The Region: The Middle East fantasy world

Spinning the Palestinian economy to claim the opposite of reality is one example of the West’s biggest problem.

Ashton Abbas (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ashton Abbas
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Here’s the West’s biggest problem at this moment in the region (there will be bigger ones soon): The creation of a fantasy world in place of the real Middle East.
Consider an article in The Financial Times.
The lead: “Palestinian workers in the West Bank have so far failed to benefit from the recent surge in economic growth, with new research showing that unemployment is high and rising while wages continue to fall.”
Their interpretation: The survey offers a sobering counterpoint to recent statements by Israeli and international leaders hailing annual growth rates of more than nine percent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At the same time, it appears to confirm the concerns expressed by international economists and by Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, who warned repeatedly that the revival of the Palestinian economy was “unsustainable” without further political progress.
My interpretation of their interpretation: Ah, so if the Palestinian Authority lies about its economic situation, it really shows that Israel is wrong. Ha, ha. Good one. And if the economy isn’t doing well, it shows that Israel must make more concessions and the Palestinians must be given more! Another good one.
My interpretation: The Palestinian economy is a mirage floating on a sea of massive foreign donations.
It is still riddled by incompetence, inefficiency and corruption. If everything is so fragile and you turn it into a state, that doesn’t miraculously solve economic problems.
It just creates a fragile state that will depend on anti-Israel demagoguery, tolerate cross-border raids into Israel, rely on infusions of pro-Islamist money (from Iran, Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood), and possibly welcome a takeover by Hamas.
We are being told that Hamas is not to be feared because the West Bank economy is doing so well; if elections are held, the Fatah rulers of the PA will win. Similar confidence made fools of them in 2006, when Hamas won the election although the US State Department depended on false polls done by Fatah flunkies to predict the opposite.
So when a respected journal like The Financial Times tells you that 25% unemployment proves that we must rush into a deal, one might ask what planet it is living on.
Euphemism: “[Israel and the Palestinians] have also clashed over a recent deal to restore unity between rival Palestinian factions, an agreement which Israel rejects.”
Might one of those factions be a genocidal, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamist terrorist client of Iran and Syria, intent-on-war group known as Hamas? Otherwise, why should Israel possibly reject “unity between rival Palestinian factions”?
There's no discussion of what the PA might be doing wrong. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, continually bragging about his accomplishments regarding the economy, is portrayed as the chief person warning about the problems. And Israel is at fault, if only for trying desperately to find something nice to say about the PA.
“The downbeat economic news offered a striking contrast to the apparent surge in political optimism among Palestinians.
According to a new opinion poll... more than 83% of Palestinians say they feel ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ about the future – an increase of more than 15% compared to September last year,” said the FT report.
Why optimistic? Because they are hoping to avoid a deal with Israel, falsely believing (and encouraged to do so by their leaders) that the UN will hand them everything they want, and that Fatah-Hamas unity will make it possible to defeat and destroy Israel.
But we know these “hopes” will be dashed.
So what then? A return to violence? That won’t help the economy. The election of a Hamas government, since now we are being told that the PA’s only electoral asset – its economic success – doesn’t exist? In other words, while this article contains very useful information, the interpretation of it makes the overall effect of this piece another “counter-informational” exercise.
So the only thing left for me to say is this: Readers of the world, unite! Realize that the mass media is largely inculcating a false consciousness on the toiling, newspaper-buying masses. If you believe this stuff, well, then, you have nothing to lose but your brains.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center ( at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal and Turkish Studies. He blogs at