Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whatever Happened to Those Gaza Greenhouses?

Before the Sharon government forcibly removed all Jewish settlements from Gaza, the Jewish farmers of Gaza had made it a center of greenhouse and hydroponic farming. They produced millions of dollars worth of beautiful, insect-free vegetables that were exported to Europe. The greenhouse industry employed 4000 people, including thousands of Arab workers.

Just before the expulsion of those farmers, a group of Jewish philanthropists, led by James Wolfensohn, purchased the greenhouses for $14 million, and gave them to the Palestinian Authority, as related here. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending to this story. Despite thousands of men under arms, the Palestinian Authority did not protect the greenhouses from Palestinian looters, who stripped them of the water pumps, irrigation hoses and plastic sheeting. Before and after photos can be viewed here.

But even that sad outcome is not the end of the story. The Palestinians are still using the greenhouses--just not to grow vegetables. Instead, the now barren greenhouses are used to hide the entrances of arms-smuggling tunnels, as shown in the lower photograph above left, which was taken during a recent Israeli Defense Forces incursion into Gaza.

This incident throws into sharp contrast the the Jewish national movement (Zionism) and the Palestinian national movement. One is essentially constructive, having developed a modern, prosperous democratic nation in the less than 60 years of existence of the Third Jewish Commonwealth. Its most characteristic activity is the transformation of barren land into fertile fields and gardens. The other movement is essentially destructive--its primary objective is not a Palestinian State, but rather the destruction of the Jewish State. And perhaps for that reason, the Palestinian national movement never creates, never improves the lot of its people, but only destroys and leaves barren what was fruitful and green.


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