June 21, 2006

Paying Down a Crisis in Gaza

Paying Down a Crisis in Gaza

We are on the verge of a man-made famine in Gaza.

Will, Iron Sheik, in an email to Open Source, 6/20/06.

Ever since a Palestinian majority voted Hamas into parliament, western aid money has dried up. Four months later, the situation is getting desperate. Money is working its way in slowly, stuffed in suitcases and funneled through back channels. The EU has been pitching a $125 million aid plan that would sidestep Hamas entirely. But is aid the answer?

We’ve been emailing back and forth with Palestinian bloggers.

The situation is actually very dire; I know of many families that resorted to selling their women’s jewelry to bring home the bread. For a while, many storeowners lent people groceries on their credit line, but there seems to be no end in sight, while on the other hand, stores have mostly run out of supplies, and the boycott prevents food and medical supplies going in….

The solution is not handing out stipends, nor is it to find a mechanism to bypass Hamas. Hamas won the election on a platform of reform and fighting corruption. I, and most Palestinians, trust that money through Hamas is far more likely to be delivered to its rightful destination than through Abbass’ crew or the former Palestinian government…

The boycott imposed on the Palestinian people by the US, Israel, and EU, is not to merely prevent money from flowing “into the wrong hands,??? rather, it is meant to place a stranglehold on the people, so that when they are starved and desperate they would do away with the government the elected. It is a collective punishment for the democratic decision.

Fayyad Sbaihat, Kabobfest, in an email to Open Source, 6/20/06.

Personally, I only want western aid to be there for humanitarian purposes. At the same time, depending on aid extends dependence on the same western countries that let the root of the problem — Israel’s policies — continue. Politics, as usual, only has a screwy outcome. The US dishes aid to the Palestinians to soften the blow of an Israeli occupation it also helps fund….

I can imagine the situation where aid and political machinations lead to the exclusion of Hamas (which has the legislative branch and much of the cabinet), but the propping up of the President as a strong puppet-dictator who buys loyalty with aid. In other words, aid games and aid itself can only lead to undemocratic outcomes.

Will, Iron Sheik, in an email to Open Source, 6/20/06.

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