Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Hamas Economic Crisis Reveals Gaza As A Just Terrorist Group Surrounded By Human Shields

Posted: 25 May 2010 09:02 AM PDT

The Daily Alert in its May 24th edition yesterday quoted the Financial Times that

Gaza Faces Supply Glut as Smuggled Goods Flood In Through Tunnels (registration required).

But despite that, Hamas is facing a major financial crisis:

Hamas faces financial crisis after three-year Israeli blockade

Laboring under an Israel blockade supported by Egypt, Hamas hasn't paid government employees full salaries for two months. It's also had to raise taxes, an unpopular move in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Hamas has failed to pay in full the monthly salaries of its roughly 30,000 civilian and security employees in the past two months, signaling that the Islamist organization may be in the throes of its first financial crisis since it seized control of Gaza in 2007.

"The government is facing a crisis," said Hamas lawmaker Jamal Nassar last month. "The siege on the [Hamas-run] Palestinian government has been tightened recently and because of this it has been unable to bring in funds from abroad."

In response, Gaza's Hamas-run government has imposed new taxes in recent weeks. Cigarette packs cost a dollar more than they did last month, and the price of fuel is up 3 percent. Building materials are in short supply under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, and scavengers now pay hefty fines even on the rubble they salvage.

The duties have sown popular discontent across an already impoverished Gaza.

More interestingly, it seems that it is finally beginning to dawn on Gazans just how they got into this situation--and they are not necessarily blaming Israel:

"I run my generator because the electricity is cut, and I cannot do business," says Ahmed, a shop owner who was taxed for putting his generator on the street outside his store.

"Why is the electricity cut?" he asks. "Because Hamas is in power, and the borders are closed. So now, Hamas, you will charge me for my steadfastness under your siege?"

Such sentiments are widely shared in Gaza, where unemployment stands at roughly 40 percent, and 4 in 5 residents are dependent on food aid.

Apparently, no matter how successful the tunnels are in bringing in goods, there is still a problem when you have to actually pay for them.

Tunnel Economics does have a downside--especially when there is a crackdown. Besides Egypt cracking down on financial transactions, on May 10 Arab Bank announced it was going to close its three branches in Gaza , which would cut off one of Hamas's last financial lifelines from the outside world.

The fact of the matter is that the economic viability of Gaza since the bloody Hamas coup has always been a mirage:

Hamas needs approximately $16 million monthly for salaries, says Deputy Finance Minister Ismail Mahfouz.

The Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank foots the bill for most of the government services in Gaza. But Hamas is believed to also be financed by Syria, Iran, and Islamic charities abroad, with just 10 percent of revenue generated locally.

Gaza may finally be revealed as nothing more than a terrorist enclave surrounding by human shields.

by Daled Amos

Gaza: you can never have too many snickers bars

Posted: 25 May 2010 04:26 AM PDT

The BBC reports:

A fleet of nine ships from Europe and Arab states is making another attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Daily Alert blog excerpts a Financial Times article:

The prices of many smuggled goods have fallen in recent months, thanks to a supply glut. Tunnels have become so efficient that shops all over Gaza are bursting with goods.

Coca-Cola, Nescafe, Snickers and Heinz ketchup are both cheap and widely available. Tunnel operators have also flooded Gaza with Korean refrigerators, German food mixers and Chinese air conditioning units. "Everything I demand, I can get," says Abu Amar al-Kahlout, who sells household goods out of a warehouse big enough to accommodate a passenger jet.

Apparently, despite the bounty, Ismail Haniyeh just doesn't have quite enough Snickers bars. Somehow I doubt anyone would consider his lack of snackfoods a humanitarian crisis.

Peter's perverse principle

Posted: 25 May 2010 04:06 AM PDT

I haven't weighed in on Peter Beinart's silly essay in the New York Review of Books. Shmuel Rosner though, asked Beinart a few questions. Beinart's answers show that he's ignorant of what Israel is. In particular, Beinart, in one of his responses says:

I don't think they're irrelevant. You're obviously right that the failure of the Oslo process moved Israeli politics to the right. (Although it always bugs me when people who clearly opposed Barak's willingness to give back most of the West Bank turn around and use Arafat's rejection of that offer as a reason to oppose land for peace, when they were palpably against it in the first place). But Arafat hasn't been around for a while now (thank goodness). Instead, you have in Abbas, and particularly Fayyad, far better Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. And yet settlement growth continues essentially unabated (even this year, despite the supposed partial "ban") and this Israeli government is clearly hostile to the notion of a Palestinian state (despite Netanyahu's mouthing of the words under US pressure, which Tzipi Livni rightly declared a sham). I can understand the disillusionment in Israel after Camp David and Taba, but it seems wildly counterproductive to use that disillusionment as a reason to foreclose the possibility that a new, better, Palestinian leadership might accept the kind of parameters that Arafat rejected.

Maybe Israel moved a little to the right in the last election. But, as I've written many times, Israel's political landscape is significantly to the left of where it was even 15 years ago. The Palestinians despite the territory and legitimacy they've been granted still deny the right for Israel to be a Jewish state. And yes, that's true even of the so-called moderates whom Beinart lauds.

Gil Troy had an excellent response to Beinart:

Increasingly, championing Israel was deemed "conservative." The timing was particularly ironic, amid Israel's Gaza withdrawal, then Ehud Olmert's centrist government offering the Palestinians generous concessions. Clearly, as a modern capitalist consumerist society Israel is not the socialist workers' paradise David Ben-Gurion imagined. Israel remains vexed - and tarred - by the continuing Palestinian conflict. Israel's current governing right-wing coalition includes some parties that have taken appalling anti-democratic positions. And Israel occasionally does stupid things, such as banning Noam Chomsky from the West Bank (then rescinding the ban).

Still, this wave of articles paints Israel not as leaning rightward but as abandoning democracy. These shrill attacks ignore the many counter-balancing forces - and Netanyahu's own centrist shifts. Avigdor Lieberman is an unpopular, straitjacketed foreign minister, often bypassed. Still, he attracts more attention than moderates like the urbane, cosmopolitan Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.

In neo-conning Israel critics overlook Arab illiberalism. Peter Beinart correctly notes that many young Jews resent hearing about Palestinian terrorism, incitement and intransigence. Casting the Arabs as the victims and Israel as the aggressor constitutes one of the greatest con jobs in modern politics.

Beinart confuses liberalism with virtue. Beinart refuses to credit to Israel for any concessions Israel made - often with devastating results. These results were often at odds with what Beinart and his ilk predicted. If in 1990 you had said "Over the next 20 years Israel will withdraw from major Palestinian population areas, including all of Gaza and after all of these withdrawals the Palestinians will still promote terror and deny Jewish statehood and the world will still blame Israel for failing to make peace" the likely response even from someone like Beinart would have been, "If Israel would do all that, terrorism would stop and if it didn't stop the world would be sympathetic to Israel."

Instead Beinart decided that no concession is ever enough unless it makes the Palestinians happy giving the irredentists veto power over peace. The irony with Beinart's view is that it is decidedly illiberal.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Fortunately they weren't violent tea party types

Posted: 25 May 2010 04:02 AM PDT

A group of angry protester descended on the house of a bank executive the other day. From what was described the protesters trapped a teenager in the house. Fortunately, they weren't tea party protesters, or it would have been really bad. They were members of the SEIU union. I'm sure the young man who couldn't leave the house was comforted to know that.

I took a quick look for any MSM coverage of this. I found this, in the blog section of the Atlanta Journal Constitution but it wasn't in the regular news pages. (This should have been front page of the Washington Post.)

Just imagine what kind of coverage and commentary would ensue if a tea-party protest were to unfold this way. Forget the police; Janet Napolitano's federal homeland security personnel would have come and arrested the "right-wing extremists."

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