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The Distorted Gaza Debate: It’s About Hamas, Stupid

The bottom line must be whether or not the world wants to see another Islamist, genocidal state take hold. Let's discuss that, not overblown humanitarian concerns.

by
Barry Rubin

Bio

June 18, 2010 - 12:00 am
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The biggest problem with the way the Gaza Strip and flotilla issues are being presented? This is an issue about Hamas, not an issue about Israel.

The bottom line is whether the West and the world wants to see, on the coast of the Mediterranean: a revolutionary Islamist state openly seeking to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews; a client of Iran; and a dictatorial government determined to spread Islamist revolution, treat women as the Afghan Taliban did, and educate a generation of Gazans into becoming terrorists.

Only if this factor is comprehended can the humanitarian issue be put into perspective. To make the determining factor the raising of Gazan living standards is to ignore the strategic issues involved. And the great irony here is that ultimately an acceptance of the Hamas regime will doom Gazans to far more suffering — not to mention death — than the embargo could ever cause.

Yet even if one takes the humanitarian issue in isolation from the strategic questions, on its own merits, it is a largely phony question. It is being promoted mainly by Hamas and its supporters not to help people in Gaza but to break the embargo, stabilize the regime, and ensure its support base. Of course, this would only continue until Hamas launched the next war, or massive terrorist and rocket-firing campaign, against Israel.

In this regard, the most fundamental points are being distorted. The Gaza Strip is an agricultural area, and there has never been any hunger there. Many photos have been published showing that the shops are full of basic commodities. True, this is being supplemented by smuggling across the border with Egypt, but the outcome is the same.

Additionally, the Gaza Strip has always been a poor area, even in comparison to the West Bank. Statistics are being distorted to act as if the relatively lower living standards in the Gaza Strip are being caused by the sanctions, rather than largely being a continuation of history. Naturally, with a Hamas dictatorship that provoked last year’s war, things are going to be worse than with a government that is moderate, seeking stability, and cooperative with the West.

Here’s an example: On June 1, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) stated that the Gaza Strip “has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates.” The obvious implication? It is Israel’s fault, because of its sanctions. In fact, the Gaza Strip has an infant mortality rate of 17.71 deaths per 1000 births — about the same as Mexico and better than Brazil, Romania, neighboring Egypt (26.2), Turkey (24.8), and Iran (34.7).

None of those, of course, can be blamed on Israel.

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