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Monday, June 21, 2004

"Hope, Uncertainty and Violence" in Gaza

Charles Radin reports for the Boston Globe

There's an awful lot of PoorPalestinianWhining in this, but Israel isn't blamed for all of it; nor is Israel credited with anything.

Abu Hamid is asked to describe the effect on his life of the Palestinian Authority taking control of the Gaza Strip in 1994. Everyone within earshot giggles and snickers. He responded with what he said was an Arab proverb. "My father's first wife slapped my face and gave me bread," he said. "His second wife slapped me in the face, kicked me, and took the bread."

His listeners guffaw approvingly, and Abu Hamid explained: In the first intifadah, the 1987-92 round of fighting with Israel that occurred before Arafat returned from exile in Tunis and his Palestinian Authority took over Gaza, "Israel hit us badly, but they supplied food, they let us work in Israel, and things continued. When these people [the Palestinian Authority] came, they brought poverty, death, and corruption, and when the second [current] intifadah came, everything collapsed."

* * *

Khaled Mowaness, 40, a psychologist who lives in Nusseirat, south of Gaza City, said the mix of hopelessness, violence with the Israelis, and inequities within Palestinian society has created ''severe problems with the youth. Many are psychologically handicapped to the degree that they can't cope. The occupation has something to do with this, but not everything." Cities, especially Gaza City, get the lion's share of aid and attention, while frustration and despair grow ever greater in the camps and villages.

* * *

Gloom is everywhere in Gaza, coursing through the ravaged neighborhoods of Rafah where Israeli forces knocked down dozens of buildings in the recent fighting, lying heavy on the central Gaza camps where there is little violence but less hope, wafting through the empty seafront restaurants of Gaza City. Most everyone expects the conflict to go on indefinitely.

"Our sons and their sons are the same," said Fayeq al Bana, 63, as he pointed out where Israeli tank shells blasted through walls and windows and ruined the 12-unit apartment building into which he had poured much of his savings. "Our sons want all of Palestine. Their sons want all of Palestine, too."

I think repeating this sort of simplistic b.s. amounts to promoting it. Our sons and their sons are the same only in that they die when killed; they are not the same in the way they live.
"If I had a job, life would have meaning for me," he said dispiritedly. "For sure it is the Jews' fault. And the Arabs who did nothing for us. And the patronage. If you don't have a connection, you can't hope to get work. I have no future."

So they hate and kill Jews out of boredom?

The U.S. charity, Save the Children, is trying to help. With a grant from USAID, they've built a recreation and sports center in the West Bank. Only they named it for a Palestinian terrorist.