Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Chicken Occupation

Today's International Herald Tribune's front-page carries a story – "The fast-food underground: Gaza finds a way to get its KFC" – colorfully recounting the activities of an entrepreneur who smuggles (though that's hardly the right word) fast-food orders from a border town in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.

[QUOTE]  It’s our right to enjoy that taste the other people all over the world enjoy,” said the entrepreneur, Khalil Efrangi, 31, who started Yamama a few years ago with a fleet of motorbikes ferrying food from Gaza restaurants, the first such delivery service here.

Let's deconstruct this story:

[QUOTE] Passage into Egypt through the Rafah crossing is limited to about 800 people a day, with men 16 to 40 years old requiring special clearance. Traveling through the Erez crossing into Israel requires a permit and is generally allowed only for medical patients, businessmen and employees of international organizations.

So, two Arab entities – Egypt and Hamas-Gaza restrict cross-border movement to 800 people a day. We're never told why.

But the IHT (the global edition of The New York Times) piece is written in a passive (aggressive) manner so you wouldn't know just who placed those restrictions.

And just to muddy the waters, we're told that Israel requires a permit for the Erez crossing into Israel.
It's true, but irrelevant.

Hamas is at war with Israel so it really isn't surprising that "permits" are needed – and granted – only for medical emergencies and other humanitarian needs. Not to order chicken.

Still, it is technically true that Hamas-stan citizens can't order fast-food from the Zionist enemy.
It would be weird if they could – if you give the idea a little thought.

But why can't they order fast-food from their Egyptian brothers?

In other words, why can't they order fast-food from a country run by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – a fraternal Big Brother -- and spawn --- to Hamas itself?

Strangely, the Times' editors frame the article to place the burden of moral responsibility for the Chicken Occupation on Israel.

[QUOTE] Palestinians generally refer to Gaza as being under siege or blockade by Israel, and isolation from the world is among the most common complaints of people here. That can create an intense longing for what those outside Gaza see as mundane, or ordinary.

But that don't make it true, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen.

[Quote] Breaking the blockade, then and now, is seen as part of resisting the Israeli enemy, giving a sense of empowerment and control to people here, even if it comes in the form of fried chicken.

When countries are at war they tend not to engage in commerce.

Here, if you want a reality check is the truth about what Israel does allow across its border to enemy Gaza.

So the IHT/NYT gives us a cutesy (in a tendentious way) story. But it is also agitprop – anti-Zionist propaganda.

It is a subtle manipulation of reality in which the oblivious reader (meaning most people who will skim the piece on the Internet as they scroll their way through today) is given to assume Israel controls the Gaza-Egypt border -- when in fact Hamas and Egypt control it.

The Arabs can build a 12-lane highway from Gaza to Egypt to transport all the fried chicken in the world if they want to and no one will stop them.

Yet holding on to the imagery of "the siege" helps keep Gaza's population mobilized and hateful against Israel. So that's the Arabs' motivation.

But what's the motivation of the Times' editors?

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