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August 31, 2015

Washington Post Ignores Reality in Gaza

Washington Post reporting on Gaza Strip’s small middle, or perhaps better, upper middle class by William Booth (“A parallel reality in Gaza,” Aug. 24, 2015) attempts to highlight an incongruity evidenced amid post-war recovery in the territory. The Strip is ruled by Hamas, a U.S.-listed terror group. But in one important regard Booth, the Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, highlights the newspaper’s too frequent failure to explore in depth important observations mentioned only in passing. This failure can lead readers’ to infer Israeli responsibility for problems more accurately the result of Palestinian actions.

The article begins by noting that “media images beamed from the Gaza Strip rightly focus on the territory’s abundant miseries,” which include “bombed-out neighborhoods.” But The Post then details what the report calls “the Gaza outside the war photographer’s frame.”

The paper asserts that Gaza City, while having “the highest unemployment rate in the world,” is also home to “personal trainers, medium-rare steaks, law school degrees and decent salaries.” The Post describes clubs, a struggling luxury car dealership, a “$100-a-month” newly opened and “air-conditioned sports club,” a soon-to-debut sushi bar—even a reopened five-star hotel.

In detail, the paper chronicles the prices, opportunities and travails of what it presents as the “small, tough, aspirational middle class” of Gaza City. The Post describes the economic “revival” as “jarring” when compared with areas that remain unreconstructed following last summer’s Hamas-initiated war.

Yet, one reason such inequality is “jarring” lies with the government that has ruled the Gaza Strip since its election in 2006—an election The Post ignores by asserting that Hamas simply “took control of the coastal strip.” It did oust its Fatah movement partner in the Palestinian Authority from Gaza in a “five-day war” in 2007, but won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council the year before.

The Post says “not a single one of the 18,000 homes destroyed in last summer’s war is habitable. Reconstruction moves at a glacial pace. Black market cement is the currency of the realm.” These sentences describing reconstruction efforts resemble the description given in an August 22 New York Times article (“One year after war, people of gaza still sit among ruins”).

However, unlike The Post, The New York Times reported that not only does 37,000 tons of cement sit unused in Gaza warehouses, cement and other reconstruction materials are being used by Hamas to construct tunnels to attack Israelis. The Times said “Mr. Hassaina [Mofeed M. Al Hassaina, Gaza-based minister of housing and public works], other Palestinian leaders and United Nations representative all said that Israel has done its part in reasonable time and had allowed cement into Gaza. The unmentioned 800-pound gorilla in The Post’s feature is Hamas’ priority, preparation for renewed aggression against Israel, not reconstruction and not the economy.

The newspaper fails to remind readers of this despite editorializing that an Israeli TV news report was “snarky” for asking if guests arrived at the Gaza resort hotel by tunnel. Similarly, while mentioning an “Israeli blockade, with…tight restrictions on travel and trade” that The Post claims has “squeezed” Gaza’s middle class, it omits mention of the more stringent Egyptian blockade of Gaza. By contrast, The New York Times observes that the Egyptian blockade—and delay of reconstruction material by the Palestinian Authority—reflect concerns over how Hamas will use those materials.

The New York Times also says that Arab countries have failed to meet their promised aid for Gaza reconstruction. Qatar has only “provided $6 million of a pledged $50 million to rebuild 1,0000 homes.” Kuwait, which “has promised $75 million,” has failed to deliver any funds. In its coverage, The Post omits these important facts that The Times reported.

The Post did give readers an interesting look at a relatively unexamined part of the Gaza Strip. But if failed to pursue questions it implicitly raised. Yes, Gaza’s middle class maybe small and struggling, but still seeking opportunities to enjoy itself and relieve the stress of life in the Strip. No, sluggish reconstruction—like the original destruction itself—is not primarily Israel’s responsibility. Those bucks stop on the desk of Hamas and its supporters.—Sean Durns

Posted by ER at August 31, 2015 04:16 PM

Comments

How can I\we make the Washington Post, and other media realize that a 1\2 truth is the lie of ommission?

Posted by: jacob t. chachkes at September 3, 2015 05:32 PM

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