Why rebuild Gaza?

Rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion (£4.7 billion), the Palestinian Authority said on Thursday, in the most comprehensive assessment yet of damage from a seven-week war with Israel during which whole neighbourhoods and vital infrastructure were flattened.

It’s, essentially, a refugee camp. So why spend all that money on rebuilding it?

I understand the political desires of some: to keep the Palestinians locked up in such an area provides a useful excuse as to why Israel is the most evil place ever. But this all dates from many decades ago. Those Germans thrown out of the Sudetenland, about 50 of them turn up each year in Usti nad Labem (Aussig as was) to shout about the injustice of it all (and it was indeed an injustice) but the rest have dispersed and built new lives elsewhere. The Poles kicked out of what is now Western Ukraine, they’ve dispersed and built new lives (often in those parts of what was Eastern Germany that became Western Poland). These events weren’t directly contemporaneous, I agree, but they’re of a similar vintage.

Why keep 1.8 million people festering in a scrap of desert? Whack out an Arab nation passport of the Gazan’s choice to each and every one of them and have done with this pimple?

Yeah, yeah, I know, Zionist oppression and all that. But damnit, why in hell is this the one group of people who have lost a war that are still, 60 odd years later, being punished for that loss? Why in buggery isn’t it just a bad memory, just as those population movements post WWII are?

27 comments on “Why rebuild Gaza?

  1. I always wondered this, too. I could understand before ’67 — the Arab states were essentially promising the refugees their land back by force. Afterwards, it’s a bit of a mystery. I think once Jordan–the only state to offer any refugees citizenship–was bitten by Arafat, the other states realized what a mess they created. The Palestinians wanted a state, and were populous enough to threaten takeover many surrounding Arab states based on population size alone. So instead they were crushed, and the Arabs pointed them back to Israel.

  2. Most Palestinians with initiative have left: the rest are farmed by the UN, aid agencies and grievance mongers. If they were in some parallel universe be returned to till the soil, pluck the lemons and press the olives like their grandparents, greatgrandparents and greatgreatparents who packed up and left Israel there would be a collective WTF nervous breakdown moment by all concerned. Their desire for an idyllic agrarian existence being amply illustrated by their tearing down of the greenhouses kindly left behind by the Israelis when they withdrew from Gaza.

  3. Because most Arabs are either Muslims and hate the idea that in the middle east there is a non Muslim state so use them to attack Israel. Or nationalists and hate the idea there is a non Arab state etc.

  4. The Arab states hate Palestinians, with the obvious exception of Jordan which is basically Palestinian anyway, so their charity is a tad limited. Meanwhile, as per Ljh, there’s a lot of people with a vested interest in keeping them there. Much the same sort of people who would be horrified if a substantial proportion of welfare recipients got jobs, funnily enough 🙁

  5. Agreed – it’s a pretty grim piece of realpolitik, but it makes sense.

    Of course, the corollary to this is that, given that the Muslim Middle East is never going to accept Israel’s legitimacy, the same should really apply to Israel. It’s presence in the region will inevitably lead to ongoing bloodshed, and the U.S. should therefore tell Israel that they’ve had 70 years, it hasn’t worked, and it’s time to give every Israeli right of entry to western countries (the U.K. would be crazy not to take as many as it could) and get them all out. Again, not very pleasant, but if things carry on as they are a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv is only a matter of time.

  6. Nick: “…and the U.S. should therefore tell Israel that they’ve had 70 years, it hasn’t worked, and it’s time to give every Israeli right of entry to western countries (the U.K. would be crazy not to take as many as it could) and get them all out.”

    Because what the ME really needs is yet another basket-case country inhabited by Stone Age savages..?

  7. “The Palestinians will never miss an oppurtunity to miss an oppurtunity”

    Can’t remember who said this, but it strikes me as wisdom. The last big chance was ’92, when that senile old goat Arafat turned down the best offer the Israelis are ever likely to make. They got dealt shitty hand by history and proceeded to play it badly ever since.

    Can’t fathom why anyone wants to remain there – I’d like to think If I’d been born there I’d have legged it to somewhere less ghastly as soon as I could. Yes, yes I know, land of my fathers, etc. But the land of your fathers is an secetarian, overcrowded, arid dump.

    Strange the way left have taken up the Blood and Soil idea for unfortunate third worlders.

  8. Tim, Gaza isn’t a refugee camp. It’s just a normal bit of ground with some urban areas and some farmland. The so-called refugees are kept that way for political purposes. Even if a Palestinian state were created in West Bank and Gaza tomorrow, Abbas has said the refugees won’t get citizenship. That includes those in WB and Gaza. To do otherwise would weaken their right of return to Israel proper, the aim of which is to destroy Israel. Which is what it is all about for the Palestinians.

  9. ^^^
    Aye, that’s another thing I’ve never understood about this. If I’m getting this right, its not just the Palestinians who got booted out in 1948 (who would be either dead or ancient by now) but ALL their descendants who’d get the right to move into Israel, with the Right of Return?

    It is just ludicrous, and anyone who thinks this is in any way a realistic proposition is a deluded fantasist.

  10. The Arab states hate Palestinians, with the obvious exception of Jordan which is basically Palestinian anyway, so their charity is a tad limited.

    This.

    When I lived in the Middle East, I was rather surprised by the bottom part of the pecking order:

    1. Local Arabs
    2. Other Gulf Arabs
    3. Brits
    4. Other western expats inc. white Saffers
    5. Lebanese
    6. Russians
    7. Central Asians
    8. Brown/yellow people from elsewhere than 9.
    9. Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis
    10. Palestinians

    They are detested by Arabs, but a handy stick with which to beat the Israelis.

  11. Should’ve been like those other end of WW2 population swaps. How many Jews moved to Israel from the ME and North Africa in the 1940s-1960s? A couple of million? Many of them chased out and leaving behind property, capital and so on?

    The failure to assimilate the Palestinians in the rest of the Arab world is because they are pawns.

  12. Again, not very pleasant, but if things carry on as they are a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv is only a matter of time.

    Not quite: Israel needs only survive until the end of the oil age.

  13. Palestinians are the only people in the world for whom refugee status is heritable. And they have their own UN agency working on their behalf. Of the 800,000 or so that either left voluntarily or were driven out in 1948, there are maybe 30,000 left alive. These people could return and even receive a measure of compensation, but insisting that there are 7 million refugees with the right to return to Israel is simply another method of war.

  14. It is just ludicrous, and anyone who thinks this is in any way a realistic proposition is a deluded fantasist.

    And significantly, this is the *only* case in which this criteria has been applied. In every other case, it is only the original refugees and their children, no further. But as others have pointed out, the right of return is nothing to do with the well-being of the refugees, it is a tool to destroy Israel.

  15. BiG, there were roughly 1 million Jews kicked out of the ME and Africa between 1950-80. They mainly went to Israel or the US. Those who left North Africa often went to France but even the French Jews are beginning to bale from Europe.

  16. The ability to hand down to their children the refuge status surely must be one of the biggest barriers to a lasting peace settlement. The surrounding Arab countries are quite happy to keep Palestinians in camps promising sometime in the future Israel will be destroyed and they can move back.
    The Jews who were kicked out of Arab countries after the founding of Israel were intergated into Israel, the Palestinians have been left in refuge camps by the Arab nations.

  17. @Nick

    ‘Of course, the corollary to this is that, given that the Muslim Middle East is never going to accept Israel’s legitimacy, the same should really apply to Israel. It’s presence in the region will inevitably lead to ongoing bloodshed, and the U.S. should therefore tell Israel that they’ve had 70 years, it hasn’t worked, and it’s time to give every Israeli right of entry to western countries (the U.K. would be crazy not to take as many as it could) and get them all out. Again, not very pleasant, but if things carry on as they are a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv is only a matter of time.’

    The poor old Jews have been chased out of pretty much everywhere. Israel is essentially their last stand. I think ‘fuck off’ would be their response, followed by their pointing out that if the Palestinians/others behaved like adults and accepted their right to exist, and perform whatever weird religious rituals they have which are different to the weird religious rituals practised by the other side, then there would be no bloodshed.

    Importing them here I’d be fine with, but there’s a growing number of ‘Britons’ who would not.

    I don’t much fancy the UK becoming a proxy battleground (because some Muslims won’t rest until the Jews are all killed – otherwise, why kill Argentinean jews, smash up French shops, attack Jews in Stockholm etc?)

    So if we bring the Jews in we’re going to have to ask others to leave.

    If they ever nuke Tel Aviv. Mecca, Medina, Riyadh and a few other places are going to experience a sudden attack of artificial sunlight.

  18. Nuke Mecca first: should Allah fail to intervene then his followers should fall away and the problem of violent jihadism the world has faced for the last 1400 odd years will go away.

  19. Honestly, the West Bank Palestinians were much better off when Jordan had annexed the West Bank prior to 1967. This is because they were citizens of a proper country, rather than stuck in some ghastly eternal refugee situation. (Egypt never thought of giving citizenship to the Gaza Palestinians, though). King Hussein’s decision to join in with Syria and Egypt in the war of 1967, which led to the loss of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, has to go done as one of the dumber moves of the second half of the 20th century.

  20. Why would any sensible investor rebuild Gaza? You can be sure that in a couple of years Hamas will set up its rockets in school yards and hospitals and start it all over again.

  21. The problem is nobody wants the Palestinians, particularly other Arabs, as they always cause conflict, so much better they stay put and bother the Jews.

    They were thrown out of Jordan, then Lebanon and even Gaddafi couldn’t put up with them and turned them out.

  22. A war is won when the enemy has lost the will to prosecute it further. This usually occurs when some certain percentage of its military-aged males has been killed. The Gaza Arabs are not at that point, or anywhere near.

  23. Given what Czechoslovakia suffered during six years of German, much of it fully supported and actively participated in by Sudeten Germans, it is entirely understandable that Czechoslovakia would consider it prudent to remove from its borders a section of the population which had overwhelming demonstrated that its loyalty was to a foreign power. The actual manner of some of the expulsions may have been brutal and unjust (though again understandable), but kicking them out was a sensible and appropriate policy immediately in the wake of WWII. Western democracies are now discovering the problems of having sizeable population groups whose primary loyalty is elsewhere.

  24. There should be a the word “occupation” after German. Should really stop typing comments on my iPhone with my aging eyes.

  25. @Tim Newman,

    I’d agree with your hierarchy apart from (2) which I would move down below anybody white. My experience in the UAE of the locals’ opinions of Egyptians and other non-oil rich Arab states is to treat them as poorly as they treat Indians.

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