In a day in the Middle East which has seen such bizarre happenings as Ahmadinejad’s cronies being arrested in Iran for sorcery (they are accused of invoking spiritual ‘djinns’ and having “special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds”), I was particularly struck by Argentinean-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim’s disingenuous and apparently uninformed comments made to the press after conducting a concert in Gaza last Tuesday. Long a critic of Israeli governments, he accepted honorary Palestinian citizenship three years ago.
Barenboim, who actually lives in Berlin, had just given a concert to “the people of Gaza” along with 26 other European musicians. He began his interview by disingenuously declaring “I’m not a political personality, so I wanted to see whether I could to Gaza and de-politicize all the discussion.” To which he flatulently added: “And I’m very happy that I succeeded.”
Then, without even taking a breath, Barenboim devolved into politics: “The people of Gaza deserve a gesture of solidarity for the conditions of life they have had for quite a long time now.” And how does Barenboim support his contention that Gazans are living in terrible conditions? “Unfinished buildings–because the cement which is required was not allowed [by Israel] to get through.”
Never mind, as I pointed out yesterday, that Israel allows over 1000 trucks of construction materials to enter from Israel every month, and never mind that thousands of tons of construction materials are smuggled into Gaza from Egypt every month, Barenboim would have us believe that Israel is responsible for destroying living conditions in Gaza as evidence by ‘unfinished buildings.’
Obviously, Barenboim has never traveled through Arab countries or even through Arab towns and cities in the West Bank. Most houses and office buildings are unfinished. The Arab method of building means that you always leave the upper floors of the building unfinished so that they made be added to at a later date (in the case of a family, if more children are born, or married children decide to live with the parents–in the case of a business, if the business expands). A ‘finished’ house or building in Arabic culture is a negative symbol that means ‘nothing is growing’.
Finally, Barenboim was amazed that Gazan civil society is thriving: “I was amazed, because I found a civil society which is very much awake and very well informed” and that there are 12 universities in Gaza.
The simple fact is that (as the International Red Cross in Gaza declared two weeks ago) there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza whatsoever.
israelstreet fact of the day:
Do you want to take a vacation to Gaza? You might be surprised to find any number of hotels that will be happy to accommodate you (in the midst of the supposed humanitarian crisis). Lonely Planet lists the ‘Rimal: Al Deira’ as the best. Here is its description:
“Without question the best hotel in town, Al-Deira is a swish, stylish and tightly run place. Constructed from a traditional Gazan red brick, its architect, Rashid Abdel Hamid, also designed the Arts & Crafts Village nearby. Meals from its terrific restaurant can be delivered to your room and prices include breakfast. The beds are comfy, the showers are hot, there’s a good sea view from its balconies, and each room has wireless internet connection.”