Catching Up: Winners and Losers in the Gaza Flotilla Fiasco

Gershom Gorenberg

Busy researching a major writing project, I’ve had too little time in both the real and virtual South Jerusalem. So I’m only belatedly posting recent articles.

Here’s a piece of my piece from the American Prospect, scoring the the raid on the Mavi Marmara:

Hamas
Ismail Haniye’s rejectionist government in Gaza could turn out to be a net loser. Yes, it may gain some public support if economic conditions improve. But the Hamas regime exacts taxes on the rampant smuggling via tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. If goods can be imported aboveground, that income will dry up. And with no civilian goods coming through the tunnels, Israel may find it politically easier to attack arms smugglers.

Besides, the flotilla undermines Hamas’ dogmatic attachment to the machismo of armed struggle. Firing rockets into Israel didn’t end the siege; it provoked Israel’s Gaza offensive in December 2008. Without rockets, the flotilla organizers accomplished more.

The Gaza Public
No score yet. The increased traffic at the border crossings is still only a poorly defined promise. Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman of the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem, points out that Gaza needs much more than humanitarian aid. The imports have to include raw materials for factories, replacement parts for machinery, supplies for agriculture. The border crossings must be open for exports from Gaza, to create jobs and give people money to spend. The Israeli Cabinet decision also promises more efficient procedures for people to leave and enter Gaza “for medical and humanitarian reasons.” That’s far short of letting Gazans travel freely to the West Bank — the other part of Palestinian territory — or go abroad.

Ehud Barak
In a just world, the defense minister would finally retire to playing piano and watching old war movies. He bears ministerial responsibility for all the mistakes that went into the raid. As a holdover from the previous government, he’s the strutting, talking symbol of maintaining the siege strategy against Hamas. (Officials who worked under Ehud Olmert claimed… that the former prime minister had wanted to loosen the siege but that Barak wouldn’t listen. If that’s not an excuse, it’s an accusation of a semi-coup.)

Read the full article here.

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