Thursday, June 17, 2010

Questions and appeals to pity

With assistance from Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton presents a "Q&A" on the Gaza blockade.  Hamilton, who has previously demonstrated that he cares not a jot for the well-being of the Palestinian Arabs except when he can exploit them as a weapon of propaganda against Israel, employs the Question and Appeal to Pity Answer format to demonize Israel and sanitize Hamas:
Because it is under the control of the militant Islamist movement Hamas, which does not accept Israel's right to exist and remains committed to armed resistance. The blockade was conceived three years ago as a way of suffocating popular support for Hamas, but the strategy has not worked. Hamas remains firmly in power and the blockade is denounced by critics as a form of collective punishment.  [emphasis ours]
Hamilton and al-Mughrabi are violating the Reuters code of ethics here by attempting to cloak in the euphemism "armed resistance", Hamas' proclaimed mission to eradicate Israel and exterminate the Jews.  And the Reuters pair conveniently ignore the 8,000 rockets and mortars launched in support of that mission by Hamas which precipitated and necessitated the Israeli blockade.

Let's not forget too, that Hamas received their mandate to rule Gaza from the Palestinian people in elections, so the charge by anonymous "critics" of "collective punishment" is indistinguishable from a claim for example, that NATOs bombing of Serbia to halt the ethnic cleansing of Muslims by Slobodan Milošević represented "collective punishment".  In both cases, non-combatants suffered for their elected leaders' militancy and gross violations of international and humanitarian law.  Indeed, Israel's embargo has been far more humane.

Reuters again:
Israel alone decides on what is openly allowed to cross the closed borders of the Gaza Strip. Most commercial goods are banned. Humanitarian aid is allowed in. Gaza smugglers have dug hundreds of underground tunnels to Egypt on the southern border where contraband of all sorts, including weapons, is smuggled in. Gaza residents say they particularly miss ice cream, Coca-Cola and instant coffee that used to be brought in from Israel.  [emphasis ours]
This is false.  Egypt also maintains a blockade on Gaza and decides what is allowed to go in and out -- which explains the smuggling tunnels on the Egyptian side of the border.  We do however, appreciate the previous reference to "collective punishment" when it comes to the Palestinians missing out on Israeli ice cream.

Hamilton and al-Mughrabi continue:
The United Nations aid agency charged with supporting Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) says people with power and money in Gaza can obtain "anything they want" via the tunnels. "There are lots of things to buy. But this stuff is out of reach of the abject poor," said spokesman Chris Gunness. The number of Gazans unable to afford sufficient food has risen threefold in the past year to 300,000.  [emphasis ours]
This is a very interesting figure.  300,000 Gazans represents about 20 percent of the total population.  With all attention focused by Reuters on Palestinian hardship, we never see reported, within the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the fact that 25 percent of the Israeli population lives in poverty with one in three children going to bed hungry.  Although the causes of poverty are numerous and complex, the fact that Israel has had to allocate immense national resources to defend against unremitting Arab military threats and terrorism over the last 62 years clearly plays a significant and adverse role in the nation's ability to feed its poor.  Absent the perennial presence of United Nations aid agencies and a sympathetic world media enjoyed by the Palestinians, Israel makes due without promoting its hardships.

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