Thursday, July 29, 2010

Those who have visited Gaza know it is far from a prison


by Stephanie Gutmann


Sure, I wouldn't want to live in the Gaza Strip. At a minimum, I wouldn't like to have thuggish guys in chequered burnooses telling me what parts of my body I can display, when I can laugh, and whether I can leave home with a man who's not my husband. But using the term "prison camp" while in the presence of the Turkish leader Tayyip Erodogan (who many consider an Islamist) was craven sucking up on the part of David Cameron yesterday. And after his relatively ballsy press conference last week with President Obama I'm disappointed in him.

How many prison camps have swanky restaurants? (Check out the website for The Roots here.) How many have malls offering brands like Lacoste and Adidas? How many are filled with outdoor cafes? True, women are no longer allowed to enjoy water pipes in those cafes along with the men, as part of Hamas's ongoing clampdown on women, but still.

In the last couple of months, after the Mavi Marmara crisis brought the area back into the news, a whole slew of major newspapers sent reporters down to the Strip to investigate claims that there is a humanitarian crisis. The Washington Post reporter's conclusion was that life is "dysfunctional" and sad for a number of reasons – but that "grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall" and "pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States".

Politicians really have got to find a new way to talk about the very real problems in the Gaza Strip, one that is accurate and nuanced.


Stephanie Gutmann is a journalist based in New York. She has written for dozens of publications including Playboy and the Wall Street Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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