Monday, June 21, 2010

Perhaps Not Easing the Blockade of Gaza

Israel decided yesterday to ease the blockade of Gaza. Or not. It depends which media outlets you imbibe.

Haaretz tells that the easing is dramatic, and adds gloatingly that the Turks did it.

The New York Times says Israel bowed to pressure following the Mavi Marmara incident, and the American administration is pleased.

The Washington Post reports that Israel is switching from a short list of permitted items to a list of forbidden ones, and speculates that this may be a good thing - the administration thinks so - or may not. We'll have to see, is the tone.

The London Times starts with Tony Blair, and continues with him: their evaluation of the decision is whatever he says, i.e. it's dramatic, it could of course have been even better but it's still good, and of course the Israelis must implement it as decided.

The BBC has a long report, mostly devoid of snark: they tell what changes Israel is making, cite American approval, underline that Tony Blair was instrumental in the decision, and end with a quote from unidentified Palestinians who say the whole thing is a sham. Ah, and they mistakenly tell that the blockade began in 2005 (which is when Israel left Gaza), when in reality it began only in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections.

The Guardian is greatly impressed by how the pressure on Israel worked, after its "deadly interception" of the flotilla. They explain what Israel proposes to do, but also explain that it's not clear what this really means, and then give space for various critics of Israel to explain why it's either not significant or not really going to happen. Unnamed "aid agencies", a top Hamas fellow, an Israeli radical NGO, those sort of people. Still, they add, the White House is pleased. Of course, the main reason must have been to foil the arrival of additional ships.

UNRWA says nothing less than Israel fully throwing open its border is acceptable, so this move isn't.

Juan Cole, whom I rarely read these days, starts with an article from the LA Times about how the Israeli decision is only marginally significant, and may well not really change anything. Cole then goes on to poke fun at Israel's security agencies, who don't understand the Arab world and are ridiculous.

Richard Silverstein manages not to notice the matter at all, so I don't have to link to him and you don't need to check - which is good, because he's inordinately sensitive to his page hits. Mondoweiss also hasn't noticed: odd, that. Those folks never miss a report about how ghastly Israel is, but this one seems to have escaped their attention. At least Andrew Sullivan noticed. He agrees with other bloggers that it's a scandal that Israel may wriggle out of an international investigation of the flotilla incident in return for easing the blockade, but admits the easing itself is a good thing.

The IDF announced it is expanding supplies into Gaza by 30% immediately, with more to come.

Meanwhile, watch the market: prices in Gaza are tumbling since yesterday. Not because shortages will now disappear, but because goods brought in from Israel are of higher quality than those smuggled in through the Rafah tunnels, and are also cheaper.

We're not talking about learned scholars disagreeing about an event from, say, 500 years ago. This all happened last night.


Anonymous said...

German media (BILD and Spiegel) still find it much more interesting that Israel hasn't let Minister Niebel visit Gaza. And the latest and most "terrible" I learnt is that Avigdor Lieberman himself has said no to our Guido Westerwelle (seems to be a great guy your Avigdor, denying our Guido his personal flotilla-high)

- so now everybody from all sides are pomposifying all over our media and the easing of the blockade doesn't get mentioned, at least not as top news.

Instead the discussion is on whether Minister Niebel was right to decree that it is 5 before 12 for Israel...

The most common word in the brouhaha on which all, friend and foe, seem to be able to agree is, that Israel is "kleinlich" (nitpicking)

last week the blockade was still the earth shattering problem and now "who cares"


Barry Meislin said...

Meanwhile, in Kyrgyzstan, and in Kyrgyzstan, and in Kyrgyzstan,and in Darfur, and in Darfur and in Somalia, and in Somalia, and in Somalia, and in Ghana, and in Rwanda, and in Nigeria, and in Somaliam and in Zimbabwe, and in Kenya, and in Yemen, and in Iran, and in Iraq, and in, heh, Gaza (of all places!) .....

But kindly disregard these petty distractions.

On the other hand, for something just a little bit different, try some of this.

(Those fortunate humanitarians, Juan Cole and Andrew sUllivan, ets amis, can now slam Israel for helping Turkey slaughter the Kurds!! Some commentators are just born lucky, eh Jeffrey G.?)

Meanwhile, an international incident is brewing as Armenia seriously upstages Turkey. Stay tuned!!

Gavin said...

I've been a critic of Israels PR but this is I think is excellent work by the Govt. They've not only pre-empted the moves for more flotillas they've put forward a clear and firm case with defined objectives that everyone should be able to understand. The previous blockade was shambolic, no-one really knew what Israel was trying to achieve with it and left Israel wide open to criticism. This is much better; it concentrates on the security issue, confirms the naval blockade and removes many of the issues that the western liberals were complaining about. Turkey may well be responsible for forcing the issue but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Israel are now in a stronger position on their justification for having the blockade.

The Schalit issue I personally think shouldn't be linked to the blockade at all. It implies a promise; predicates a relaxation of the blockade if Schalit is released when the military necessity of the blockade won't change if he is released. Hamas might one day call Israels bluff on that one. But anyway, good work Israel.


AKUS said...

I suspect that Hamas refused to accept the junk from the Mavi Marmara (used medicines, inoperable wheelchairs, etc.) out of fear that it would undercut its "taxes" from the tunnels. I assume now that they will find a way to "tax" the items brought in via Israel.

Meanwhile, of course, there is no sign of the easing of the Egyptian blockade, something that passes without comment.

The Guardian had a video of Blair and Netanyahu, then made the mistake of showing a store-owner in Gaza interviewed in front of shelves groaning with every item you - or a humanitarian peace activists - could possibly want.

Look at this clip about 1 minute from the start - note the trucks bringing loads of stuff into gaza, and the store:

Israel agrees to ease Gaza blockade

AKUS said...

Israel, instead of trying to deal with the release of Gliad Shalit by itself, should be organizing “Gilad Shalit Days”, insisting on holding discussions in the UN to condemn Hamas, organizing “”Friends of Gilad Shalit” groups around the world, demanding that governments represented in the Red Cross hold discussions about how to send aid to him,

Jewish organizations should be loud in condemning politicians who visit Gaza without visiting Gilad Shalit and holding vigils outside their homes.

AKUS said...

A few days ago I took a look at Silverstein;s blog for the first time in ayear (after his spat with the Guardian he still has not been granted the "privilege" of cross posting there).

He is now on a campaign to throw 60 year old dirt at the Israeli's on the panel investigating the Mavi Marmara incident.

Visiting his blog is like a descent into a pool of vomit. Truly awful. It is rare that one sees a blog where the blogger is even worse than those commenting on his articles.

Bryan said...

Richard Silverstein is an egotistical lunatic whose leftism is stronger than even a sense of morality, but, ironically, not strong enough to handle any sort of criticism.

Such people are better left alone where they can't taint other minds.

Anonymous said...

"Such people are better left alone where they can't taint other minds."

but they are tainting other people's mind!!!

our dear Fake Ibrahim has admirers who consider Silverstein a combination of saintlihood and wisdom as yet unsurpassed.

I don't know whether my quest/tactic of spoiling their get-togethers a bit will eventually backfire but I feel I have to try it (granted the conditions at Fake Ibrahim's are exceptionally conducive thanks to the good people of Rosario but in other fields one also doesn't start with the most difficult task)