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January 27, 2008

Sarid's Silly Satire

Yossi_Sarid Gaza.jpe

In a satirical piece meant to mock the notion that Hamas is manipulating and staging a humanitarian crisis, Yossi Sarid argues in Ha'aretz:

In a place of permanent disaster it is difficult to cause a temporary one; it is difficult to bring about a dramatic change in the situation just as it difficult to change its definition: disaster.

How does Sarid define the "disaster"?

The Gaza Strip, as we know, is the most crowded place in the world: 1.5 million people on 300 square miles. Almost all of them have been living for decades in refugee camps, which are more suited for mice and sewer rats than humans.

First, Sarid may not know it, and Ha'aretz simply may not care, but Gaza (with 8,666 people per square mile) is not the most densely populated place in the world. Numerous places, include Monaco (41,608), Singapore (17,751), Gibraltar (11,990), Hong Kong (17,833), and especially Macau (71,466), surpass the Gaza Strip in that respect.

And do "almost all" of the 1.5 million Gazans live in refugee camps? Not according to UNRWA, the UN organization which administers the camps. According to UNRWA, as of December 2006, there are 478,272 registered refugees in camps.

As for why Palestinians still live in refugee camps, Sarid can look to the PLO and UN.

Furthermore, Sarid should be congratulated on his imagination when he writes that the conditions are "suited for mice and sewer rats than humans." Perhaps he missed the New York Times story that day which reported:

Ahlan Ashour, 38, came with his wife to visit the Egyptian family, the Barhoums, who had put them up for 24 days during an earlier period when the Rafah crossing was shut. Mr. Ashour’s wife, Mohsin Elloulu, said she was struck by how much poorer the Egyptians of Rafah are. “At least our streets are paved,” she said of Gaza. The current lack of electricity and supplies is terrible, she said. “But materially, we’re so much more advanced in Gaza.” A driver here, she said, makes less than $1.50 a day, and in normal times in Gaza, $27. “But nothing is normal now,” she said.

Sarid continues in his faulty satire:

When there is no demand and no money to purchase things, it's better that there is no supply and nothing to buy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the AP reported:

Rami Abdou, an economic analyst, estimated that Gazans spent $130 million in less than two days, a princely sum for the poverty-stricken territory.

"Gazans are withdrawing their savings and are borrowing from each other" to spend in Egypt, he said.

In short, Sarid satire flops as it's built on a number of false premises.

Posted by TS at January 27, 2008 04:27 AM

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