Ethan Bronner’s ‘benign occupation’

on 20 Comments

Prior to the First Intifada in December 1987 Israelis used to boast about their “benign” occupation—indeed, the “most benign occupation” in the world. Following the outbreak of the First Intifada, that mantra disappeared from the discourse. But, when things are looking bad on the PR front and you’ve got nothing else to pull out of your hat, I guess it’s time to bring it back. The “benign occupation” trope (again, without using those words) has been a key Netanyahu talking point in discussing the “economic miracle” of the West Bank. They lapped it up in Congress last month.

Presumably even Ethan Bronner doesn’t have the chutzpah to use those words, but the meaning of his front page article in today’s New York Times is clear. Here is the opening:

GAZA — Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. AHamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

As pro-Palestinian activists prepare to set sail aboard a flotilla aimed at maintaining an international spotlight on Gaza and pressure on Israel, this isolated Palestinian coastal enclave is experiencing its first real period of economic growth since the siege they are protesting began in 2007.

“Things are better than a year ago,” said Jamal El-Khoudary, chairman of the board of the Islamic University, who has led Gaza’s Popular Committee Against the Siege. “The siege on goods is now 60 to 70 percent over.”

The article’s title in the paper I received this morning was “A Construction Boom in Gaza’s Lingering Ruins.” It now appears online as “Building Boom in Gaza’s Ruins Belies Misery That Remains.” Either way, the takeaway is the same – what is freedeom or liberty or self-determination when you’re lucky enough to have Israel as your occupier/overlords?

20 Responses

  1. Gellian
    June 26, 2011, 2:16 pm

    Where are Gazans getting the money to stay in luxury hotels? Who is traveling to Gaza that would stay in one anyway?

    The whole thing is weird, even if it’s true.

  2. Miura
    June 26, 2011, 3:32 pm

    Claude Chabrol created a fine documentary based entirely on propaganda newsreels — available online in its entirety, albeit sans subtitles — which showed how life under German occupation was really not so bad, and it’s still an issue that can disturb the summer idyll for many in France.

  3. Les
    June 26, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Previous benign occupations posted the sign “”Arbeit macht frei” ( “work sets you free”) at their entrance gates.

  4. seafoid
    June 26, 2011, 3:59 pm

    What is GNP per head compared to 2000?
    Minus what ?

  5. Debonnaire
    June 26, 2011, 4:31 pm

    And the Warsaw ghetto residents were permitted to see classical music concerts. Auchswitz had a swimming pool and lollipops were readily available for the children. Those were the days.

  6. bijou
    June 26, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Clearly he is on board the propaganda effort to torpedo the flotilla. This is so transparent that it’s pathetically laughable. How can any self-respecting journalist be such a stooge?

    Not to mention that the notion of “construction boom” in Gaza is kafka-esque, given that Israel hadn’t allowed any cement in until about last week, as far as I know. Perhaps the concept of “boom” is all relative… Relative to what? When everything has been smashed to smithereens, then the construction of one home after 2.5 years could conceivably be marketed as a “boom.”

    • Sumud
      June 27, 2011, 4:28 am

      Perhaps the concept of “boom” is all relative… Relative to what? When everything has been smashed to smithereens, then the construction of one home after 2.5 years could conceivably be marketed as a “boom.”

      You’ve hit the nail on the head bijou. The only figures Israel will quote about conditions in Gaza (or the West Bank) are relative, not absolute.

      Recall the recent article on Mondo quoting a UN report that had Gaza’s unemployment rate at a staggering 45%, along with declining real wages.

      Now recall that during the Great Depression, at it’s worst unemployment in the US peaked at 25%. So man-made conditions in Gaza are now so bad that unemployment is almost double what it was in the deep dark 1930s in America.

      I really don’t think it’s appropriate to call Gaza a prison camp. It doesn’t accurately portray the human suffering Israel has created. It’s a concentration camp, run by Israeli jews in full view of the world.

      • Bumblebye
        June 27, 2011, 5:19 am

        I think comparisons with the Warsaw Gheto are perfectly valid, as without the presence of the UN, how strict would the Israeli prescribed “diet” be?

  7. annie
    June 26, 2011, 5:04 pm

    gag me w/a spoon

  8. eGuard
    June 26, 2011, 7:59 pm

    As noted earlier here at Modo: the NYT’s printed version had the headline “A Construction Boom in Gaza’s Lingering Ruins”. See: there is no problem, and again: it is their own fault.

  9. Richard Witty
    June 26, 2011, 9:16 pm

    The article was balanced, an elaboration on the theme of the resiliency and the potential of normalization with Gazan civilians.

    The article is very informative.

    • Chaos4700
      June 26, 2011, 10:17 pm

      You do know he’s living in a house in East Jerusalem that was stolen from a Palestinian family, right?

      • Sumud
        June 27, 2011, 4:15 am

        Of course he does Chaos. Recall Richard is a jewish supremacist so Bronner is just ‘redeeming the land’, and to remove him would be an act of “ethnic cleansing”….

    • Donald
      June 27, 2011, 8:50 am

      I thought the article was mixed in quality. The second half more or less showed that the first half was a rosy and highly misleading perspective. It was the second half that was balanced–Bronner argues that Gazans aren’t as bad off materially as sub-Saharan Africa and then cites people who point out that this isn’t the correct comparison to make.

      The article reads like someone who felt he had to put in all the hasbara points while also supplying the information needed to refute them. So we get material about hotels and then Bronner corrects the picture.

      As far as it informing you, Richard, that means nothing. We know you won’t pay the slightest attention to the parts that reflect badly on Israel and will go back to blaming Hamas for everything.

  10. radii
    June 26, 2011, 10:38 pm

    Hey Ethan,

    How about we force you out of your house so another family can live there – at gunpoint. Hideous locals and activists spit on you (and worse) on your way out. Your place is bulldozed to the ground. You are forced to live in a tent or under a tarp on the site to try to hold on to your legal right to your property, your home.

    You send the kids out for some building materials but they are shot along a high wall as they try to collect stones – they were clearly visible to the thugs who shot them as unarmed children. Your wife goes for medical care but must pass through a checkpoint set up by the same gunners in uniform who forced you out of your house … after nearly 2 days she is turned away and must come home.

    But activists on your side have now come to your former home where you now live under a tarp and because of their protests your wife is not allowed back into a “conflict zone” even though the protests have been non-violent. The uniformed gunners have shot tear-gas at the protesters, one died from being hit in the head with a cannister of tear-gas at close range, others were injured.

    The people who took over your home have cut down your olive trees that were at the back of your property and broken open a sewer line and allowed their sewage to foul the rest of your land so you will leave and never come back. They shout racial and cultural epithets and hurl things at you.

    The government which controls this land which was in your family’s possession for generations has sided with the family that took over your home and you have no recourse. The uniformed gunners keep the international media from covering what is happening to you. You would look out across the valley in front of your former home at the sunset – a view that used to make you so happy – but the “separation wall” the government erected now blocks your view 10 meters up.

    But do not despair, America is brokering a peace deal for you and others in your situation and after several decades they’re really making progress … the lobby group for the government which allowed the theft of your home gives the most money and has a vastly disproportionate representation within the American political scene and so America always (well 95% of the time) sides with the criminal state that ruined your life …

  11. mudder
    June 26, 2011, 10:55 pm

    As’ad AbuKhalil sardonically summarizes the NY Times article–
    “Great News from Gaza by Ethan Bronner: It is pretty much like Beverly Hills.”

  12. American
    June 27, 2011, 12:53 am

    If even 10% of this true…the question is…… WHO OWNS ALL THE NEW CONSTRUCTION?…..some Israelis Jews building on Palestine land?
    Do any Palestines own any interest in this ‘boom”?

  13. American
    June 27, 2011, 1:15 am

    Let’s look closer at the NYT’s sob’s bullshit.

    The economic miracle is not a miracle it’s courtesy of UNRWA.

    Chana Ya’ar
    Follow Israel news.

    Israel has given its approval for a building project in Gaza that involves the construction of 1,200 new homes and 18 new schools, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday.
    The project will be administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which sponsors some 200 schools across the Hamas terrorist-run region.
    Israel’s approval is effective immediately, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Guy Inbar. Building materials will be brought into the region and signed over to UNRWA as soon as the agency is ready to start, he said.
    Jerusalem-based UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told reporters in response to the announcement, “We welcome this reported approval, which follows lengthy negotiations with the Israeli authorities. We hope this will help meet the needs of refugees, particularly those in the south of the Gaza Strip.”

    After Israel did this:

    Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza | Reuters
    Jan 29, 2009 – GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Whole streets lie in ruins, many thousands of Palestinians are homeless after weeks of Israeli bombing and foreign …
    link to

    And there is no doubt in my mind that combinations of pressures on Israel made them lift the building material restrictions. So some people’s efforts are paying off. But I still want to see theses psycho little cowards and greed mongers heads held under the water till bubbles stop coming up.

    And I still want to know who will own the new Gaza Hotel. If anyone comes across info on that please post it.

  14. Chu
    June 27, 2011, 2:58 pm

    I saw this headline this weekend. Shameful that the NYTimes is so far behind. I think they are failing as a newspaper. There just not credible.
    If they deceive about the Mid-East, what else are they concealing.

    • Kris
      June 27, 2011, 4:31 pm

      The NYTimes is not credible on much of anything, except society gossip, fashion, and ritzy homes. It would be foolish to take the word of a NYT report for anything. As you’ll remember, their reporters published lies in order to help create support for the U.S. to attack Iraq.

      Ethan Bronner, so-called NYT “reporter,” is actually an Israeli propagandist. Bronner lives in a home that was stolen from a Palestinian family, and his son serves in the IDF. The NYT is about as “fair and balanced” as FOX news.

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