Israel not Cause of Gazans' Woe

A year has passed since Operation Cast Lead. Last week, a picture essay straight from Gaza showed markets full of goods and food. Gazans are suffering as unemployment is rampant, but Israel is not the cause. <br/>Delusions are.

Prof. Joel Brinkley,

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Many Palestinians in Gaza, no matter their religious affiliation or political bent, are living in squalor and growing ignorance. Thousands are trying to flee.

Gaza has never been a prosperous enclave; the 140-square-mile territory has always been
Thousands are trying to flee Gaza
a poor, dependent state. But for Hamas, the radical Islamic terrorist group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, the long-term pursuit of a political impossibility trumps even the slightest concern for the the group's 1.5 million "constituents."

Residents of this territory have been subjects of other states - Turkey, Great Britain, Egypt, Israel - for half a millennium. But all the while, during both prosperous and desperate times, they struggled to ensure their children’s education. As a result, Palestinians have been among the best educated people in the world. Literacy rates, even for girls, have hovered around 99 percent. By comparison, in Iran, perhaps the Palestinians' biggest defenders now, and Israel's greatest enemy, UNICEF reports that only 77 percent of the population can read and write. Even Israel's literacy rate is lower: 97.1 percent.

But now, for the first time in the modern era, Gazans as young as 9, 10, 11 are being put to work in ever larger numbers, forgoing school. "Learning achievement has declined along with primary school enrollment," UNICEF reports.

Much of the world blames Israel. During its invasion of Gaza last January, Israeli troops were said to have damaged or destroyed nearly half of the territory's schools along with much of the remaining infrastructure.

The condemnation of Israel continues to this day in the United Nations and elsewhere.

Still, most of the people behind the continuing reproval take little note of Hamas' own campaign of terror in the previous months, lobbing hundreds of missiles toward Israeli population centers. No matter. That's a debate for another day. The point is, a year has passed.

What political concessions has Hamas offered that might have enabled it to make repairs, improve the lot of its people? None. The United Nations reported this fall that one in five Gazans now live in what it called "abject poverty." That is why, it is claimed, many parents are no longer sending their children to school. They need the pennies their children can
Many parents are no longer sending their children to school.
earn at menial jobs to buy food.

Their chieftains don't seem to care. I have interviewed the leaders of Hamas many times over the years, and all of them offered one consistent refrain, time and time again: We are patient. Our resistance will continue as long as it takes - even centuries - until we reach our goal, full control of Palestine.

Of course, that includes the state of Israel. One of them, Ismail Abu Shenab, now deceased, once told me: "There are plenty of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews."

Even Shenaeb, zealot that he was, must have known that nothing like that was going to happen even in his grandchildren's lifetimes - if ever. But he and all his colleagues, then and now, pursued that ludicrous goal in exclusion of all else, and now it is leading to the social destruction of their own people.

Israel and Egypt have locked the gates to Gaza. Israel's closure is more understandable than Egypt's, given that Cairo pretends to be the Palestinian's greatest friend and protector. In any case, it's impossible to know just how many Gazans endorse Hamas' chimerical, single-minded, objective.

The majority of Gazans I have met want to live peaceful lives and provide for their children. Sure, all of them would love to turn the clock back to 1967, before Israel won control of Gaza. That's why most of them still choose to live in decades-old refugee camps, to show
'There are plenty of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews', Shenab said.
that they refuse to accept the current state of affairs.

But now a growing number - half the population, according to recent polls - is trying to get out of Gaza, escape from Hamas control and the deprivation that comes from its rule. In one famous case early this month, a healthy man joined the thousands who are fleeing to Egypt and Israel with bribes and fake medical reports, by pretending to be dying of cancer. He didn't get away with it.

Now, a year after the Israeli invasion of Gaza, it's time to stop blaming Israel for the desperate plight of Gaza's people.  Without question, it's Hamas' fault.

(from The Sacramento BEE)



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