Question to Harriet Sherwood: How are Gazans living in sovereign Palestinian state still “refugees”?

Before addressing the issue noted by our title, per Harriet Sherwood’s “Gaza builders lead economic recovery with some help from the black market“, Jan 22, a few not so minor corrections, to claims made by Sherwood and her Palestinian protagonists, need to be made:

First, there’s this:

Despite easing the blockade in 2010, Israel has maintained a ban on the import of construction materials on the grounds that they could be used to make rockets or build weapons stores or bunkers

This is classic Guardian and classic Sherwood: Sowing doubt by casually noting what Israel claims, without any further attempt to corroborate the facts. Is she suggesting there’s any doubt that Hamas uses such materials for weapons or bunkers?

According to the Terrorism and Information Center,

Hamas makes extensive use of cement to rebuild military infrastructure hit in Operation Cast Lead and to create new military infrastructure. For example, Hamas establishes outposts, training compounds, and storage sites; digs defensive and offensive tunnels; and creates rocket launch sites lined with concrete. Such activities are part of an overall strategy of giving priority to the rehabilitation and buildup of military infrastructure over the needs of the population. Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mash’al said as much at a conference in Damascus when he said, “On the surface, [statements in the Gaza Strip] refer to reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah] and rebuilding, however, what is not revealed is that most of Hamas’ funds and efforts are invested in the resistance and military preparations…”

Second, Sherwood writes:

Israel still bans almost all exports, apart from a few truckloads of strawberries and flowers. Industries such as textiles and furniture, once mainstays of the Gazan economy, struggle to recover without the possibility of trade beyond the territory.

Yet, in a prior passage Sherwood acknowledges that Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing (on Gaza’s southern border), a border which Israel does not control and could certainly be used to facilitate exports.

Third, there’s the following claim which Sherwood doesn’t challenge:

Poverty, remains among the most severe in the world,” said Salem Ajluni, an economist who compiled a report on Gaza’s labour market for Unrwa. 

This claim is just flat-out untrue. As we’ve noted previously, and as even the NYT acknowledged, Gaza “has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.”

Finally, though a throw away line which Sherwood likely wrote with little or no reflection, the following passage needs to be fisked:

Unemployment in Gaza has fallen, but one in three of the potential job market is still without work and poverty is widespread in the teeming refugee camps.

I’ve pointed this out before, but I truly would like Sherwood, or any of this blog’s critics, to explain how you can sincerely make the case that Palestinians living in a  sovereign Palestinian ruled state (more than six years after Israel evacuated every remaining Jew from the territory) can still be considered “refugees”?  

To characterize them as refugees – even assuming these are Arabs who used to live in Israel proper (boundaries set for the Jewish state, per the 1947 UN Partition Plan) and were displaced by the 1948 War – would necessarily suggest that Jews displaced by the ’48 war from homes where they were lived in East Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria (The West Bank), and are now living within the post-war boundaries of the Israeli state, should similarly be considered refugees.

Moreover, what set of political criteria needs to be met for Palestinians to lose their refugee status, according to UNRWA and Western journalists like Sherwood who uncritically accept the group’s expansive and logically absurd understanding of the term? 


8 replies »

  1. Unemployment in Spain is around 23%. That is pretty comparable to Gaza.

    I suggest that Sherwood start looking at a few European countries, let alone third world countries, to see how much better off the “poor Gazans” are than many other places in the world.

    Meanwhile, back in her home country, I noticed as I surfed past the BBC last night that a clothing chain called Peacocks is going into bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of another 10,000 jobs for Britain. 400 Gurkhas are being made redundant in what is left of Britain’s armed forces (the Iranians must have howled with laughter when Britain threatened to retaliate in the Straits of Hormuz!) in addition to the ongoing cuts which are making thousands more “redundant”.

    And arch terrorist Abu Qutata will continue to enjoy his pleasant stay at HM expense because the Eurocrats fear that if he is returned to Jordan to face trial for terrorism, he might be punished. Britain is now trying to pass a law which says that new arrivals who have never held a job in Britain will not be eligible for social welfare benefits, something no doubt some NGO will oppose.

    It may only be a matter of time before more people in Britain wake up to the fact they should be worrying about their own affairs rather than incessantly meddling in the Middle East

    • Well said to that last paragraph. And not only the British. The whole world would be better off without all that “global village” shtick.

      The doctrine that events in one country affect the entire world is nothing but Marxist internationalism given a moral-sounding clothing.

  2. Sherwood:
    Israel still bans almost all exports, apart from a few truckloads of strawberries and flowers. Industries such as textiles and furniture, once mainstays of the Gazan economy, struggle to recover without the possibility of trade beyond the territory.

    As you rightly point, out: the Rafah border crossing is open. Israel is perfectly entitled to close its own border to Gaza.

    And the reference to “a few truckloads” is just sloppy. Per hour? Per year?

  3. Here is another shocking story for Harriet Sherwood.

    From ynetnews……..,”Arab Israeli man locks up 11 year old daughter for 9 years.”…..

    Harriet pull the finger out,and report what is really happening in the ME……

  4. Another one for Harriet Dumbwood

    “Top palestinian muslim cleric mohhamed hussien quotes religious text that includes passages about killing Jews in an end-of -the days struggle.”

    All this was happening in the Jewish capital.

    This mufti is based in Jerusalem……..

    Harriet is not the only one who needs to pull the finger out.

  5. Palestinians in Gaza were forced out of their homes in 1948 and have never been able to return, not even after the end of hostilities. This is the definition of a refugee anywhere in the world.