Friday, November 30, 2012

Mordechai Ben David Kumzitz

MBD - Ata Chonein - 1973

Speaking Lies to the UN Abbas' speech and the highlighted words indicate propaganda, lies and misreprentations

Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Palestine comes today to the United Nations General Assembly at a time when it is still tending to its wounds and still burying its beloved martyrs of children, women and men who have fallen victim to the latest Israeli aggression, still searching for remnants of life amid the ruins of homes destroyed by Israeli bombs on the Gaza Strip, wiping out entire families, their men, women and children murdered along with their dreams, their hopes, their future and their longing to live an ordinary life and to live in freedom and peace.
Palestine comes today to the General Assembly because it believes in peace and because its people, as proven in past days, are in desperate need of it.
Palestine comes today to this prestigious international forum, representative and protector of international legitimacy, reaffirming our conviction that the international community now stands before the last chance to save the two-State solution.
Palestine comes to you today at a defining moment regionally and internationally, in order to reaffirm its presence and to try to protect the possibilities and the foundations of a just peace that is deeply hoped for in our region.
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip has confirmed once again the urgent and pressing need to end the Israeli occupation and for our people to gain their freedom and independence. This aggression also confirms the Israeli Government’s adherence to the policy of occupation, brute force and war, which in turn obliges the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people and towards peace.
This is why we are here today.
I say with great pain and sorrow… there was certainly no one in the world that required that tens of Palestinian children lose their lives in order to reaffirm the above-mentioned facts. There was no need for thousands of deadly raids and tons of explosives for the world to be reminded that there is an occupation that must come to an end and that there are a people that must be liberated. And, there was no need for a new, devastating war in order for us to be aware of the absence of peace.
This is why we are here today.
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Palestinian people, who miraculously recovered from the ashes of Al-Nakba of 1948, which was intended to extinguish their being and to expel them in order to uproot and erase their presence, which was rooted in the depths of their land and depths of history. In those dark days, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were torn from their homes and displaced within and outside of their homeland, thrown from their beautiful, embracing, prosperous country to refugee camps in one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossessionin modern history. In those dark days, our people had looked to the United Nations as a beacon of hope and appealed for ending the injustice and for achieving justice and peace, the realization of our rights, and our people still believe in this and continue to wait.
This is why we are here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the course of our long national struggle, our people have always strived to ensure harmony and conformity between the goals and means of their struggle and international law and spirit of the era in accordance with prevailing realities and changes. And, our people always have strived not to lose their humanity, their highest, deeply-held moral values and their innovative abilities for survival, steadfastness, creativity and hope, despite the horrors that befell them and continue befall them today as a consequence of Al-Nakba and its horrors.
Despite the enormity and weight of this task, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the constant leader of their revolution and struggle, has consistently strived to achieve this harmony and conformity.
When the Palestine National Council decided in 1988 to pursue the Palestinian peace initiative and adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was based on resolution 181 (II) (29 November 1947), adopted by your august body, it was in fact undertaking, under the leadership of the late President Yasser Arafat, a historic, difficult and courageous decision that defined the requirements for a historic reconciliation that would turn the page on war, aggression and occupation.
This was not an easy matter. Yet, we had the courage and sense of high responsibility to make the right decision to protect the higher national interests of our people and to confirm our adherence to international legitimacy, and it was a decision which in that same year was welcomed, supported and blessed by this high body that is meeting today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have heard and you too have heard specifically over the past months the incessant flood of Israeli threats in response to our peaceful, political and diplomatic endeavor for Palestine to acquire non-member observer State in the United Nations. And, you have surely witnessed how some of these threats have been carried out in a barbaric and horrific manner just days ago in the Gaza Strip.
We have not heard one word from any Israeli official expressing any sincere concern to save the peace process. On the contrary, our people have witnessed, and continue to witness, an unprecedented intensification of military assaults, the blockade, settlement activities and ethnic cleansing, particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem, and mass arrests, attacks by settlers and other practices by which this Israeli occupation is becoming synonymous with an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism and entrenches hatred and incitement.
What permits the Israeli Government to blatantly continue with its aggressive policies and the perpetration of war crimes stems from its conviction that it is above the law and that it has immunity from accountability and consequences. This belief is bolstered by the failure by some to condemn and demand the cessation of its violations and crimes and by position that equate the victim and the executioner.
The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.
This is why we are here now.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a State established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the State that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine. We did not come here to add further complications to the peace process, which Israel’s policies have thrown into the intensive care unit; rather we came to launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace. Our endeavor is not aimed at terminating what remains of the negotiations process, which has lost its objective and credibility, but rather aimed at trying to breathe new life into the negotiations and at setting a solid foundation for it based on the terms of reference of the relevant international resolutions in order for the negotiations to succeed.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, I say: We will not give up, we will not tire, and our determination will not wane and we will continue to strive to achieve a just peace.
However, above all and after all, I affirm that our people will not relinquish their inalienable national rights, as defined by United Nations resolutions. And our people cling to the right to defend themselves against aggression and occupation and they will continue their popular, peaceful resistance and their epic steadfastness and will continue to build on their land. And, they will end the division and strengthen their national unity. We will accept no less than the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, to live in peace and security alongside the State of Israel, and a solution for the refugee issue on the basis of resolution 194 (III), as per the operative part of the Arab Peace Initiative.
Yet, we must repeat here once again our warning: the window of opportunity is narrowing and time is quickly running out. The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering. The innocent lives that have been taken by Israeli bombs – more than 168 martyrs, mostly children and women, including 12 members of one family, the Dalou family, in Gaza – are a painful reminder to the world that this racist, colonial occupation is making the two-State solution and the prospect for realizing peace a very difficult choice, if not impossible.
It is time for action and the moment to move forward.
This is why we are here today.
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentleman,
The world is being asked today to undertake a significant step in the process of rectifying the unprecedented historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people since Al-Nakba of 1948.
Every voice supporting our endeavor today is a most valuable voice of courage, and every State that grants support today to Palestine’s request for non-member observer State status is affirming its principled and moral support for freedom and the rights of peoples and international law and peace.
Your support for our endeavor today will send a promising message – to millions of Palestinians on the land of Palestine, in the refugee camps both in the homeland and the Diaspora, and to the prisoners struggling for freedom in Israel’s prisons – that justice is possible and that there is a reason to be hopeful and that the peoples of the world do not accept the continuation of the occupation.
This is why we are here today.
Your support for our endeavor today will give a reason for hope to a people besieged by a racist, colonial occupation. Your support will confirm to our people that they are not alone and their adherence to international law is never going to be a losing proposition.
In our endeavor today to acquire non-member State status for Palestine in the United Nations, we reaffirm that Palestine will always adhere to and respect the Charter and resolutions of the United Nations and international humanitarian law, uphold equality, guarantee civil liberties, uphold the rule of law, promote democracy and pluralism, and uphold and protect the rights of women.
As we promised our friends and our brothers and sisters, we will continue to consult with them upon the approval of your esteemed body our request to upgrade Palestine’s status. We will act responsibly and positively in our next steps, and we will to work to strengthen cooperation with the countries and peoples of the world for the sake of a just peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sixty-five years ago on this day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which partitioned the land of historic Palestine into two States and became the birth certificate for Israel.
Sixty-five years later and on the same day, which your esteemed body has designated as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the General Assembly stands before a moral duty, which it must not hesitate to undertake, and stands before a historic duty, which cannot endure further delay, and before a practical duty to salvage the chances for peace, which is urgent and cannot be postponed.
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The General Assembly is called upon today to issue a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine.
This is why in specific we are here today.
Thank you.

The chickens have come home to roost

Once again, my college classmate, Rabbi Pruzansky, is excellent.
It should not be overlooked that the foundation for this vote was laid by the Israelis many years ago. The Oslo Accords, whatever the technical language, was obviously designed to create a Palestinian state. That agreement was an explicit admission by the Jewish state that the Jewish people are not the exclusive sovereigns in the land of Israel, despite G-d’s eternal promises set forth in the Bible. Governments of the left and the right embraced that outcome in one form or another. Menachem Begin himself recognized (in 1978) the “legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” a phrase that stuck in his craw but that he accepted based on his lawyerly interpretation that the words “legitimate rights” could be interpreted to mean anything he wanted it to mean and not what the other signatories understood it to mean. So the chickens of Oslo, Lebanon, and Gush Katif have indeed come home to roost.
     And yet, whatever the psychological value (and most Arabs will assume that the vote means something that it does not, and fire their weapons in the air in celebration), the vote has no effect in the real world. Nothing changes here, today, anymore that Arafat’s declaration of statehood amounted to anything in 1988. A General Assembly vote has no legal status at all. Abba Eban said it eloquently: “If Algeria introduced a General Assembly resolution that the world is flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would find overwhelming support in the Arab world” and elsewhere. And he said it almost forty years ago. Nothing has changed there, either.
     Abbas still needs to be propped up by Israel. There is no Palestinian state. The PA and Hamas are still bitter rivals, and Abbas knows that his political career ends the moment the people are given the right to vote him out, whenever that is. The UN carnival, typically, just distracts the world from the real crises in the region – Iran’s nuclear bomb, Syria’s civil war and Egypt’s ongoing unrest. Anyone who still needs proof of the mendacity and hypocrisy rampant in the Arab world needs to consider only the howls of protest when 150 Arabs were killed and several hundred wounded in the clashes in Gaza – squeals that were intended to awaken the world to the horrors of a nation (Israel) exercising its right of self-defense – while the Arab world is dormant at the massacres in Syria of more than 35,000 people, and the turmoil in Egypt where already more than 500 people have been injured.
    It’s not the civilian deaths or injury that seem to disturb the Arab world and its malevolent allies across the world; it’s that the cursed Jews are doing it, and in defense of their right to exist.
    There are two obvious conclusions to this vote. One, that Oslo is officially dead, and this declaration vitiates its very premises of negotiations over final status issues, and, two, that the United States is now bound by law to cut its funding of the Palestinian Authority. But neither will happen and the blatant violations will be finessed, because neither the US nor Israel has any real interest in changing the dynamic of the struggle. That complicity is emblematic of the failures of Israeli politicians for decades that have seen Israel’s strategic position deteriorate slowly but inexorably.
    Nonetheless, in the beleaguered town of Sderot, barely two miles from Gaza and the recipient of thousands of missiles and rockets in the last ten years, one encounters today personal strength and courage, a desire to rebuild, lifelong residents who have no interest in moving to safer zones. Their resilience is an inspiration to all Jews, and their heroic story will yet be told. In the new communities built to house the Jewish refugees driven out of Gaza in 2005, one encounters the same determination, along with sadness about what was lost and the unshakeable (and usually unmentioned) feeling of “I told you so,” the unheeded warnings of what would befall Israel if they retreated under pressure from Gaza.
    All these brave souls have been betrayed by governments with convoluted miscalculations, wishful thinking and illusions disguised as policies, unkept promises repeated in every election cycle, or statecraft that is often illogical and self-destructive.
   The people of Israel deserve better; if only they would realize it and act upon it.
 Read the whole thing.

Ron Prosor's speech at the UN, plus Canada

Palestinian Arab TV refused to show Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor's excellent response to Mahmoud Abbas' hate-filled speech at the UN yesterday, so it makes sense to ensure that it is widely available:

Today I stand before you tall and proud because I represent the world’s one and only Jewish state. A state built in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland, with its eternal capital Jerusalem as its beating heart. 
We are a nation with deep roots in the past and bright hopes for the future. We are a nation that values idealism, but acts with pragmatism. Israel is a nation that never hesitates to defend itself, but will always extend its hand for peace.
Peace is a central value of Israeli society. The bible calls on us:
“seek peace and pursue it.”
Peace fills our art and poetry. It is taught in our schools. It has been the goal of the Israeli people and every Israeli leader since Israel was re-established 64 years ago.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence states, “We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help…”
This week was the 35th anniversary of President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem. In a speech just before that visit, President Sadat famously stood in the Egyptian parliament in Cairo and stated that he would go “to the ends of the earth” to make peace with Israel. Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Menachem Begin, welcomed President Sadat to Israel, and paved the way for peace. This morning Prime Minister Netanyahu stood at the Menachem Begin Center at said this about the resolution that you are about to vote on: ”Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected. The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish State and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.
None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through U.N. resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.
As for the rights of Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today, no decision by the U.N. can break the 4000 year old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”
Mr. President, The People of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow in the path of President Sadat. The world waits for President Abbas to speak the truth that peace can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. It waits for him to tell them that peace must also address Israel’s security needs and end the conflict once and for all.
For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions, rather than travel to Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach.
Mr. President, Israel has always extended its hand for peace and will always extend its hand for peace. When we faced an Arab leader who wanted peace, we made peace. That was the case with Egypt. That was the case with Jordan.
Time and again, we have sought peace with the Palestinians. Time and again, we have been met by rejection of our offers, denial of our rights, and terrorism targeting our citizens.
President Abbas described today’s proceedings as “historic”. But the only thing historic about his speech is how much it ignored history. The truth is that 65 years ago today, the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate into two states: a Jewish state, and an Arab state. Two states for two peoples.
Israel accepted this plan. The Palestinians and Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the “Jews into the sea”.
The truth is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was ruled by Jordan, and Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The Arab states did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. Instead they sought Israel’s destruction, and were joined by newly formed Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The truth is that at Camp David in 2000, and again at Annapolis in 2008, Israeli leaders made far-reaching offers for peace. Those offers were met by rejection, evasion, and even terrorism.
The truth is that to advance peace, in 2005 Israel dismantled entire communities and uprooted thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip. And rather than use this opportunity to build a peaceful future, the Palestinians turned Gaza into an Iranian terror base, from which thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli cities. As we were reminded just last week, the area has been turned into a launching pad for rockets into Israeli cities, a haven for global terrorists, and an ammunition dump for Iranian weapons.
Time after time, the Palestinian leadership refused to accept responsibility. They refused to make the tough decisions for peace.
Israel remains committed to peace, but we will not establish another Iranian terror base in the heart of our country.
We need a peace that will ensure a secure future for Israel. Three months ago, Israel’s Prime Minister stood in this very hall and extended his hand in peace to President Abbas. He reiterated that his goal was to create a solution of two-states for two-peoples—where a demilitarized Palestinian state will recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
That’s right. Two states for two peoples.
In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase “two states for two peoples” this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase “two states for two peoples”. Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65 years ago. Israel is the Jewish state.
In fact, today you asked the world to recognize a Palestinian state, but you still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.
Not only do you not recognize the Jewish state, you are also trying to erase Jewish history. This year, you even tried to erase the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. You said that Jews were trying to alter the historic character of Jerusalem. You said that we are trying to “Judaize Jerusalem”.
President Abbas, the truth is that Jerusalem had a Jewish character long before most cities in the world had any character! Three thousand years ago King David ruled from Jerusalem and Jews have lived in Jerusalem ever since.
President Abbas, instead of revising history, it is time that you started making history by making peace with Israel.
Mr. President,
This resolution will not advance peace.
This resolution will not change the situation on the ground. It will not change the fact that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza. That is forty percent of the territory he claims to represent! President Abbas, you can’t even visit nearly half the territory of the state you claim to represent.
That territory is controlled by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that rains missiles on Israel’s civilians. This is the same Hamas that fired more than 1,300 rockets into the heart of Israel’s major cities this month.
This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood.
This resolution will not enable the Palestinians Authority to join international treaties, organizations, or conferences as a state.
This resolution cannot serve as an acceptable terms of reference for peace negotiations with Israel. Because this resolution says nothing about Israel’s security needs. It does not call on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. It does not demand an end of conflict and a termination of all claims.
Let me tell you what this resolution does do.
This resolution violates a fundamental binding commitment. This is a commitment that many of the states here today were themselves witness to. It was a commitment that all outstanding issues in the peace process would only be resolved in direct negotiations.
This resolution sends a message that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to peace agreements. For the people of Israel, it raises a simple question: why continue to make painful sacrifices for peace, in exchange for pieces of paper that the other side will not honor?
It will make a negotiated peace settlement less likely, as Palestinians continue to harden their positions and place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace.
And unfortunately, it will raise expectations that cannot be met, which has always proven to be a recipe for conflict and instability.
There is only one route to Palestinian statehood. And that route does not run through this chamber in New York. That route runs through direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah that will lead to a secure and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No instant solutions. As President Obama, said in 2010, “Peace cannot be imposed from the outside.”
The real message of this resolution for the people of Israel is that the international community will turn a blind eye to violations of these agreements by the Palestinians.
Mr. President, In submitting this resolution, the Palestinian leadership is once again making the wrong choice.
65 years ago the Palestinians could have chosen to live side-by-side with the Jewish State of Israel. 65 years ago they could have chosen to accept the solution of two states for two peoples. They rejected it then, and they are rejecting it again today.
The international community should not encourage this rejection. It should not encourage the Palestinian leadership to drive forward recklessly with both feet pressing down on the gas, no hands on the wheel, and no eyes on the road.
Instead it should encourage the Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve an historic peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.
Mr. President, Winston Churchill said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it … ignorance may deride it … malice may distort it … but there it is.” The truth is that Israel wants peace, and the Palestinians are avoiding peace.
Those who are supporting the resolution today are not advancing peace. They are undermining peace.
The UN was founded to advance the cause of peace. Today the Palestinians are turning their back on peace. Don’t let history record that today the UN helped them along on their march of folly.

You might also want to see the speech from Canada's ambassador - and send notes of appreciation to the Canadian government. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Quick Breather

My beloved rabbi and spiritual Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a told me some amazing things today:
1. Despite all the reports of the imminent nuclear bombs in Iran's hands, the people of Israel have nothing to worry about. The Rav said, "Hashem, with one little grin, can wipe out their whole nuclear program." The Rav then said that Iran, Syria, Hizbulla and Hamas are meaningless to us, only sticks in Hashem's loving hands to prod us to do teshuva, for our own good. This is of course on condition that the Nation of Israel makes a serious effort to get closer to Hashem.
2. Hashem loves us more than we can ever imagine, but we don't believe that - that's our main blemish in emuna. Since our emuna is weak, we don't pray enough. Our prayers are not effective because we don't believe in the power of prayer, in Hashem's love, and in the fact that Hashem wants to give us everything.
3. When I told the Rav about the two particular GRAD missiles that landed in our neighborhood - one 200 meters from our apartment and the other about 350 meters from our apartment, both in parking lots of densely populated areas, he said that these are examples of Hashem's love - He's waking us up with a jolt, but doing so in a way that so few get hurt.
4. The Rav says that the current lull in hostilities here in Israel is Hashem's delay of the Geula: Hashem doesn't want to bring the Geula with dinim or stern judgments. Rather, Hashem wants to bring Geula with mercy, b'rachamim, and with joy. But, Hashem needs for more of us to do teshuva and strengthen our emuna to do so. No one knows how long this "quick breather" will last. Many speak about difficult timees ahead, but teshuva, emuna, and lots of prayer can mitigate all the difficult things.
5. The Jews abroad must make Aliya as soon as possible. The only justification for remaining outside of Israel is to spread emuna with total dedication.
What are we waiting for?

What Kind of Palestinian State? - Ron Prosor (Wall Street Journal Europe)

  • For more than a year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally seeking state recognition at the UN.
  • Exactly what kind of state will the UN General Assembly be voting for?
    • A state with no control over its territory. The PA has zero authority in Gaza today.
    • A terrorist state. States recognized by the UN must pledge to be "peace-loving." This month, Hamas showed its commitment to peace in Gaza by firing more than 1,200 rockets into Israeli cities.
    • An undemocratic state. Hamas has imposed brutal tyranny in Gaza. In the West Bank, President Abbas' mandate to rule expired three years ago. His government continues to jail and torture journalists, bloggers and activists.
    • A bankrupt state. PA institutions remain completely dependent on foreign aid. Yet this year, the PA tripled payments to convicted terrorists.
  • Israel is urging the Palestinian leadership to work with us to forge constructive solutions at the negotiating table. When the foundations for lasting peace are in place, Israel will be the first to welcome Palestinians to the UN.

    The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN.

Muslims uncover nefarious Jewish porn plot

Following are excerpts from a show featuring Egyptian cleric Abd Al-Fattah Abu Zayd, which aired on Tahrir TV on November 23, 2012.

Abu Zeid: Our enemies conspire against us. Conspire or you shall be conspired against. When our enemies used armed force against us, they failed ignominiously. They realized that the use of armed force against Muslims is futile, because Muslims have the element of confrontation, the element of resistance, the element of Jihad for the sake of Allah. They realized: Armed force would be futile against those Muslims, because they love death as much as we love life. So they replaced the armed force with soft power.

Do you know what "soft power" is? It is urges, sex, women and 4.2 million porn websites on the Internet. Just imagine – 4.2 million porn websites, the number one purpose of which is to corrupt the nation of Muhammad. Brothers, who finances those 4.2 million websites? This is just the number of websites. The number of internet porn pages is 420 million, the purpose of which is to corrupt the nation of Muhammad, to corrupt you. When the use of armed force failed them, they decided to use soft power, to invade the hearts and minds of the nation of Muhammad.

It was said in The Protocols of the abominable elders of Zion that alcohol and prostitutes would be capable of destroying Muslim youths more than a thousand cannons. They will drown them in urges and desires. That is their plan.
I have a feeling that this preacher is familiar with more than a few of the 4.2 million websites.

I'm still getting dozens of hits a day from people searching for "Arab six video" .Here are a few recent ones:

The plot is working!

CAMERA: Hamas' Smuggling Tunnels and What National Geographic Does Not Want You to Know

The most alarming development to  have emerged in the recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel was Hamas' use of long-range missiles smuggled from Iran to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It raises compelling questions about Hamas' increasing role as Iran's proxy, and how to stop the smuggling of weapons from Iran into Gaza.
These questions intensified when London's Sunday Times reported that around the time the cease fire was announced, Israeli intelligence satellites detected a cargo ship at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas loaded with rockets and other weapons components believed to be bound for Gaza.
The New York Times described the smuggling of long-range missiles from Iran to Gaza, citing Israeli security sources: Long-range Iranian Fajr-5 rockets are shipped from Iran to Sudan, driven through Egypt, taken apart and transported through tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, facilitated by Hamas employees and re-assembled locally with the help of Iranian technical experts.
Ibrahim Menai, a Palestinian who owns several smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, was interviewed by CNN, confirming that Grad missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and advanced shoulder-held anti-tank missiles are smuggled directly through these tunnels while Fajr-5 missiles– with a range of some75 km – are "most likely hidden among other merchandise that is loaded onto big trucks that go through the big tunnels" from Egypt.
So when National Geographic decided to include a feature in its December issue on "The Tunnels of Gaza," readers might have thought they would find a timely and revealing behind-the-scenes account of how weapons make their way from Iran into Gaza.
The article included nothing of the sort. It went to press just as  hostilities were intensifying, but although it was known at the time that Hamas was amassing weapons from Iran and that rocket attacks from Gaza had dramatically increased, the article made no mention of these facts. On the contrary, the article glorified the smuggling tunnels as "a lifeline of the underground economy" and a symbol of "ingenuity and the dream of mobility."
Indeed, the smuggling of weapons by Hamas received nothing more than two brief and superficial references – in an article of more than 4300 words focused on tunnels for smuggling – and those were made in the context of Israeli actions. The first reference was to Israeli demolitions of homes harboring tunnels "used for arms trafficking." The second was a brief allusion to Hamas smuggling weapons, inserted almost like an afterthought following a long list of basic items snuck into Gaza, allegedly because Israel had given Palestinians no alternative:
After Israel introduced the blockade, smuggling became Gaza's alternative. Through the tunnels under Rafah came everything from building materials and food to medicine and clothing, from fuel and computers to livestock and cars. Hamas smuggled in weapons. 
(Similarly, two photo captions referring to weapons also did so in the context of Israeli actions.)
While there was no exploration or discussion of weapons smuggling and how the tunnels are used for that, the article discussed at length Israel's "blockade" and military operations as causes for smuggling,and cited criticism of these actions without discussing their real purpose – to prevent rocket and mortar attacks against Israel's civilian population. The only mention of  Israel's reason for imposing an embargo and carrying out military strikes was buried in photo captions depicting the deleterious effects of Israeli actions on Palestinians.
Similarly, a reference in the article to "an attack" by Israeli naval commandos on "a Turkish flotilla off the Gaza coast" included nothing at all about the violent attacks by anti-Israel activists on board that precipitated the commando response, nor the reason why Israel does not allow the unfettered transfer goods into Gaza – again, to prevent the import of weapon components for assembling the rockets and mortars used against Israel.
A single mention of "rocket and mortar assaults on Israel by Gaza militants" under the auspices of Hamas came not as explanation for Israel's embargo or military operations, but as description of what the article labelled Palestinian "resistance" in Gaza. By opting for the term preferred by Palestinian terrorists to justify their actions, author James Verini made it clear that the National Geographic article was not a piece of objective journalism.
The same type of partisan framing was evident elsewhere in the article, as well. For example, a description of Israel's withdrawalfrom territory was manipulated to present Israel as "expansionist-minded":
This is partly why expansionist-minded Israelis have focused more intensely on the West Bank than on Gaza; the last Israeli settlement in Gaza was vacated in 2005.
The photos by Paolo Pellegrin also included captions indicting Israeli actions. For example:
With many farms devastated by war, and with other land lying unproductive in areas restricted by Israel, livestock comes in by tunnel from Egypt.
The beach once bustled with fishing boats and cafés, but the Israeli naval blockade, sewage, and lack of resources for rebuilding have taken their toll.
A caption about Israel's Operation Cast Lead, cast the reason for it as mere Israeli spin, with the insinuation that the real reason was more sinister:
Gazans fix a donkey cart for collecting mountains of rubble left in 2008-09 by Operation Cast Lead, a military campaign in Gaza launched by Israel, officially in response to ongoing rocket fire from the strip. [emphasis added]
The editors prefaced the online edition by explaining that the article went to press just as hostilities were escalating. But even in the editor's note, there was no acknowledgement of the smuggler's role as enablers of the escalation in hostilities. The only reference the editors made to "smuggling tunnels" was that Israel "extensively bombed the smuggling tunnels in Rafah."
That the editors chose to run a partisan article indicting Israel and glorifying Palestinian smugglers while ignoring the malignant role played by smugglers in Iran/Hamas' war against Israel is disturbing, as it indicates that accepted journalistic standards of accuracy and balance have no place at National Geographic.


Editor’s note: As this issue went to press, the conflict in Gaza escalated. Hamas and other groups stepped up rocket fire on Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces launched an air and sea assault on Gaza, targeting the Hamas leadership and sites containing rockets and other weapons, along with civil government and media offices. Israel also extensively bombed the smuggling tunnels in Rafah.
For as long as they worked in the smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip, Samir and his brother Yussef suspected they might one day die in them. When Yussef did die, on a cold night in 2011, his end came much as they’d imagined it might, under a crushing hail of earth.
It was about 9 p.m., and the brothers were on a night shift doing maintenance on the tunnel, which, like many of its kind—and there are hundreds stretching between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula—was lethally shoddy in its construction. Nearly a hundred feet below Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, Samir was working close to the entrance, while Yussef and two co-workers, Kareem and Khamis, were near the middle of the tunnel. They were trying to wedge a piece of plywood into the wall to shore it up when it began collapsing. Kareem pulled Khamis out of the way, as Yussef leaped in the other direction. For a moment the surge of soil and rocks stopped, and seeing that his friends were safe, Yussef yelled out to them, “Alhamdulillah!—Thank Allah!”
Then the tunnel gave way again, and Yussef disappeared.
Samir heard the crashing sounds over the radio system. He took off into the tunnel, running at first and then, as the opening got narrower and lower, crawling. He had to fight not to faint as the air became clouded with dust. It was nearly pitch black when he finally found Kareem and Khamis digging furiously with their hands. So Samir started digging. The tunnel began collapsing again. A concrete-block pillar slashed Kareem’s arm. “We didn’t know what to do. We felt helpless,” Samir told me.
After three hours of digging, they uncovered a blue tracksuit pant leg. “We tried to keep Samir from seeing Yussef, but he refused to turn away,” Khamis told me. Screaming and crying, Samir frantically tore the rocks off his brother. “I was moving but unconscious,” he said. Yussef’s chest was swollen, his head fractured and bruised. Blood streamed from his nose and mouth. They dragged him to the entrance shaft on the Gazan side, strapped his limp body into a harness, and workers at the surface pulled him up. There wasn’t room for Samir in the car that sped his brother to Rafah’s only hospital, so he raced behind on a bicycle. “I knew my brother was dead,” he said.
I was sitting with Samir, 26, in what passed for Yussef’s funeral parlor, an unfinished-concrete room on the ground floor of the apartment block in the Jabalia refugee camp where the brothers grew up. Outside, in a trash-strewn alley, was a canvas tent that shaded the many mourners who had come to pay their respects over the previous three days. The setting was a typical Gazan tableau: concrete-block walls pocked by gunfire and shrapnel from Israeli incursions and the bloodletting of local factions, children digging in the dirt with kitchen spoons, hand-cranked generators thrumming—yet another Gaza power outage—their diesel exhaust filling the air.
“I was so scared,” Samir said, referring to the day in 2008 when he joined Yussef to work in the tunnels. “I didn’t want to, but I had no choice.” Thin, dressed in sweatpants, a brown sweater, dark socks, and open-toe sandals, Samir was nervous and fidgety. Like the others in the room, he was chain-smoking. “You can die at any moment,” he said. Some of the tunnels Yussef and Samir worked in were properly maintained— well built, ventilated—but many more were not. Tunnel collapses are frequent, as are explosions, air strikes, and fires. “We call it tariq al shahada ao tariq al mawt,” Samir said—“a way to paradise or a way to death.”
Everybody, it seemed, had injuries or health problems. Yussef had developed a chronic respiratory illness. Khamis’s leg had been broken in a collapse. Their co-worker Suhail pulled up his shirt to show me an inches-long scar along his spine, a permanent reminder of the low ceilings. “In Rafah,” Samir said, “it felt like a bad omen was present all the time. We always expected something bad to happen.”
In the Gaza Strip today hero status is no longer reserved for the likes of Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin—the late leaders, respectively, of Fatah and the Islamic Resistance Movement, better known as Hamas—or for Palestinians who’ve died in the fighting that has rocked this wisp of land since its creation 63 years ago. Now tunnel victims like Yussef—28 when he died—are also honored.
“Everybody loved him,” Samir said. He was “so kindhearted.” On the walls of the makeshift funeral parlor hung posters with Koranic verses of sympathy sent by the family that ran the grade school where Yussef had studied, by the imam of his mosque, and by the local functionaries of Gaza’s bitter political rivals: Fatah, the former ruling party, and Hamas, the militant group that now governs the strip. The most prominent poster was from the local mukhtar, a traditional Arab leader. It showed Yussef in a photograph taken five months earlier, on his wedding day. He was wearing a white dress shirt and a pink tie. He had short-cropped hair and eager, gentle eyes. The poster read, “The sons of the mukhtar share condolences with the family in the martyrdom of the hero Yussef.”
The Rafah underground isn’t new—there have been smuggling tunnels here since 1982, when the city was split following the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, which left part of it in Gaza and part in Egypt. Back then the tunnel well shafts were dug in home basements. The Israeli military, knowing that the tunnels were used for arms trafficking, began demolishing homes that harbored tunnels, as did some Palestinians who wanted to keep the tunnel economy under their control. When that didn’t end the smuggling, Israel later expanded the demolitions, creating a buffer zone between the border and the city. According to Human Rights Watch, some 1,700 homes were destroyed from 2000 to 2004.
Gaza’s tunnels became imprinted on the Israeli public consciousness in 2006, when a group of Hamas-affiliated militants emerged in Israel near a border crossing and abducted Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Shalit became the embodiment of a ceaseless war, his face staring out from roadside billboards much like the faces on martyrdom posters that adorn the walls in Jabalia and the other camps. (He was finally released in a prisoner exchange in the fall of 2011.)
After Hamas won elections in 2006, it and Fatah fought a vicious civil war—which Hamas won the next year, taking control of the Gaza Strip—and Israel introduced an incrementally tightening economic blockade. It closed ports of entry and banned the importation of nearly everything that would have allowed Gazans to live above a subsistence level. Egypt cooperated.
Since Hosni Mubarak’s departure in early 2011, Egyptian officials have expressed remorse for cooperating with Israel. Egypt has reopened the small Rafah border crossing, though it still prevents some Gazans from coming through. Its new president, Mohamed Morsi, who wants to keep Hamas at a distance, has not pledged to help Gaza in a way that many Gazans had hoped he would. In August, after a group of 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed by gunmen in northern Sinai, Egypt temporarily shut down the Rafah crossing and demolished at least 35 tunnels.
After Israel introduced the blockade, smuggling became Gaza’s alternative. Through the tunnels under Rafah came everything from building materials and food to medicine and clothing, from fuel and computers to livestock and cars. Hamas smuggled in weapons. New tunnels were dug by the day—by the hour, it seemed—and new fortunes minted. Families sold their possessions to buy in. Some 15,000 people worked in and around the tunnels at their peak, and they provided ancillary work for tens of thousands more, from engineers and truck drivers to shopkeepers. Today Gaza’s underground economy accounts for two-thirds of consumer goods, and the tunnels are so common that Rafah features them in official brochures.
“We did not choose to use the tunnels,” a government engineer told me. “But it was too hard for us to stand still during the siege and expect war and poverty.” For many Gazans, the tunnels, lethal though they can be, symbolize better things: their native ingenuity, the memory and dream of mobility, and perhaps most significant for a population defined by dispossession, a sense of control over the land. The irony that control must be won by going beneath the land is not lost on Gazans.
The region of Gaza has been fought over—and burrowed under—since long before Israel assumed control of it from Egypt in 1967. In 1457 B.C. Pharaoh Thutmose III overran Gaza while quashing a Canaanite rebellion. He then held a banquet, which he enjoyed so much that he ordered chiseled into the Temple of Amun at Karnak: “Gaza was a flourishing and enchanting city.” Thutmose was followed by Hebrews, Philistines, Persians, Alexander the Great (whose siege of Gaza City required digging beneath its walls), Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Tatars, Mamluks, and Ottomans. Then came Napoleon, the British, Egyptians again, and Israelis, though to this day there is disagreement about whether Gaza would have been considered part of the land the Bible says God promised the Jews. This is partly why expansionist-minded Israelis have focused more intensely on the West Bank than on Gaza; the last Israeli settlement in Gaza was vacated in 2005.
But Gaza is the heart of Palestinian resistance. It’s been the launching area for a campaign, now in its third decade, of kidnappings, suicide bombings, and rocket and mortar assaults on Israel by Gazan militants—much of this sanctioned, if not expressly carried out, by Hamas.
The tunnels supply the government with all the materials used in public works projects, and Hamas taxes everything that comes through them, shutting down operators who don’t pay up. Tunnel revenue is estimated to provide Hamas with as much as $750 million a year. Hamas has also smuggled in cash from exiled leaders and patrons in Syria, Iran, and Qatar that helps keep it afloat.
Samir told me that Hamas leaders and local officials are in business with tunnel operators, protecting them from prosecution when workers like his brother die needlessly. He’s convinced that corruption and bribery are rampant. His friends agreed. “Damn the municipality!” Suhail blurted out as Samir spoke.
In 2010, after Israeli naval commandos attacked a Turkish flotilla off the Gaza coast, to international outrage, Israel said it had relaxed the blockade. But today there is still only one ill-equipped access point for goods, whereas the West Bank has many more. Israel makes it extremely difficult and expensive for the UN’s Relief and Works Agency and other aid agencies—the source of life and livelihood for thousands of the 1.6 million Gazans—to import basic materials for rebuilding projects, such as machinery, fuel, cement, and rebar.
According to a Gazan customs official I spoke with, the spring of 2011 saw imports at their lowest level since the blockade began. And what did get through, he said, was often degraded: used clothing and appliances, junk food, castoff produce. It was impossible “to meet basic needs,” the official said, insisting that the hesar, or siege, as Gazans call it, was crippling them. Even some of Israel’s oldest supporters agreed. British Prime Minister David Cameron lamented that under the blockade, Gaza had come to resemble a “prison camp.”
Photographer Paolo Pellegrin and I made many trips to Rafah’s tunnels. The drive from Gaza City, an hour to the north, afforded a dolorous tour. The aftermath of the civil war and of Israel’s most recent invasion of the strip—Operation Cast Lead in 2008–09—was evident everywhere. Stepping out of our hotel each morning, often after a night torn open by Israeli air strikes on reported militant hideouts, we took in the absurd sight of a five-story elevator shaft standing alone against the skyline, the hotel that had once surrounded it reduced to rubble. The Palestinian Authority’s former security headquarters cowered nearby, a yawning missile hole in its side. Bullet-chewed facades and minarets marked the horizon.
Driving south, we passed Arafat’s bombed-out former compound, littered with rusted vehicles, then proceeded along the coastline, once one of the prettiest on the eastern Mediterranean but now home to the skeletons of seaside cafés and to fetid tide pools. Heading inland, we passed abandoned Israeli settlements, their fields sanded over, their greenhouses lying in tatters. South of Rafah the ruins of the Gaza Airport languished as if in a Claude Lorrain landscape—used only by herders grazing their sheep and Bedouin their camels. Our interpreter, Ayman, told us that after the airport was built, he was so proud of it that he took his family there on weekends for picnics. “Look at the destruction,” he said, shaking his head. “Everything. Everything is ... destructed.” “Destructed” is a favorite malapropism of Ayman’s. It’s apt. “Destroyed” doesn’t quite capture the quality of ruination in Gaza. “Destructed,” with its ring of inordinate purpose, does.
As we arrived in Rafah, life teemed again. A byword for conflict, Gaza is also synonymous in Middle Eastern memory with that other staple of human history, commerce. Armies marching into the desert depended on its gushing wells and fortress walls, but to merchants through the millennia, Gaza was a maritime spur of the spice routes and agricultural trade. Travelers sought out its cheap tobacco and brothels, and even today Israeli chefs covet its strawberries and quail. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, Gaza and Israel enjoyed a symbiotic commercial relationship not unlike that of Mexico and the U.S. Gazan craftsmen and laborers crossed the border every morning to work in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while Israelis shopped in the tax-free bazaars of Gaza City, Khan Younis, and especially Rafah, which some old Gazans still call Souk al Bahrain: “the market of the two seas.” The first intifada, which lasted from 1987 to 1993, put an end to much of that.
Passing a jammed intersection overlooked by a Hamas billboard showing a masked militant wielding a bazooka, we entered the Rafah market. The din and fumes of generators commingled with the shouts of vendors, the braying of donkeys, and the sweet smoke of shawarma spits. Block after block of shops and stands sold consumer items, much of which had come through the tunnels.
It’s no secret that Gaza’s tunnel operators are brazen, the more so since the Arab Spring began. Just how brazen was not apparent until we emerged from the market, and an expanse of white tarpaulin tent roofs opened up before us. It stretched along the border wall in both directions, tent after tent as far as the eye could see. Beneath each was a tunnel. They were all in the so-called Philadelphi route, the patrol zone created by the Israeli military as part of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. All were in full view of Egyptian surveillance towers and sniper nests.
Unable to hide my astonishment, I exclaimed to no one in particular, “This must be the biggest smuggling operation on Earth.”
Every few hundred yards bored-looking cops barely out of adolescence sat outside tents and shacks, AK-47s on their knees. Hamas forbids journalists here, so we drove to the farthest end of the corridor and parked behind a dirt hill. Furtively, we walked into the first tent we saw. There we met Mahmoud, a man in his 50s who used to work on a farm in Israel. He lost his job when the border was closed during the second intifada, so he and a group of partners pooled their savings. In 2006 they started digging, and a year later they had a tunnel.
After nervous negotiations with Ayman, Mahmoud agreed to show me how it worked. “Come here,” he said, leading me to the well shaft. Suspended over it was a crossbar with a pulley, from which hung the harness for lifting and lowering goods and workers. The harness was attached to a spool of metal cable on a winch that could lower a worker the 60 or so feet down the shaft to the tunnel opening. Mahmoud’s tunnel was about 400 yards long, but some can extend half a mile. On this day boxes of clothing, mobile phones, sugar, and detergent were coming in; the day before it had been four tons of wheat. Mahmoud earned anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars a shipment, depending on what he brought in. Like many tunnel operators, he made enough to keep his tunnel open and support his family but not much more.
Five to 12 men work in 12-hour shifts, day and night, six days a week, and Mahmoud communicated with them via a two-way radio that had receivers throughout the tunnel. The men earned around $50 a shift but sometimes went weeks or months between payments. On the dirt floor beneath the tarpaulin were dusty cushions where they could rest after a shift. There was also a charred black kettle on the remnants of a wood fire, a strand of prayer beads, and stacks of halved plastic jerricans, the ad hoc sleds that are used to move goods along the tunnel floor.
“Would you like to go down?” Mahmoud asked. Before I could say no, I said yes. Moments later his men were enthusiastically strapping me into the harness and lowering me into the cool, dank well. I tried to imagine what it would be like if this were my daily routine, going to work by descending six stories into the earth at the end of a cable. At the bottom it was chaotic: dim lightbulbs flickering, radio traffic blaring, dust-covered workers hauling sacks out of the sleds. The mouth of the tunnel was large enough to accommodate several stooping men, but it soon became so narrow that I had to crouch, my shoulders scraping the walls.
When I got back to the surface, a group of police suddenly appeared. They had seen our car. “You shouldn’t be here,” their leader said. Ayman apologized, and soon the officer was regaling me with his account of uncovering a load of cocaine and hashish at a tunnel the day before. Smuggling drugs is lucrative but very risky. They arrested the operator, the officer said, and the well was filled in. He then ordered Paolo and me to go, saying we’d have to get permission from the central government in Gaza City if we intended to come back. “Don’t go into the tunnels,” another cop warned. “You’ll die.”
In the tunnels death comes from every direction. One operator told of the time he tried to smuggle in a lion for a Gaza zoo. The animal was improperly sedated, awoke in the tunnel mid-trip, and tore one of the workers apart. Another operator showed me a video on his mobile phone of three skinny young men lying dead on gurneys. They were his cousins, he said, and had worked in his tunnel. I asked why they had no contusions or broken limbs. “They were gassed,” was the reply. According to some Palestinians, when Egypt has been pressed by Israel to cut down on smuggling, its troops have occasionally poisoned the air in tunnels by pumping in gas. Egypt has denied this.
After days of wrangling with assorted offices, we returned to the tunnel corridor. Word had spread that an American reporter was snooping around, and even with our official escort, many operators shunned us. But some warmed up.
The most welcoming was Abu Jamil, a white-haired grandfather and the unofficial mukhtar of the Philadelphi corridor. Abu Jamil is credited with having opened the first full-time tunnel. It quickly attracted too much business to be serviced by a well, so he dug an enormous trench for loading and unloading goods. Abu Jamil had opened several more tunnels, and his sons, grandsons, nephews, and cousins worked for him. He claimed to no longer care about the profit. “For me it’s a way to challenge our circumstances,” he said, as a dump truck backed into the trench to pick up a load of Egyptian sandstone. Asked what else he’s brought in over the years, he smiled wearily. “Oh, everything.” By which he meant cows, cleaning supplies, soda, medicine, a cobra for the zoo.
At a tunnel nearby we saw a shipment of potato chips arrive; at another, mango juice; at another, coils of rebar; at another, the familiar blue canisters of cooking gas. We reached one tunnel as 300 dripping Styrofoam boxes filled with fish packed in ice were being unloaded. Taxis and cars sent by restaurants and wives had pulled up to take delivery. The partners who ran this tunnel were young, in their 30s. They specialized in lambs and calves, they said, but fish was cheaper, and since Gazan fishermen were kept within a tight nautical limit by the Israeli Navy, seafood was always in demand.
Just then a man entered the tent and whispered to one of the partners. He didn’t want sardines—he wanted to be smuggled into Egypt. This is common. Some Gazans go by tunnel to the Egyptian side of Rafah for medical treatment. Some use the tunnels to escape, others to have a good time for a night. I heard that there were even VIP tunnels for wealthy travelers, with air-conditioning and cell phone reception.
As the two men haggled, there was yelling outside the tent. I rushed out to find a tunnel worker about to punch Paolo. The man was screaming that he didn’t want his picture taken. Every time a journalist comes here, he shouted, a tunnel is bombed. How, he yelled, could he tell that we weren’t spies? I’d noticed that when Ayman tried to persuade tunnel operators to speak with me, the word “Mossad” was often uttered. They presumed that if Paolo and I weren’t with the CIA, we must be with the Israeli spy agency. The tunnel worker’s paranoia is understandable, given that Israel’s surveillance of Gaza is constant, as the ceaseless buzz of drones overhead attested. And in recent memory, Israeli commandos have entered the tunnel zone. A few, as the Israeli press has documented, died in bomb explosions—booby traps set by Palestinians.
Although unemployment is endemic—the rate in Gaza is more than 30 percent—the Gaza Strip is full of would-be entrepreneurs. On the shore north of Gaza City, next to bombed-out cafés, fish farms are being built. On the roofs of buildings pockmarked by machine-gun fire, hydroponic vegetable gardens are being planted, and in Rafah, just west of the tunnels, a sewage-processing plant is now running, its pond lined with concrete pylons taken from the border wall.
Yet for the majority of Gazans, the tunnels remain the lifeline. One day in Rafah I met a man who was digging a well with the help of his two sons, using a horse in place of a winch. I asked if he worried about his sons’ safety. He said yes, of course. But he had no other job prospects and couldn’t afford to keep his sons in school. Fixing me with a skeptical look that suggested all the distance in the world between us, he said curtly, “Insa.” One of Arabic’s beautifully expressive idioms, the word means essentially, “That’s life.”
Alongside the tunnel economy is another, born of destruction. The UN estimates that Operation Cast Lead created more than half a million tons of rubble, which has become a currency in its own right. It’s everywhere, and the rubble collectors are usually teams of children wielding mallets and hammers, breaking down the stuff, sifting it, loading it onto donkey carts, and bringing it to one of the many concrete-block factories that have sprung up. This is how Gazans, unable to legally import construction materials, are rebuilding. A government economist told me that rubble alone accounted for a 6 percent drop in unemployment in 2010.
Gazans are still hopeful that the Arab Spring might bring a change in their circumstances, though so far it has not. There is talk of opening the border with Egypt, but when that might happen, or indeed whether it will at all, is unclear.
The economy of destruction takes on permutations that might have pleased Thutmose III: One night Paolo and I attended a wedding celebration in a bomb crater. It also takes ugly turns: According to an interview in an International Crisis Group report, “a handful of rockets are launched by young militants hired by local merchants whose profits would decline if Israel’s closure were further relaxed.” This is hideous enough to be believable, but the militants I met were entrepreneurially minded in a more peaceful way. One afternoon I interviewed an Islamic Jihad fighter at a patrol ground near Bayt Hanun. Wearing head-to-toe camouflage and a headband advertising his willingness to die for Allah, an AK-47 in his hands, and a 9-mm pistol strapped to his chest, he admitted that most days he studies business administration at the university. “Jihad is not a job,” he said.
Back in Jabalia, I talked with Samir about his future. “There is no chance I can go back to the tunnels,” he said. I asked what he’d do instead, and he waved his hand to indicate the room we were sitting in. As it turned out, his brother Yussef had signed a contract to rent this space. When Yussef wasn’t working in the tunnels, Samir explained, he was learning to become a beekeeper. He’d planned to open a honey shop here. Samir wanted to take it over in Yussef’s stead. And when I last heard from Samir, in September, the shop was up and running. When Yussef died, his wife was three months pregnant with their first child. She miscarried shortly afterward. She is now married to Yussef’s youngest brother, Khaled, who manages the honey shop with Samir. They keep a picture of Yussef on the wall.