Make no mistake, disengagement was the right thing to do for Israel and for Zionism. Israelis had no business settling in Gaza, which in addition to being a moral burden, became an increasing financial and security liability and a foreign policy disaster.
Everyone who hopes for the best for the future of the Palestinian people hoped to see in Gaza the beginnings of Palestinian national construction, akin to the Zionist construction that has characterized Jewish settlement since its inception. The reality is a bitter disappointment, worse than the worst sick racist joke that the most misguided racist could invent about Palestinians. Anyone who hides or prettifies what is happening is not a friend of the Palestinians, or a friend of peace or a humanitarian. If the United States, the Palestinians and the Arab world want to save the Palestinians from chaos and self-destruction, now is the time to act.
The Gaza green houses, pictured above as they were when Israel left the Gaza Strip, are perhaps the most telling symbol of the fiasco that Gaza is becoming, followed in short order by the explosive Hamas parade that resulted in about 20 deaths.
The greenhouses were a symbol of ingenuity and hope for the future of Gaza. They produced flowers, fruits and vegetables out of season and sold them for export in Europe. They were a source of employment for local Palestinians. Probably, like everything else about the settlements, they were heavily subsidized and lost money, but that doesn't mean they had to lose money under Palestinian management.
In August of 2005 a consortium of Jewish philanthropists mobilized to save the green houses for the Palestinians by buying them and giving them to the Palestinian authority - a hopeful gesture of reconciliation. Here is how it was reported in the Khaleej Times, not known as an organ of "Zionist propaganda."
US Jews buy Gaza greenhouses for Palestinians
19 August 2005
NEW YORK — American Jewish philanthropists contributed $14 million to buy former Gaza settlers’ greenhouses for Palestinians, a news report said yesterday.
Without the funds, the Jewish settlers would have destroyed the greenhouses to keep them out of Arab hands as they were forced out of Gaza Strip, The New York Times said.
The greenhouses provide jobs for 3,500 Palestinians and had been a lucrative market for fresh produces for Jewish settlers.
The Times said Mortimer B. Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and a real estate tycoon, last week got a request from former World Bank head James D. Wolfensohn to raise money in order to save the greenhouses. Zuckerman sent out word to Jewish organisations in the United States for help.
Within 48 hours, he received $14 million. Wolfensohn, who contributed $500,000 of his own, is the international envoy to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.
He represents the sponsors of the so-called road map for Mideast peace — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the UN.
The Gaza pullout is part of the quartet’s peace plan.
The private fundraising efforts to buy the greenhouses spread quickly and got US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s support.
She called donors and thanked them for helping the peace process in the Middle East, The Times said.
The gesture was really remarkable, considering that Zuckerman is not known for his love of the Palestinian people. What a source of national pride it could be, for the Palestinians to outdo the Israelis in exporting agricultural produce to Europe! What a thoughtful and meaningful gift!
From this hopeful beginning, came.. the abomination of the desolation. No sooner had Israel left, then the orgy of chaos and destruction began. This is how it was reported by the Associated Press:
Palestinians Loot Gaza Strip Greenhouses
- By LARA SUKHTIAN, Associated Press Writers
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
(09-13) 13:09 PDT NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip (AP) --
Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.
American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash.
Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.
"We need at least another 70 soldiers. This is just a joke," said Taysir Haddad, one of 22 security guards assigned to Neve Dekalim, formerly the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. "We've tried to stop as many people as we can, but they're like locusts."
And here are the "after" pictures below. The tangle of wires at lower left is about all that is left of the hi-tech installations.
If someone doesn't take some action, this is what all of Palestine may look like one day soon. It is not due to "Zionism and Its Impact." There was nothing there before the settlers came. There is less than nothing there now, but once there was the beginning of productivity and hope. It is due only to the actions of Palestinian Arabs - wrecking their own lives and their own futures, because they never invested in building the constructive mechanisms of a state and a society, because hatred or individual survival are more important to the hoodlums who did this than saving their own future or national pride.
Nobody who is concerned for the welfare of Israel can afford to gloat about this either. It is a tragedy, a sick joke from hell. The Hamas and the Devil are laughing, while Palestinian kids starve and plot revenge against the "Zionist" enemy whom, they are told, is the cause of their misery. Find the people who did what you see in the pictures, and you will have found the true enemies of the Palestinian people, of peace and civilization.
PS - As it turns out, the press reports were very misleading. Many green houses were damaged, but about 1,500 remained usable and were replanted by the Palestinians. See Forum discussion.
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