Posted by: Lister | January 30, 2008

Not a Shopping Spree

Mark Steel again. I’ve blogged a few of his articles lately. I like the way his humour underlines serious points. I left out some of the jokes, though. So you might prefer to read the linked original.

Occasionally there’s a news story that can be presented as so jolly everyone must find it heartening […]

You might think the escape of hundreds of thousands of people from the siege in Gaza would come under this category. On the point of starvation, with almost no fuel, electricity or medical supplies, they’ve blown up the wall at the border and danced into Egypt, smiling and waving at the reporters. They’re such merry scenes you imagine reporters spluttering the way they did when the Americans marched into Baghdad, when they came out with stuff like “This old man behind me is so jubilant he has quite literally burst into flames with joy.”

[…] instead it’s been reported as just about acceptable, but not the sort of unruly behaviour to be approved of. Or it’s seen as frivolous, such as the report in The New York Times that reads: “Palestinians used a bulldozer to knock down a portion of the wall and continue a shopping spree.” A shopping spree? Do they think the leadership of Hamas said: “Oooh my goodness, have you seen the spring collection on display in the Sinai Desert branch of Debenhams? They’ve got the cutest little calf-length boots that were made with me in mind. If I don’t have them I’ll die – get the Semtex and the detonator.”

[…] Even yesterday, an aid convoy consisting of Israelis who’d brought five tons of food was refused entry into Gaza by the Israeli authorities. Maybe they’ll claim the rice created a “security risk”.

[…] This approach has been described by the Israelis as “collective punishment”. So Prime Minister Olmert said: “We must show the population it cannot shed itself of responsibility for the situation.” This could lead to an unexpected development, because that sounds similar to the crazed logic of the jihadist who blows up civilians on buses and Tubes.

[…] One woman was reported as saying: “Now I can visit my daughter who I haven’t seen for four years.” When the Berlin Wall came down, that sort of comment signalled universal rejoicing, but this meets with disapproval from Western governments, mostly because they’ve denounced Hamas as terrorists and refused to talk to them, even when they’ve won elections.

But maybe blowing up walls to save people’s lives is the sort of thing that makes Hamas popular.


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