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The Tentacle


July 19, 2006

Fruits and Vegetables for Peace

Kevin E. Dayhoff

On June 25, in the lower end of the Gaza Strip, very near the border with Egypt, militant Palestinian members of Hamas attacked an Israeli watchtower and two armored vehicles at Kerem Shalom. Two of the Palestinian gunmen were killed as well as two Israeli soldiers. Three other Israeli soldiers were wounded and one soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was taken hostage.

Incredibly, in order to pull off this act of lunacy, the Palestinians dug a two mile tunnel from the Gaza town of Rafah into Israel.

Three days later, after it had become obvious that Hamas was not going to return the prisoner, Israelis tanks and infantry crossed the border and sealed off Rafah as Israeli jets took out all the connecting bridges in an effort to prevent Hamas from relocating Corporal Shalit.

While they were at it, the Israelis have taken the opportunity to further destroy the capability of Hamas to utilize other areas of the Gaza Strip for launching rockets into Israeli territory.

Apologists for the Palestinians have suggested that the Israelis have acted disproportionately and are now engaged in exacting collective punishment upon the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

It has been almost 60 years since the state of Israel was established shortly after the atrocities of World War II. Since then the Israelis have established a vibrant economy and a productive way of life, with the exception of militant Palestinians insisting on killing innocent civilians in acts of homicidal bombing.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians still exist on the verge of starvation in abject poverty and maintain a maniacal hatred of the Jewish people, while wallowing in the pity of worldwide apologists.

One would think that - considering the petro-wealth of the Arab nations in the region - adequate resources could be brought to bear to aid the suffering Palestinian people in becoming productive self-determining members of the world community.

The answer is that the Arab community has no interest in helping the Palestinians as long as they are busy killing Jews.

After the elections on January 25, when the radical Islamic movement Hamas won a large majority in the new Palestinian parliament by capturing 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats, many countries cut off aid to the Palestinian government.

If you will recall, Hamas, the political party that considers itself at war with Israel, has refused to recognize Israel and has further vowed to push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea by force of violence.

Since 1967 the Israelis have been pressured by the world to abandon the "occupied territories in order to gain peace." In return, the Israelis have been told that the Palestinian terror tactics will stop.

In a monumental concession for peace, Israel abandoned its rightful claim to Gaza and began the process of abandoning much of the West Bank.

If that was not enough, not only did the Israelis leave and recognize Gaza as an independent entity under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority - but they also left an economic infrastructure for which the Palestinians could capitalize and prosper. This has not been widely reported by the international press.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In the past several decades, the Israelis had begun to develop Gaza into an economic powerhouse. They built thousands of greenhouses on "moshav" agricultural cooperatives, employed Palestinians, filled the treasury of the Palestinian Authority and provided Israel with 75 percent of its fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Gush Katif settlement alone produced high-quality insect-free fruit and vegetables in one of the most technologically advanced greenhouse systems in the world. The Gush Katif gardens exported over $125 million in agricultural products to Europe each year.

When the anticipated Israeli pull-out was in the early stages of discussion, the Palestine Economic Development Corporation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Palestinian Authority implored the Israeli not to dismantle and move the greenhouses, which some have estimated were worth as much as a half-a-billion dollars.

In a transaction put together by James Wolfenson, the former president of the World Bank, the greenhouses were purchased from the Israelis for $14 million dollars and given to the Palestinian Authority.

Who paid the $14 million? The Saudis? A consortium of Arab nations investing petro-dollars for the future of their Arab brothers?

Nope!

Americans paid for it.

Mr. Wolfenson donated $500,000 of his own money. Billionaires Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News and World Report and the New York Daily News, and Leonard Stern contributed.

And, in a little known gesture, $10 million was put up by Bill and Melinda Gates.

What was the Arab response? Gratitude? Expansion of the successful enterprise - by taking advantage of a violence-free atmosphere, employing even more Palestinians and enriching the Palestinian Authority?

Nope!

The Arab response was renewed violence. Within days of the Israelis pull-out, Palestinians (including Palestinian police) destroyed over 3,000 greenhouses and ruined 38 years of Israeli hard work. They trashed an economic and agricultural powerhouse worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

In several published accounts, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said that security was not available to protect the future of Gaza - as "hundreds of masked Hamas gunmen wielding rifles and grenade launchers paraded through the streets of a nearby refugee camp."

Yeah, the very Hamas that now runs the place. And after the greenhouses were destroyed, what was the Hamas economic recovery plan? Well, they then built a two-mile tunnel into Israeli territory so they could kill and capture Jews.

And the fruits and vegetables that make up the liberal American main stream media want to know why the United States is not doing more to help the Palestinian Authority while the forces of anti-Semitism criticize Israel for over-reacting to innocent Jews being butchered, their homes being rocketed and its soldiers being taken hostage.

This is no longer about fruits and vegetables. This is nuts.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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