Abdallah Al Salmi’s “Unoccupied; No Israelis in Gaza. No Jobs, Either,” featured in the Washington Post‘s October 2, 2005 “Outlook” section is a magazine-length gripe filled with factual distortions. And since it also includes, in apparent obliviousness, information contradicting major points, it comes across as illogical and unintelligent. This raises a question: why did Post editors grant Al Salmi a magazine-length 1,717 words for “Unoccupied: No Israelis in Gaza. No Jobs, Either”?
Al Salmi laments, among other things:
No, the majority of Gaza’s 1.3 million Arabs do not live in camps. They are either residents of the Strip from before the Arabs’ unsuccessful1948 war against Israel or their descendants. The minority in the U.N.-maintained “camps” (long-established if not usually prosperous neighborhoods) are those who fled the fighting and their descendants.
No, all Israeli civilians and military personnel have left the Gaza Strip, after a 38-year presence, as a result of “disengagement”. Al Salmi refers elsewhere in his article to the fact that Israel recently counter-attacked in Gaza after Hamas rockets exploded at a post-disengagement rally, killing 16 Arabs, after Hamas and other terrorist groups falsely blamed Israel, and after they “retaliated” by firing rockets into Israel. So responsibility for Israelis “doing it from the outside” rests on Palestinian Arabs inside, but Al Salmi complains nevertheless.
Wrong again. A successful economy, drawing foreign investment, was beginning to develop in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after the Palestinian leadership signed the Oslo accords in 1993, promising peaceful coexistence with Israel. The Palestinians aborted this themselves with their “al-Aqsa intifada,” which has resulted in nearly 1,100 Israelis murdered and 6,000 wounded since 2000. If, as Al-Salmi writes, hundreds of thousands of Gazans have lost jobs in Israel as a result, it’s not because of a “five-year cycle of violence” but because of Palestinian terrorism which is widely supported and celebrated in the Strip. Monaco, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore and other cramped places feature “stable and prosperous life.” Unlike Gaza, they have leaders and populations committed to stability, prosperity, and peace with their neighbors.
Moreover, international donors have already tried to help build the Palestinian economy. Kim Howell, the United Kingdom’s minister of state for Middle Eastern Affairs, said last week that Palestinian Arabs have received more aid per capita than any other group on earth (an estimated $7 billion for less than 4 million people since Oslo, with several billions more promised). Howell also said that the PA has enough security personnel and weapons to impose law and order.
The Gaza Strip’s international airport opened during the Oslo years with Israel’s help. If not for the “al-Aqsa intifada” it would be operating today and the planned seaport would probably be in business as well. The Palestinian leadership faces “hassles” in reaching agreements with Israel because Palestinian terrorist groups still “hassle” Israel, the PA refuses to disarm and dismantle them as it has agreed to, and the Palestinian public doesn’t rise against both terrorists and the incompetent PA in a pro-democracy movement like those seen in the Ukraine, Lebanon, and elsewhere.