In the war of versions between us and them - regarding the truth about the situation in the Gaza Strip - the balance is tipped this time in favor of the Israeli version. It is simply more reasonable and logical, so it should be adopted unless proven otherwise.
After all, Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular are by nature experts at displays of suffering; the only thing they do all their lives is demonstrate their distress. This time, in the past week, they outdid themselves. The production was truly perfect and succeeded in deceiving the entire world: the way they turned out the lights at one precise moment and sent the children to cry bitterly in front of the cameras, the way they organized long lines for bread and water - miraculous timing and orchestration.
"Les Miserables" as a musical on the West End, Broadway and in Tel Aviv was only a pathetic production in comparison. The organizers of our 60th-anniversary festivities still have something to learn. Since the Palestinians staged the death of the child Mohammed al-Dura in his father's arms and the deaths of other children who were not careful, Palestinian propaganda has not enjoyed such international success.
Every intelligent, objective person in Israel and abroad who is not overcome by hatred of Israel will have no difficulty understanding: It's very complicated to bring a place like Gaza to the point of a "humanitarian crisis," and maybe it's impossible; there wasn't and won't be any such thing. The Gaza Strip, as we know, is the most crowded place in the world: 1.5 million people on 300 square kilometers. Almost all of them have been living for decades in refugee camps, which are more suited for mice and sewer rats than humans. Would such people, with all their years of experience, get excited by a temporary blackout or a momentary shortage of water and flour? Is that what will break them? Will anyone be persuaded to believe their fake whining?
In a place of permanent disaster it is difficult to cause a temporary one; it is difficult to bring about a dramatic change in the situation just as it is difficult to change its definition: disaster.
Gaza's unemployment rate is unknown. Perhaps 60 percent and perhaps 80 percent, what difference does it make, 20 percent more or less. When there is no demand and no money to purchase things, it's better that there is no supply and nothing to buy. There is no envy at least. If the welfare agencies are supporting 900,000 needy people, let them support another 100,000 or 200,000 - the difference means nothing to them.
The Gaza Strip is therefore the perfect place for punishment measures - these steps don't make things better or worse, they only make you tougher, like everything that kills gradually rather than immediately. Gaza is a dream laboratory for experiments on human beings, to discover the precise point when a dependent person transfers from one situation to another - when does he keep up the struggle and when does he stop and become acclimated? Or when is the horse's breaking point - when does it only continue to lose weight and when does it flop and breathe its last?
In this spirit we also have to understand the prime minister's words at a meeting of the Kadima Knesset faction two days ago. He doesn't care, he said, if the kerosene runs out in Gaza, and as far as he is concerned, let them walk. Ehud Olmert did not intend to sound cruel, he only wanted to sound determined. Even he knows that the refugees will not be forced to abandon their Volvos and Mercedes at the side of the road and make their way on tired feet. After all, these are the feet that were meant for walking from one checkpoint to the next, for prolonged and humiliating standing at the crossings.
These are the feet that do not rest and are in constant movement from the dead of night to get to work on time and return to the hovel on time. But even those good days are over, and now they can sleep all day and think dangerous thoughts every night. Sleep is good for an empty stomach, and ugly thoughts are good for people fed up.
At some point it would be a good idea to interview the man who turned off the switch. What did he feel when he cut off the current? All I felt, he will reply, was a slight shaking of the piston, which twittered for a moment before it fell silent.
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