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Ethan Bronner’s ‘benign occupation’

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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?

Ilene Cohen

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