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Neocons Freak Out Over U.S. Boat to Gaza

Apologists for Israel’s right-wing Likud government are heaping scorn on the activists trying to highlight the illegal blockade of Gaza.

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Beyond expanding settlements on Palestinian lands and resisting serious peace talks, Netanyahu’s government has taken  to segregating not only Arabs from Jews but secular Jews from ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Plus, over the past two years, Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition has lost its co-opted ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt as well as the once-friendly Turks and bit-by-bit its legitimacy. This reality is finally sinking in. Tel Aviv, Washington and Cambridge see a significant weakening of Israel’s worldwide standing.

And, as for “delegitimizing” Israel, no one could do that job better than the Likudniks themselves – the more so, given their penchant for knee-jerk overreactions and risible rhetoric.

The likely “legitimization” of a Palestinian state by the U.N. in September is being seen in some Israeli right-wing quarters as the last straw.

But Netanyahu’s thuggish regime still can count on influential apologists like Dershowitz to excuse whatever it does. Dershowitz and other neocon voices pipe up whenever Israel’s drift toward an unconscionable apartheid system is noted.

As part of that propaganda, we are now hearing, again and again, bizarre accounts about how wonderful life is for the Gazans. In his pro-blockade diatribe, Dershowitz depicted a fun-and-sun existence for these Palestinians, who are, in reality, trapped in what amounts to a squalid open-air prison.

Besides cutting the Gazans off from the world, Israel has strangled their economy by tightly restricting construction material needed to rebuild homes, businesses and schools damaged in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion, which killed an estimated 1,400 Palestinians, compared to 13 Israeli deaths.

However, to gloss over the ugly reality, Dershowitz selectively cites a recent New York Times article, which noted that construction material smuggled in from Egypt in the aftermath of Mubarak’s ouster is fueling a mini-boom in construction in Hamas-ruled Gaza and slightly lessening the jobless crisis.

Here’s Dershowitz’s slanted version: “According to reporting by The New York Times, Gaza has been thriving recently. Luxury hotels are being built; stores are stocked with food; beaches are filled with children; and life is far better than in neighboring Al Arish, which is across the border in Egypt.”

Yet, the few positives were only part of what the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner reported. In  the same article, he wrote, “So is that the news from Gaza in mid-2011? Yes, but so is this: Thousands of homes that were destroyed in the Israeli antirocket invasion two and a half years ago have not been rebuilt.

“Hospitals have canceled elective surgery for lack of supplies. Electricity remains maddeningly irregular.  The much-publicized opening of the Egyptian border has fizzled, so people remain trapped here. The number of residents living on less than $1.60 a day has tripled in four years.  Three-quarters of the population rely on food aid.”

Strangled Economy

The Israeli human rights group Gisha, which has campaigned against the closure of Gaza, notes that while Gaza now has adequate food supplies, “economic recovery is blocked by sweeping restrictions.”

Gisha noted that “The continued ban on export, construction materials, and travel between Gaza and the West Bank contradicts the 2010 Israeli government decision to facilitate economic recovery in Gaza.

“At least 83% of Gaza’s factories are either closed or working at a capacity of 50% or less, according to the Palestinian Federation of Industries. The manufacturing sector cannot recover under the present Israeli ban on export. …

“Even during the winter agricultural season, when Israel allowed the export of agricultural produce, the quantities were economically negligible: an average of two trucks per day, compared to the 400 trucks a day agreed upon in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

 
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