A story in today’s New York Times (June 26) gives the impression that conditions are on the rebound in Gaza. It’s been the Rabbit’s impression that over the years the media hasn’t done a good job reporting the abhorrent living conditions in the Palestinian territories, as if it’s something everyone already knows. But it’s anxious to trumpet positive developments. Being someone who’s found the truth in comics , and to a lesser extent, personal accounts from those who’ve been there, we won’t be convinced until we see conditions illustrated. Anyway, the story seems to give a mixed account.
From the Times piece by Ethan Bronner, “‘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.’ Ala al-Rafati, the economy minister for Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, said in an interview that nearly 1,000 factories are operating here, and he estimated unemployment at no more than 25 percent after a sharp drop in jobless levels in the first quarter of this year. ‘Yesterday alone, the Gaza municipality launched 12 projects for paving roads, digging wells and making gardens,’ he said. ”
And in the next paragraph: “Thousands of homes that were destroyed in the Israeli antirocket invasion two and a half years ago have not been rebuilt. Hospitals have canceled elective surgery for lack of supplies. Electricity remains maddeningly irregular. The much-publicized opening of the Egyptian border has fizzled, so people remain trapped here. The number of residents living on less than $1.60 a day has tripled in four years. Three-quarters of the population rely on food aid.”
So what’s the real story? I’m going to wait until my favorite cartoonist-journalist Joe Sacco gives us some perspective. Word is that the author of Palestine and Footnotes In Gaza is taking a break from globe-trotting material gathering. Say it ain’t so, Joe. When it comes to conditions in Gaza and the West Bank we don’t know who to believe. But we believe you, Joe.-Cabbage Rabbit