The crisis in Gaza leaves no time to dream of grandiose solutions, such as an artificial island or desalination plants, and only immediately allowing thousands of Gazans to work in Israel can alleviate the pressure.
A Palestinian woman sits outside her house as she escapes the heat during a power cut at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Gaza, Sept. 15, 2015.
We could wake up one morning soon and be pleasantly surprised to hear that a comprehensive agreement has been reached to save the Gaza Strip. Perhaps a reconciliation will be reached between Fatah and Hamas. Maybe the various global donors will increase their contributions. Gaza’s schools may even open their doors for the coming school year and the teachers fired by UNRWA for lack of funds could return to work. Israel and Hamas could reach an understanding regarding the release of bodies of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Perchance the fires that are lit daily in the Israeli fields surrounding the Gaza Strip will stop and no more Palestinian youths will be killed on the border fence. A port could be established on an island off the Gaza coast. However, the chances that any of these changes will come to pass on their own are not high, and there is a burning need for an immediate solution that will stop the dangerous deterioration in Gaza.
The shocking descriptions of life in Gaza today have lost their impact. Everyone knows that the unemployment rate is staggering. That the only water safe to drink comes from bottles provided by vehicles that circulate daily. That there is electricity for only four hours a day, meaning that people without generators cannot preserve food, even if they have money to purchase it. That the schools are closed. Everyone says they want to help. Everyone seems to understand the danger of people having nothing more to lose.
The Israeli government understands the need for normalization, but some of the families who lost soldiers in the 2014 Gaza war insist that no steps be taken to improve the living conditions of the Strip residents. There must be no easement of the closure, they say, until Hamas returns the bodies of the Israeli soldiers it still holds. The families oppose a prisoner exchange deal and demand that the government put ever more pressure on the Strip’s residents until Hamas caves and returns the bones of their sons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts their demands.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stubbornly vetoes all ideas for improving Gaza’s infrastructure. All such programs need the authorization of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, and Abbas will not authorize such plans until he receives full control of the Strip. He is not willing to serve only as treasurer of Gaza, but wants to control Hamas’ weapons and ammunition and insists that the PA’s control must be “aboveground and below ground as well,” hinting at the tunnels constructed by Hamas.
The Egyptians, who assumed an important role in the last cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, are going out of their way to promote Palestinian reconciliation, which they believe is the key to solving the Gaza problem. They created a proposal and sent it to the two warring Palestinian sides. However, it does not demand that Hamas gives up its weapons and it does not allow the PA to collect taxes in Gaza. Therefore, the chances that Cairo will coax the two sides to bury the hatchet are very small indeed.
The United Nations’ coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, has been working overtime this summer between Cairo, Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah, offering imaginative infrastructure projects such as desalinization plants the length of the seashore. Mladenov came to an agreement with the World Bank to increase its yearly assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from $55 million to $90 million. He also developed a strong relationship with Egypt’s General Intelligence Service director, Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel, who holds the internal Palestinian reconciliation as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict portfolios.
Mladenov is one of the more optimistic players in the Gaza saga. He has especially good connections with the region’s leaders who do not talk to one another but do talk to him. However, even Mladenov has faced harsh criticism from the PA. In Abbas’ inner circle, one hears that Mladenov is prone to making promises regarding infrastructure projects without coordination with Ramallah, which will not agree to any project until it is given control over the entire Strip.
The Israeli government seems helpless. Politicians compete against one another in boastful statements regarding what will be done there should the Gaza-sponsored violence continue. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman continues to threaten Gaza, saying that should the missile sirens sound, they will be heard in Gaza as well. But after Liberman’s infamous 2016 threat to eliminate the Hamas leaders within 48 hours should they not hand over the bodies of Israel’s 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict victims, it is hard to imagine that anyone still believes his threats. Netanyahu, by contrast, clearly understands the significance of reconquering Gaza, and that’s the last thing he wants to take on in the sunset of his political career. After all, it is likely that he will be indicted soon in one or more of the affairs he’s being investigated for. Meanwhile, fires continue to scorch the Israeli side from the flaming balloons and kites launched from the Gaza side.
This week I talked to a highly placed source in the Gaza Strip. I asked him what could change things for the better, short of making peace between Fatah and Hamas and initiating a tourism project along a newly lovely Gaza shoreline.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, my source made the following statement: “There is one thing that can be done without the need for prior agreements between the sides. Your army understands the urgent need to take action, therefore it proposes to allow 5,000 men to leave the Strip every day and work in Israel. The Shin Bet opposes this because it is concerned that there will be those who will take advantage of the opportunity to carry out violence. We can’t promise 100% it won’t happen, but if nothing is done, then what will go on in Gaza is likely to be much worse. It became known that the Shin Bet prepared a list of 5,000 people that you are willing to give work permits to. Don’t wait, let them go.”
According to my source, “5,000 workers means an annual income of at least 360 million shekels [$97.5 million] a year. To this we have to add another 2 million shekels [$542,000] a day for transportation. This would be a significant boost to the Gazan economy. It’s relatively simple, and it’s important to the Israelis who need workers. Every day that passes without the go-ahead on this constitutes danger to you and to them.”
The Shin Bet list is prepared, claims an Israeli security source. The plan’s chances for alleviating pressure on Gaza are high, and Israelis in the south repeat that they need manpower, and not only in agriculture. The existing security dangers in Gaza today are greater than the dangers of bringing Gazan workers into Israel. There are tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank who already work there.
Making such decisions is what the government exists to do.
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine speak at the “Palestine Without Borders” session at the 2018 United We Dream National Congress. Photo: Youth Empowerment Alliance.
A pro-Israel group on Thursday denounced an “antisemitic” session recently hosted by an immigrant youth organization, which compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
69% of progressives are ashamed to be Americans, but 63% are proud of their political ideology instead. The majority don’t attend religious services, but 73% list politics as their preoccupation.
Numbers from one poll showed that, “religiously unaffiliated Democrats were more than twice as likely to have attended a rally within the past 12 months compared with their religious peers” and were “significantly more likely to have contacted an elected official or to have donated to a candidate or cause” or “bought or boycotted a product for political reasons or posted political opinions online”.
Campus Week: A guide for Jewish students and their elders
Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “we must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” reverts to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews.
The German Middle East expert Thomas von der Osten-Sacken wrote an article on the website of the Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch, with the headline “Speaker at indivisible demonstration calls for Israel’s destruction.” The protest was called #unteilbar (indivisible) by its organizers.
From 1998 to 2008, 5.4 million Congolese died as a result of civil war. Most of the Congolese asylum seekers in Israel came during this period.
It is now the turn of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to be deported back to their country. The Foreign Ministry has implied that the conditions that justified collective protection to Congolese asylum seekers no longer prevail and that there is nothing to prevent them from returning home safely. The Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has given them 90 days to leave the country.
With its decades-old track record of murder and mayhem, Hamas has already secured itself a place in the annals of infamy.
From bus bombings to underground terror tunnels to the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and projectiles at Israeli towns and cities, the Islamic extremist group has repeatedly found new ways to sow widespread death and destruction.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the standard of living for the Palestinian people in Gaza has steadily declined, even though Israel gifted the Palestinians with thriving agricultural lands, productive greenhouses and beautiful beachfront communities.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
“In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews,” Hatem Bazian reportedly declared, “until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”
That was in 1999.
Two years later, Bazian had co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine. Three years later, 79 members of his new SJP hate group were busted for disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state.