Lattes and Beach Barbecues in the “biggest prison camp” in the world

By Peter Hichens
Daily Mail UK
October 11, 2010

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently fawned on his Islamist hosts in Turkey by stating Gaza was a “prison camp.” This phrase is the official line of the well-funded Arab and Muslim lobby, who want to make sure Israel is seen by the world as a villainous oppressor.

But if you think Israel is the only problem, think again. Realize, for a start, that Israel no longer rules Gaza. Its settlements are ruins. No Israelis can be found inside its borders. And, before you say “but Israel controls the Gaza border,” look at a map. The strip’s southern frontier – almost as hard to cross as the Israeli boundary – is with Egypt. And Cairo is as anxious as Israel to seal in the Muslim militants of Hamas.

Gaza was bombed on the day I arrived in retaliation for a series of rocket strikes on Israel, made by Arab militants. Those militants knew this would happen, but they launched their rockets anyway. Many Gazans hate them for this. The Islamist rocket-firers are also the government here, supported by Iran and others who care more for an abstract cause than they do for real people.

I won’t give the name of the rather pleasant establishment where young women with bright make-up and colorful silken hijabs inhaled apple-scented smoke from their water-pipes. Their menfolk, nearby, watched football on huge, flat-screen televisions. Nor will I say where I saw the Gazan young gathering for beach barbecues beneath palm-leaf umbrellas. Of course this way of life isn’t typical. But it exists, and it shows the “prison camp” designation is a brain-dead over-simplification.

Can anyone think of a siege in human history where the shops of the besieged city have been full of Snickers bars and Chinese motorbikes, and where EU and other foreign aid projects pour streams of cash (often yours) into the pockets of thousands?

What about Gaza’s “refugee camps.” Most of those who live in them are not refugees, but the children and grandchildren of those who fled Israel in the war of 1948. All the other refugees from that era were long ago resettled. These places are not much different from the poorer urban districts of Cairo, about which nobody, in the Arab world or the West, has much to say.

One of the distressing things which I feel all of us should be aware of is the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. More than once I heard them say: “Life was better for us under Israeli rule.” One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: “We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.”

What is most infuriating is that many Christians in Britain are fed propaganda blaming this on the Israelis. Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favorite, some prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

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