Israelis are multitaskers when it comes to news: Not for us one story that lasts a week, or possibly stretches out to a month in the heat of the summer. There’s a reason Israel Radio has hourly news round-ups and half-hourly bulletins.
This week, for example, the story of the High Court decision that illegal migrants can be held at the Holot detention facility in the Negev but only for up to one year rivaled the coverage of the new alternative, more embracing conversion system for immigrants and their offspring; the question of how to tackle Jewish terrorism competed with the moral dilemmas of whether or not a hunger- striking Palestinian security prisoner should be force fed; there were ongoing incidents of low-tech terrorism; and news that we all dreaded: Hamas, one year after Operation Protective Edge, has not given up on digging its terror tunnels to attack Israel at a future date. On the positive side, Israeli technological advances are constantly coming up with ways of addressing the problems of rockets, tunnels and missiles.
And at least this year we’re not at war – unless you count the verbal attacks by the US president and secretary of state on the prime minister over the Iran issue. The situation is getting so absurd it would be funny if it weren’t so serious. That Secretary of State John Kerry should praise the trip by Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to Lebanon and Syria as a sign of positive Iranian involvement in the Middle East says it all. That there should be a move (however marginal) to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrested for war crimes when he visits Britain next month is the other half of the story.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been killed by other Muslims in the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East and Africa (not to mention the Christian and other minority communities that have been destroyed), but it is Israel’s war of self-defense as thousands of rockets were launched from Gaza that makes it the global Bad Guy.
Whenever I lifted my eyes from our own big news my impression was reconfirmed that the world as a whole is not in great shape as the so-called Arab Spring turns into yet another Arab Revolution-influenced summer.
There are several stories that have either been missing or been underreported. The Jerusalem Post
’s Khaled Abu Toameh noted that Palestinians this week stepped up protests against UNRWA’s threats to halt its services, particularly the start of the academic year, due to a severe budget deficit.
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Some Palestinians, Abu Toameh noted, are convinced that the UNRWA financial crisis is “part of a conspiracy to eliminate the refugee problem.”
And here’s the strange thing, after more than 67 years as “refugees” – a status the Palestinians uniquely are able to pass down from one generation to the next, no matter where they live – gradually and carefully disbanding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and using the funding to help the newly displaced people fleeing current wars and strife could be part of the answer, granting the Palestinians a greater measure of independence and giving help where it is most needed.
I have always thought that a flourishing economy could help reduce terrorism. But only when that economy is not based on corruption.
In any case, I bet many readers missed the story about Gaza’s Blue Beach Resort. According to a Reuters report from July 31: “A luxurious new tourist resort has opened in the Gaza Strip, its manicured lawns, sparkling pool and private beach in stark contrast to the impoverished territory still struggling to recover from last year’s war.”
I don’t begrudge the Gazans a luxury hotel.
It should be a sign of hope and progress. But I remember how five years, two wars, many UN debates and European Union statements on the “humanitarian crisis,” and thousands of rockets ago, I was encouraged by news that a shopping mall had opened in Gaza.
The mall opened a couple of weeks after Israel announced it was easing the blockade in the wake of the Mavi Marmara flotilla affair.
I wrote at the time, “it seems huge quantities of cement and metal must have entered the Strip after all. It makes you wonder about the amount of arms that got through.” I also noted that “it seems strange that Gazans can build a shopping mall for those who can afford to shop (or afford to dream) before rebuilding the homes of those who lost them in the mini-war.”
Sadly, we now know that the funds that were intended to rebuild Gaza, and prevent the next war, were spent on the conspicuous consumption of the Hamas leadership and the construction of terror tunnels, as well as the stockpiling of rockets (some of them in those same UNRWA schools. How educational is that?).
Foreign activists – some well-meaning, others not – continue to spout the Palestinian line in which all the evils of the world can be blamed on the Jewish state and if only Israel were to disappear (with a little help from its enemies) all would magically be fine.
Something that barely caught the attention of Israelis let alone the outside world: A Jewish couple was attacked as they went for a morning jog this week. The wife didn’t feel well so they took a short cut that passed close to a Palestinian village. Among those who threw rocks and stones at them, they later told reporters, were foreign activists. The foreigners probably consider themselves “propeace.”
In this strange world, attacking Israel is the way to prove pro-peace credentials.
In other news that not enough people consider peculiar, China this week won its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. This follows its successful hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Like the European enthusiasm for renewed trade with Tehran (regardless of its support of international terrorism) it’s proof that market forces are stronger than moral considerations.
Countries from across the globe are happy to compete in a country whose record on human rights, environmental rights and animal welfare is among the worst in the world. China is seen fit to host the Olympics while occupying Tibet and threatening Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Israeli athletes are under threat from pro-Palestinian activists wherever they go. And even Israeli cultural events and entertainment are constantly threatened by boycotts and disruption.
In a new level of absurdity mixed with hypocrisy, a Norwegian film festival refused to screen a prize-winning Israeli documentary about disabled children. According to a Yediot Aharonot
report, Roy Zafrani’s The Other Dreamers was rejected because the festival organizers didn’t want to show an Israeli movie that didn’t deal with ‘the occupation,” “the blockade of Gaza,” or “the discrimination against Palestinians.”
The Wall is the major theme of anti-Israel rhetoric – the security barrier that Israel constructed to keep out suicide bombers in the second intifada.
Of course other countries are allowed to build walls. The UK just paid for a fence to be put up around the migrant camp in Calais on the French coast in an attempt to stop the people there from infiltrating through the Channel Tunnel and into Britain.
When Netanyahu gets to London, he could compare notes with his British counterpart, David Cameron, on the response to their similar astonishing lack of sensitivity. Netanyahu’s Election Day comment that “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” continues to haunt him, and Cameron won’t be allowed to quickly forget his description of “a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life....”
Many of the refugees and migrants have heartbreaking stories. And the tragedy is that there is no happy ending in sight. Certainly an emboldened Iran, armed with huge financial benefits for ostensibly postponing its nuclear military program, is not going to help the refugee problem. The Shi’ite Islamic Republic is not the answer to the Sunni Islamic State. Both support terrorism worldwide.
Meanwhile, Israel’s “occupying force” in Gaza could do with some help. Currently it comprises two soldiers – both dead. Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin were killed in last summer’s war and their remains were abducted by Hamas via the terror tunnels. There are also two civilians – one Beduin, one Jewish – whose fate is unknown. That is: The Hamas leadership probably knows where they are but is unwilling to divulge even whether they are still alive. This week Hamas continued its psychological warfare by announcing it also held body parts of unidentified Israeli soldiers. The goals of the ghouls seem to be balancing planning the next kidnapping and the next war, with pleas of poverty and the refugee crisis. No wonder they need to dip in the luxury hotel pool to cool off.
It’s too bad that the initiative to recreate a Tel Aviv beach on the banks of the River Seine in Paris this week should come under attack instead of being some summer fun that can bring people together. We could all do with some good news and a place to chill firstname.lastname@example.org
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