Sunday, October 02, 2005

Unoccupied


From the Washington Post, via LGF, a Palestinian writes an editorial about post-Israel Gaza:


I talk with my friends. I met Ala'a Younis, 25, when we were in high school together in Gaza City. Today he is an unemployed engineer who lives in a small town called Deir el-Balah. Since graduating from university in 2003, he hasn't had a job that lasted more than three months. His despair is reflected in his dull eyes and unkempt beard.

"I was very hopeful about the withdrawal, but I am disappointed now, as nothing really changed," he said. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, university graduates here have a higher rate of unemployment than any other group of Palestinians -- it's 47.5 percent.

Because Palestinians will be loyal to anyone who helps them survive, Ala'a says, Hamas will do increasingly well as a political party. "Look at the head of Al Salah Association [an Islamic charity connected to Hamas], he is now the mayor of Deir El Balah," he said.

Ialso had a talk with Mohammed Hassoona, my neighbor. He's one of some 300,000 Palestinians who lost their jobs in Israel during the five-year cycle of violence. He has seven children. The $200 a month he gets from the Palestinian Authority "does not feed my children bread," he said.

He had hoped that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would result in less tension and the possibility that he could work in Israel again, but "nothing really changed." He is frustrated not only with Israel but with his own leaders: "If the PA does not do something, our misery will blow up in their faces."

He's right. The key to Gaza's future is the restoration of the Palestinian economy. Only this will pull the rug out from under Hamas and eradicate the chaos resulting from poverty and unemployment.

Gaza needs these links to the outside world not only to ship goods, but to provide access to Israel and other Arab countries for our graduates and unemployed workers. We have heard international promises to make the Gaza pullout a success -- but the political realities and absence of goodwill between the conflicting parties make this a distant dream.

The world sees Gaza, I think, the way we saw ourselves a few weeks ago -- "liberated" from the Israelis. But I fear that the world now thinks it can ignore us.

"I think we were better off before the Israelis left," said Mohammed, my neighbor. "At least we were termed 'occupied,' but now we are not; we have been left alone in this barren land."


Well, what do you know? Gaza needs the Israelis. What an idea. I guess they should have thought of that before, you know, they killed all those Jews.