the Strip could open new horizons.

By AMNON RUBINSTEIN
October 26, 2005 01:07
funeral hamas gaza

funeral hamas gaza 88. (photo credit: )

 
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It is too early to tell whether the Gaza Strip will fall prey to jihadist-Hamas rule, becoming an Iranian-like offshoot near the heart of Israel, a den of violence and terror - or, hopefully, will be run by the Palestinian Authority with some sense of responsibility for the long-suffering people of this overpopulated piece of land. Indeed, any observer will conclude that Gaza's future will determine, to a large extent, the future of the whole Middle East. A peaceful Gaza will be conducive to more Israeli withdrawals; a jihadist Gaza will ensure that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will be the last one. Indeed, if Gaza becomes a lawless mirror of Hizbullah-controlled south Lebanon, not only Israelis and the people of Gaza will suffer from the ensuing violence; Egypt as well will be harmed in its struggle against fundamentalists and Europe will be exposed to a new flood of Palestinian refugees fleeing from hell to the European paradise. But even if the Palestinian Authority succeeds in governing the Strip, and even if the will to coexist with Israel replaces suicidal fanaticism, the economic problems of Gaza seem to be insurmountable. The Palestinians - and Israelis - will face three possible solutions to these problems. THE FIRST solution is to turn Gaza into a social case, ever dependent on the kindness of strangers - i.e. the charity and aid of the world community. This is a totally unrealistic way out. True, an international effort must be made to rehabilitate the ruined infrastructure and provide basic vital services to over a million Palestinians crowding the Strip. But not only is life on charity demeaning, there is no chance that such assistance will be forthcoming on a steady basis. There is no precedent for such charity. Even in hunger-stricken sub-Saharan Africa we see signs of aid-fatigue. The second solution is to find work in Israel for multitudes of unemployed Gazans. This is an accessible and easy fix, in spite of the fact that Israel too suffers from a high rate of unemployment (and yet hungers for manpower in construction and agriculture). Indeed, in the short run such employment will provide immediate relief from dire poverty, but nevertheless it is a bad solution: Palestinians will meet Israelis in circumstances of extreme inequality - Israelis being the bosses, Gazans being the low-paid manual workers. In a recent BBC broadcast from Gaza, one of their reporters seemed astounded by the hateful incitement against Israel after its withdrawal and told of a Palestinian who had worked in Israel for 20 years and who described the Israelis as subhumans. Manual work in Israel is a sure way to deepen this hatred. WHAT REMAINS is a third option - that peaceful Gaza will become a supplementary economy to both Israel and Egypt. As regards Israel, the advantages are clear: Because of the tremendous wage differential between Israel and Gaza, Gaza can easily become the subcontractor of Israeli industry which, nowadays, looks for subcontracting and outsourcing - in Jordan, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. A non-violent Gaza and a new attitude toward Israel and Israelis can offer many services to Israelis: tourism along its splendid beaches, an international airport which would rid Israelis of the tortuous Terminal 3, garages and mechanical services and even, in the future, civil marriage services which would replace expensive Cyprus. With regard to Egypt, the talented people of Gaza could, with the help of desalinated water, help Egypt develop the now barren north Sinai, assuming of course, that Egypt will understand the need to alleviate, for its own sake, the hardship which is Gaza. Indeed, this solution emulates the very process which enriched the less developed countries in the EU: not through charity, but by economically supplementing the rich part of Europe. In this way, Ireland, Portugal and Spain started their route to prosperity and equality. This solution needs no international aid and will take place of its own accord if common sense defeats the mad hatred of Israel and this, of course, is a very big if. The writer, founder of the Shinui movement and a former education minister, is dean of the Radzyner School of Law at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.


Send us your comments >> Walid Awad, East Jerusalem: What is being said here is fine. Gaza can and should prosper. But how can this be done while the siege is imposed and the freedom of the people's movements is curtailed. Changing the situation in Gaza and the West Bank is in the hands of Israel. Israel must come to the conclusion that killing people and deprivation is not the solution. Withdrawal, freedom for prisoners, and less use of primitive means - such as the use of brutal force - to solve a conflict such as ours is the key. Unfortunately, while people like Sharon and Mofaz are in power, it is unlikely that something substantive such as achieving peace is possible. Kenneth S. Besig, Kiryat Arba, Israel: Amnon Rubenstein has been excusing Palestinian hatred of Israel and Palestinian anti-Israel bigotry for so long that it now seems he is unable to fathom what he and his post-Zionist political supporters have accomplished. He, along with other radical Left-wing Israelis, and the various Palestinian terrorist groups, have created a Palestinian consciousness of self pity, victim-hood, and entitlement which defines the existence of Israel the root of all their problems, and the destruction of our Jewish State their ultimate, and yes, even their Final Solution. Now, after literally decades of Mr. Rubenstein and his political and cultural followers using the Israeli media, courts, and educational institutions to systematically delegitmize and demonize the Israeli State vis a vis the Palestinians, and promote the false Palestinian narrative, Mr. Rubenstein demands that the Palestinians behave responsibly and be held accountable for their accomplishments and mistakes. He now, quite unrealistically I must add, demands that the Palestinians see themselves as in charge of their own destiny, that they see themselves as actively working to advance their own interests and not simply reacting to Israeli measures, and that they define themselves according to their own needs. Well, Mr. Rubenstein and his party Shinui, along with his comrades in the Meretz bloc have made, and continue to make, that Palestinian undertaking just this side of impossible. After all, with the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern Shomron, the Palestinians now realize that their phony and unrealistic narrative of self pity, victim-hood, and entitlement actually works, and after twenty years of pounding by the likes of Amnon Rubenstein, it even works with the Israeli nationalists.

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