Why Gaza isn't Haiti

Lilac Sigan

Israelis do feel for their neighbors, but in Facebook terms, it's complicated.

One cannot help but wonder sometimes where journalists covering the Middle East get their insights from. Could it be that a deeper understanding of human relationships can be found in Facebook? Hmmm.

A headline caught my eye recently about Israels mixed feelings over sending such extensive medical support to the disaster zone in Haiti, while at the same time not dealing with the humanitarian problems among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mixed feelings? I dont think so. There is absolutely no contradiction. It only exists in the eye of the beholder, and if the beholder happens to be a journalist with a certain mindset - then the facts become something you can very easily overlook. Let me confuse you with the truth, or in Facebook terms, lets click on the Info tab for a second. Its bursting with facts and information, so Ill only throw a few in your direction.

Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East. It is a tiny smidge of a country (most people dont even realize its smaller than New Jersey), and is surrounded by huge Islamic countries many times bigger, that are not very fond of it. I am 46 years old - and to me, thats the way it has always been. Every day, we Israelis wake up with the basic knowledge that our neighbors would have a field day, if only we were dead.

If you think my intention is to persuade you the Palestinians are the bad guys in this story, youre quite wrong. They are poor and unfortunate people, to say the least. A constant disaster zone. They deserve aid and humanitarian support more than anyone, and most Israelis know that their suffering is awful. But thats not the whole picture.

The whole picture is that the Palestinians are ruled by leaders that doom them to misery, time after time after time. In the past four years the Palestinians have been ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization, which stands by its declared objective - to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Hamas also brutally kills and terrorizes its own people if they do anything that stands in the way of achieving this objective, or if they so much as wish for peace, out loud.

In the past two decades, Israel has sent the Palestinian Authority friend requests at least ten times, but their leaders have always chosen to click the ignore button. What's more, Hamas could have made the PA thrive and prosper with all the funding it receives, but it prefers to use it for smuggling ammunition and planning terror attacks.

Those are its priorities. Does anyone even know that in the four years of its rule, Hamas has managed to wipe out nearly all the industrial companies that already existed in the PA, and make tens of thousands of Palestinian people lose their jobs? You wont find any mixed feelings among Hamas, who drove PA's economy into the ground. A prosperous economy? Welfare? Peace? Please dont bother Hamas with these.

Israel, on the other hand, has no serious natural resources to speak of, is constantly under the threat of attack by its gigantic oil-rich neighbors, but is at OECD income per capita levels. Do you want to know why? Its simply a matter of its leaders priorities.

Now lets get back to those journalists covering the Mid East for a minute. Its strange that all the countries surrounding Israel are totalitarian, and promoting human rights is, how shall we put it - not on the top ten of their to-do lists, and still, Israel is the one criticized. The human rights criticism manages to overlook Islamic laws that forbid women to vote or that marry them off at the age of 7.

The criticism also easily overlooks Israels immense efforts to reach equality. Palestinian refugees who left for any Arab country in 1948 still cant be full citizens in those countries, their alleged friends. On the other hand, Palestinians that remained in Israel are all full citizens, with social benefits, free education, and parliamentary representation. One parliament member even used to be the right hand man to Yasser Arafat, while Arafat masterminded the second intifada against Israel. Imagine the same democracy above all setup for a member of Congress who openly provided help to the Taliban or Osama Bin Laden.

Mainly, the criticism somehow manages to overlook one small but pretty serious detail: our neighbor chose to devote all his time and energy to killing us. Is it a wonder our own life tends to get first priority?

Haiti is not the first disaster zone Israel has sent humanitarian aid to. Regrettably, dealing with disaster has become our specialty. The Palestinians are our problematic, very challenged and challenging next door neighbors. If it were so easy to help them out just by sending aid, we would have been the first to do so, long ago. But if I may use Facebook terms again to sum up the situation, it might be best to put it this way: our relationship status? Its complicated. Very complicated. Definitely a lot more complicated than many journalists covering the Mid East care to see.

Do the journalists who overlook all these facts actually help Hamas continue with its terror, leading the poor Palestinians to the vey opposite of peace and prosperity? Maybe its something they should think about.

Because the sad thing is that if it werent for the PA terrorist leaders standing in the way - we could have all been friends by now. And not just in Facebook.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 3, 2010

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

Lilac Sigan

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