Try less in Gaza

The rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip stays out of sight and out of mind in the United States. Yet it (and much else) makes a mockery of the Palestinian state that American foreign policy seeks to engineer. And international aid cements the rule of the Islamist thugs who have seized power there. Barry Rubin shines a light on dark corners:

The Gaza Strip is doing really well economically and the Hamas regime seems set to go on forever. It’s raking in the aid money but every dollar and every project is shaped to ensure that Hamas remains in power, can return to violence in future and…wreck everything again.
“There are a slew of products here, and beautiful restaurants. Is this the Gaza we have been hearing about?” asked a Sudanese official arriving there, as quoted by the Palestinian news agency Maan. “Where is the siege? I don’t see it in Gaza. I wish Sudan’s residents could live under the conditions of the Gazan siege.”
So far there is not much building going on but just a lot of talk. The ground is being cleared for construction but building materials are lacking. The biggest single project right now is for water treatment under European guidance.
If Hamas were a normal government getting a rebuilding effort going would be great. By normal government I mean even a normal dictatorship. Such a regime would say:
We’re raising living standards, we’re increasing our popularity. Why should we be so foolish as to go to war against a stronger neighbor and see all of this destroyed again?
But, of course, Hamas is not a normal ruling group. It believes that the Creator of the Universe is on its side and wants it to fight. Hamas revels in martyrdom. It thinks total victory and the killing of all Israeli Jews is achievable. And it knows that the rest of the world won’t let it be fully defeated and thrown out of power no matter how many rockets, martyrs, and terrorist groups it sends into Israel.
As a dictatorial regime intending to control everything and stay in power forever, Hamas is locking the Gaza population into its patronage system, a sort of Islamist welfare state, so that people wouldn’t dare break with their rulers.
The main projected project: is building 25,000 new housing units in the northern Gaza Strip, just west of Beit Lahiya. Here’s how a business magazine explains it:
“The neighborhood…will be named after the residence of the 72 virgins waiting in paradise. The al-Buraq neighborhood, named after the horse Prophet Muhammad rode from Mecca to the al-Aqsa Mosque, will be built on the lands of Gush Katif. The Andalus neighborhood is aimed at reminding the Muslims of their days of glory in Spain.”
Let’s stop a minute and consider those names and what a reporter wouldn’t even notice here:
–72 virgins: To remind everyone growing up there that they, too, can get six dozen virgins if they become a martyr by blowing up Israeli civilians.
–The horse: To remind everyone that their goal in life is to devote themselves to warfare so they, too, can travel to the al-Aqsa mosque and conquer Jerusalem.
–Andalus: To remind everyone of the one-time (and future?) extent of the Muslim empire which even conquered Spain, and where they also intend to return.
This is a fascinating example of how economic development mixes with political power and indoctrination. Up in Lebanon, Hizballah is doing similar things. But there’s more, much more….

Rubin’s column is here. Please check it out.

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