The humanitarian show

Maybe Turkey, Lebanon and Iran need their own flotillas.

By BEN-DROR YEMINI
July 11, 2010 23:54
One of the flotilla boats docks at the Ashdod port

greek ship flotilla ashdod 311. (photo credit: Ron Friedman)

 
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Additional humanitarian aid flotillas from Lebanon, Iran, Libya and the West may be en route to the Gaza Strip as we speak. But it seem that the plight of the Turks, Iranians and the Palestinians in Lebanon is far worse. Here are the facts.

Turkey was the most prominent country in the recent Gaza-bound flotilla. The Mavi Marmara with members of the IHH, an organization affiliated with global jihad, sailed from that country. Lebanon is dispatching a ship that is due to arrive perhaps in the coming days. Even Iran, that bastion of humanitarian justice, is joining the party. Thus, it is worth checking what is happening in these compassionate countries, which are showing such noteworthy generosity in dispatching humanitarian aid to an “oppressed” population.

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Infant mortality is one of the most important indicators in gauging a humanitarian situation. And according to the data, Turkey is in worse shape than Gaza.

Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.71 per thousand; in Turkey it is 24.84. The Gaza Strip is in a much better situation than the global average, which is 44 infants per 1,000 births. It is also better than most of the Arab countries and several South American countries, and is certainly better than Africa.

Life expectancy is another important indicator. And here, life expectancy in Turkey is 72.23, whereas in the Gaza Strip it is 73.68, much higher than the global average of 66.12. In comparison, life expectancy is 63.36 in Yemen, 52.52 in Sudan and 50 in Somalia. These countries are crying out for international attention, for aid, for any rescue ship. But none come.

Regarding population growth, the Gaza Strip is ranked sixth, with a growth rate of 3.29 percent per annum. This may not be an indicator for quality of life, but it seems that the high rate of growth, along with the high life expectancy and the low infant mortality rate, attests to one thing: There is no hunger, no humanitarian crisis and tales of 1,001 nights from 1,001 human rights organizations.

Even by other indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, the situation in the Gaza Strip is much better than that of most of the world. To complete the picture, it should be noted that two years ago, a British politician claimed that life expectancy in Glasgow East was much lower than that in the Gaza Strip.



The claim caused an uproar. Britain’s Channel 4 carried out a scrupulous check and issued its “verdict”: Indeed, life expectancy in Glasgow is lower than that in the Gaza Strip.

Thus, it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is much worse. It could be that there is a need for additional ships. But the direction should be reversed. It is Turkey that needs the help.

The Gaza Strip which should join the aid delegation for the benefit of the poor Turks.

ONE OF the bans imposed by Israel is on building materials.

Experience has shown that materials that reach the Gaza Strip do not serve the residents but Hamas’s military goals. Thus, no sane country, and let us hope that Israel is one of them, would supply an enemy organization with materials from which the bunkers for the struggle against it would be built.

Here as well, a reminder is needed. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live in neighboring Lebanon.

They live in refugee camps, under various restrictions that could fill a chapter on Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. One of the most severe restrictions is a ban on construction. This ban is enforced even in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, bombed by the Lebanese army in 2007. The extensive damage caused 27,000 of the camp’s 30,000 inhabitants to become refugees again.

They paid a heavy price for the fact that a mere 450 men were members of the rebel group Fatah al-Islam.

The struggle against radical Islam, which tried to establish itself in the camp, was used as a pretext for the vast devastation that was inflicted. It is interesting to note how the world encouraged Lebanon’s heavy-handed in this situations, while Israel is always asked to knuckle under. There are donations for reconstruction and there is also agreement for reconstruction projects but the Lebanese government is making things difficult.

LET US not forget Iran. According to every possible indicator, the situation there is worse. Infant mortality, for example, is 34.66 per 1,000 births. Life expectancy is 71.43 – less than the Gaza Strip and Turkey. With the imposition of Shari’a law in the Hamas Strip, as in Iran, and when stoning women becomes the norm, one may assume that the residents of the Strip will deteriorate to Iranian levels. It was only last week that news came from Iran of a 43-year-old woman, Sakineh Mohammadi e Ashtiani, in danger of being put to death by stoning, following a sham trial for adultery. But in the meantime, it is preferable for aid to go from Gaza to Iran. Let us hope that Egypt will allow passage through the Suez Canal.

MOST INHABITANTS on this planet are worse off than the residents of the Gaza Strip. American aid per capita to the Gaza Strip is 7.5 times higher than aid per capita to Haiti. By any possible indicator, economic or medical, the residents of the Gaza Strip are incomparably better off those of Haiti. Gazans are also better off, by every possible indicator, than the Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps. But we have not seen demonstrations in solidarity with those suffering in Lebanon; and no aid flotillas either.

What is true is that it is thanks to Israel that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are better off than most of their brethren in the neighboring countries. Because of the “brutal” occupation, life expectancy in the Gaza Strip rose from 48 in 1967 to 66 in 1993 and, as we have shown, life expectancy continues to rise.

But please, let us not confuse a “human rights activist” on the aid flotilla with the facts. They do not send aid flotillas to Iran, Lebanon or Turkey, and certainly not to Darfur in the Sudan. The humanitarian distress does not interest them. It is the anti-Israel obsession that interests them. This is not to say that they cannot be presented with the facts. They want to embarrass Israel. But the basic facts are likely to embarrass them.

Nons of the above aims to make the case that there is no true distress in Gaza. There certainly is, even if according to objective data, it is worse in Turkey, Iran and Lebanon. Israel has an interest in bettering the situation in Gaza. Israel disengaged in 2005 so that Gazans might develop an independent life.

But the Hamas takeover has led to a situation in which instead of developing and producing, the only development is on the Kassam rocket front. The blockade was imposed because the Hamas regime refuses to acknowledge previous agreements, recognize Israel or enter into the path of peace and reconciliation. The regime in Gaza has instead chosen Iran and global jihad. And despite this, everything could change in a day – if Hamas would only decide to accept the Quartet’s conditions. The keys are in its hands.

The writer is a columnist at Maariv, where a longer version of this article first appeared.

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