Guardian

The Fur’s Flying at the Guardian… and Tee Shirts in Gaza


This is a guest post by AKUS

The Guardian seems to have developed a strange interest in sartorial affairs in Israel and Gaza.

First, we had a rather unusual article by a vegetarian contributor, Seth Freedman, who has decided to make a stand against a community with which we would normally expect him to align himself with – the ultra-orthodox.

The sin the (male) members of this community are committing, despite the points Freedman might normally give them for their opposition to the Jewish state in which they (and he) live, is to continue to purchase and wear shtreimals – traditional hats lined with fur. The British are well known as a nation with an almost fanatical love of animals (and increasingly, a strong dislike of Israel and Jews exhibited by readers of the Guardian) so this topic is well within the mainstream, some editor at the Guardian apparently thought, of matters that might enthuse their reading public.

Well, the first comments were somewhat disappointing, revealing an unusually accommodating view of another of Israel’s apparent transgressions – for example, from an old “friend” of ours:


It only went downhill (sorry … J) from there with a well-deserved crack at the author that somehow escaped moderation:


Roughly half the comments on this thread were deleted, so it’s really hard to know what got the readers worked up. It must have been a bit disappointing to have the usual efforts at bashing Israel brushed aside by a largely incredulous readership on this occasion.

But clearly, clothing seems to matter. So … What could be better than to pay a visit to the Guardian’s pet territory – Gaza? It was time for a hard-hitting article from there about … clothes. Rory McCarthy, who we all thought had typed his last for the Guardian, remains on the beat and provided a suitable article which appeared on April 6th about the clothing trade in Gaza.

The article, which did not permit comments, starts surprisingly optimistically with its first sentence:

“Israeli authorities have allowed shoes and clothes into the Gaza Strip for the first time in three years of the tight economic blockade of the Palestinian territory”.

The second sentence, however, reveals the real point of the article:

“But Gazan businessmen say much of the shipment is ruined and their spiralling costs will never be recovered”.

McCarthy reports that “goods have sat in storage for three years, costing their owners thousands of pounds in fees and in some cases arriving so riddled with damp that the items are unsellable.”

The reason is that according to McCarthy, Israel, incredibly, regards Gaza as a “hostile entity since the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas seized control in June 2007”. Somehow, McCarthy manages to avoid the entire issue of rocket fire that occurred daily into Israel during the first two of the last three years, stopped only and nearly completely by Operation Cast Lead. Clearly, he thinks that Israel should have catered to the sartorial requirements of the Gazans even as they terrorized Israelis living next door to them by firing rockets randomly into Israeli communities, including, not unimportantly, firing rockets at the very crossing points those goods would have had to use in order to reach their destination in Gaza.

But wait – that’s not all, as they like to say on late night TV, while trying to sell a variety of dubious goods to insomniacs. Two days later, on April 8th, McCarthy discovers that Hamas is – incredibly – taxing the residents of Gaza.

“Hamas”, McCarthy has discovered, “has begun to raise new taxes in Gaza in an apparent effort to shore up their coffers – as the economy of the small, overcrowded strip of land descends into a vast and often unfathomable parallel market”.

I have news for McCarthy – where I live in the US, local government has begun to raise taxes in an apparent effort to shore up its coffers as well. The point is, it appears, that it’s getting tough to maintain Hamas’ ability to fund its bureaucracy which no doubt includes thousands of “civilians” parading around with AK-47s:

“Taxes [are] even levied on smuggle [sic] goods as Gaza’s rulers unable to cover pay for 30,000 staff three years into Israeli blockade”.

Mind you, it looks like there’s a lot to tax:


Hamas is much more creative than we might think: “Hamas [has started imposing] a tax on smuggled goods, then charging administrative fees on tunnel operators and now importing goods itself to trade in the market in Gaza. But in recent months it began reviving old, long-forgotten tax codes. A 25% tax has been imposed on the cheap petrol smuggled in from Egypt.” A bit like the only recently rescinded 108 year-old 3% excise tax on telephone communications imposed in the USA in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American war.

This litany of attempts to paint life in Gaza as so bleak and heavily taxed despite rings a little hollow when a moment’s reflection would show most of us that we are faced with the same issues in our own communities. Moreover, the articles appeared about a week after an article in the Economist that opened by pointing out that some in Gaza are even prospering – a theme we see repeatedly in the media outside the pages of the Guardian and the screens of Press TV and the BBC. In fact, in a sort of back-handed swipe at Israel and the PA, the Economist even points out some benefits of living in Gaza:

“Israel’s siege still causes misery. Yet some economists say the strip is growing faster than the West Bank run by Hamas’s rival Palestinian Authority (PA), albeit from a far lower base. The petrol pumped into Gaza by underground pipes and hoses from Egypt costs a third of what it does in Ramallah, the Palestinians’ West Bank capital, where Israel supplies it. Free health care is more widely available in Gaza. Imports travel faster through the tunnels than via Israel’s thickets of bureaucracy. The web of Israeli checkpoints that still impedes Palestinian movements and commerce on the West Bank is absent in Gaza.”

Those tunnels seem to be able to allow cars to pass through, and those taxes used to pay Hamas’ bureaucrats seem to have a positive effect as well:

“As well as lower prices, Gazans benefit from civil-service payrolls. Several outfits pump cash into the strip’s economy: the local Hamas government; the UN, which employs 10,000 Gazans; and Salam Fayyad’s West Bank government, which is the largest employer of all. Payments to Hamas and its connected tunnel-operators boost the economy too. A car-dealer bringing in a new Hyundai saloon through the tunnels stands to make a profit of $13,000”.

So here are two views of the same situation – one, deploring the destruction of tee-shirts and imposition of taxes in Gaza, the other pointing out what seems like a situation reminiscent of any third-world country – or Greece. What both seem to miss, however, is how easily the whole situation could be normalized – all Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have to do is renounce terror, end rocket fire into Israel, release Gilad Shalit, and demonstrate a willingness to live peacefully next to Israel . Then, if they are coping quite well now, they could be doing a great deal better in the future.

Perhaps it’s time for the Guardian, the Quartet, the “activists” of all stripes, the meddlers, the eitzes-gibbers, the Jimmy Carters, the Banki Moons, etc. etc. to pass that message to Hamas and the people in Gaza who just want a normal life. It’s really not that difficult to get it if they really want it. And then they can have all the tee-shirts and Hyundai saloons they want.

29 replies »

  1. Akus, thanks for telling us how Hamas is finding tax solutions to its cash strapped situation. They may be terrorists and tyrants and murderers but they are certainly economically resourceful. I understand that you also get taxed to provide your country with the necessary. Hamas however has an advantage over you. It has found two sources that your economists for all their sophistication, have not.

    The first is the tunnels and the wealth that flows through them. The second, you will be glad to know, is that the taxes wrung out of you help to provide them with the good blings in life.

  2. “Roughly half of the posts on this tread were deleted”

    Including all of mine,That tread would have to be one of the dumbest I have ever read on CiF,Seth was really scratching the bottom with that one.

    What can you expect,if you pay peanuts,you will get monkeys.

  3. But wait – that’s not all, as they like to say on late night TV, while trying to sell a variety of dubious goods to insomniacs.

    Nice one!

  4. “..“But Gazan businessmen say much of the shipment is ruined and their spiralling costs will never be recovered”.

    Interesting this but hardly surprising. People will remember the report here of the BBC Today programme about Gaza and how the shops are now replete with consumer goods but that even the poorest have to pay over the odds for food and other aid, meant to be provided free to those who need it, and which we have all donated. I’d be willing to bet that these Gazan businessmen are whingeing because they cannot make as much profit from selling the clothing from that shipment.

    This is akin to the definition of chutzpa in the joke – about the stowaway on a ship who complains to the ship’s cook about the food.

  5. “………What both seem to miss, however, is how easily the whole situation could be normalized – all Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have to do is renounce terror, end rocket fire into Israel, release Gilad Shalit, and demonstrate a willingness to live peacefully next to Israel …….”

    Are you kidding, AKUS? Conditions couldn’t be better for Hamas as they are. They own the tunnel system, and because the tunnels are the primary way that goods reach Gaza, they have a monopoly – and a very lucrative business. They can tax at whatever rate they choose. Yes, very good market conditions for Hamas, indeed.

    Additionally, all they have to do to keep the status quo is to lob an occasional rocket or mortar shell (or commission Islamic Jihad) into Israel, or set up a trap for the IDF, and conditions will remain the same. Sure an occasional martyr is necessary, but what could be better than 72 virgins in Allahland?

    To top it off, Hamas receives more attention from the west with the status quo. How many Brits visit Gaza in any given week (besides Galloway) that implore Israel to just end the “siege” and the “suffering”?

    Demonstrate a will to live in peace with Israel? What would be the point?

  6. This is such a typical sethele article, a lot of musing about nothing, looking for a hook of some sort to try and make it a story, and he manages to come up with what a wonderful pr campaign it is, a glorious opportunity to enhance Israel’s position in the eyes of the international community, surely the ism’s will fall over themselves with Israel.

    He significantly omits the fact that the only people in Israel who wear these furs, and the only people who would have significant opposition….are the very same one’s that arabist apologists fawn over as examples of “not all Jews are zionists”.

    This happens to be an almost non-issue in Israel as furs are not much of a commodity, and the usage is so minimal that its impact would be minimal.
    If anything the backlash will become another in the secular/religious paradigm, with the actual “fur” being less important than the encroaching of secular laws on traditional religious customs.

  7. Excellent article, Hawkeye. And Sunshine’s comment on CinF was brilliant – well worth a wager as to how long it does or doesn’t last until the CinF headsman’s censor’s axe.

  8. ” The British are well known as a nation with an almost fanatical love of animals”

    On a lighter note, if that’s his real pic, stevehill looks like a Perdue chicken.

  9. Peter

    furs are not much of a commodity

    Israel is warmer than northern countries? Who would have thunk it?

    with the actual “fur” being less important than the encroaching of secular laws on traditional religious customs

    A very intelligent point – especially given Israel’s need to keep the precarious civil accord between secular and religious.

  10. Meanwhile, antisemitic debauchery on CIF does not ebb away. It goes on day in and day out. Talk is cheap, guys. We have to do something concrete. For starters, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to inject the Guardian’s brazen bias into British politics now. It’s election time… after all.

  11. Hawkeye

    “the usual efforts at bashing Israel ”

    This is unnecessary. You are the editor… not an opinionated poster. You should be taking a more distant view. You must learn understatement if you are taking on a Brit newspaper.

    You should hint more . All your supporters here know that you think Israel gets ” bashed ” on CIF ..by stating it openly you are shouting , rather than stating , your stance.

  12. @Berchmans
    “Hawkeye

    “the usual efforts at bashing Israel ”

    This is unnecessary. You are the editor… not an opinionated poster. You should be taking a more distant view. You must learn understatement if you are taking on a Brit newspaper.

    You should hint more . All your supporters here know that you think Israel gets ” bashed ” on CIF ..by stating it openly you are shouting , rather than stating , your stance.”

    Before you open your mouth and come out with more rubbish, here’s a hint – how about reading the first line of the post which is in bold.

  13. Sergio Bramsole

    .

    ” antisemitic debauchery on CIF does not ebb away. …. . ”

    .

    This made me smile… “antisemitic debauchery” is wonderful ..where do you get such ideas ? Is it not easier to give up a settlement or two rather than doing handflips of logic to imagine your critics to be cravat-wearing seducers of innocence?

  14. Why don’t you telephone the Guardian on Monday and ask to speak with Bella Mackie or Adam Boult to find out why. If you get no satisfaction call up Katherine Viner and give her a piece of your mind.

  15. why. last time it took me 3 months to get back on line and fight the power, i reckon its to to do with the school boy on tonights thread
    calvuna, who are these people on the guardian???

  16. smtx1
    once you learn who are the people that control the paper , every paper , you understand that you read bullshit all your life .

  17. I said nothen 2 offend the guardian, theyre weird people, why have they moderated me, i know why, cos im a contensioious Jew of russian/morrocon (Tottenham descent) if only they knew the half of it, i was brought up on furnival street

  18. Wearing animal furs is morally wrong,we should use Faux (Faux as in Seth’s Faux articles) Fur instead.

    Faux Fur is made of acrylics and polymers,these polymers come from sources such as coal,limestone and petroleum.

    Mining and drilling for these products does wonders for the environment.

  19. Daddy’s gone hunting for rabbit skins,mommy made a great stew.

    Sounds immoral,or daddy should have drilled for oil,built a factory, mixed some noxious chemicals and made Faux fur instead.

  20. 3 articles about Israel (that I know of) all closed,and for what reason? Is it to keep out pro-Israeli posters.To leave the field open to posters like Gazagirl,
    papalagi,Steve hill,and the rest of CiF’s favored posters.

  21. THH

    ” who are the people that control the paper , every paper , ”

    Sounds like a conspiracy..a non Jewish conspiracy! 🙂

    smtx01

    “, on cif, they have just moderated me, why is that? ”

    The worst thing is you put effort into keeping it non extreme ( and for you this will have been an effort) and they still delete it…it leaves you ( or me anyway) furious at the waste of time .

    They are clearly worried about legal comebacks…I know you good folk see anti Israeli hatred behind every bush but this will only be part of the truth!

    immoral

    “3 articles about Israel all closed,and for what reason? Is it to keep out pro-Israeli posters ( ?) ”

    The time the articles open coincides with Brit work time …the explanation is a little less cloak and dagger than you suggest.

  22. THH

    once you learn who are the people that control the paper , every paper , you understand that you read bullshit all your life .

    Bullshit is pretty bad.

    Biased Bullshit is so much worse.

    But then, The Guardian is ‘fair and balanced.

    Porgina says so.

  23. SteveHill:

    “I am prepared to eat meat and wear leather”

    Wow that is a mental image I can do without….

  24. armoros

    “a mental image I can do without….”

    An infinite number of monkeys will produce Hamlet so I guess it is no surprise that I finally found an extremely funny post on CIFWatch.

  25. TomWonacott, whereas you may be right that things may be good for Hamas pro tem economically, it seems moot as to how long that will last if there is no trickle down effect for all Palestinians.

    I doubt that the average Palestinian benefits but they are all caught between a rock and a hard place since they daren’t even think about overthrowing Hamas, much less talk about or plan it for fear of harm or execution.

    As it is, they live in poverty and are kept so to be paraded before Hamas’ useful idiots in the western and other media, and have to pay above the odds for aid which is meant to be given to them free of charge.

    And they say that Fatah was corrupt!