by Jonathan S. Tobin
In recent weeks, the New York Times has been working hard to paint those bent on using violence against Israel in the most attractive light as possible. It memorably used the cover story of its Sunday magazine on March 18 to allow a dedicated opponent of Zionism to falsely portray the architects of the next intifada as civil rights advocates. That polemic eclipses their most recent attempt to humanize terrorists, in terms of the story’s political intent. But today’s feature on the latest pastry craze in Gaza is in its own way just as outrageous.
The piece, slugged under the category of “Gaza Journal” with the headline “Ex-Prisoners Bring Taste of West Bank to Gaza,” concerns the activities of two Palestinians who were released from Israeli jails as part of the ransom deal in which kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit was freed. The pair opened a beachfront shop in which they sell a particular dessert that is associated with the West Bank city of Nablus, from which they have been exiled. The Times portrays the two as a couple of Horatio Alger-style strivers who are not only working hard but whose efforts illustrate the fact that Gazans no longer have easy access to the cuisine of Nablus because of Israeli restrictions. But anyone seeking to use this as either an illustration of Israeli perfidy or the pluck of the Palestinians needs to sift through most of the Times pastry puffery to the bottom of the piece to see why Nadu Abu Turki and Hamouda Sala were the guests of the Israeli prison service until their Hamas overlords sprung them: they were both convicted of planting bombs and conspiring to commit murder as members of Hamas terror cells.
The conceit of the piece is to show how plucky Palestinians have adapted to onerous Israeli measures that have prevented people in Gaza from consuming nabulsia, a variant of the kenafeh dessert popular in Nablus. This is a special hardship for those West Bankers whose terrorist activities have led to actions that stranded them in Gaza. So for the apparently not inconsiderable number of homesick bomb builders and snipers stuck in the strip, the two ex-prisoners’ bakery is a godsend.
Were the point of the article to show us how these terrorists have changed their ways and traded murder for pastry, it might have been a tale of redemption. But there is nothing of the sort in the piece. Instead, we are left with the impression that the two dessert-makers are merely biding their time selling nabulsia simply because their main occupation—trying to kill Jews—has been taken away from them by being deposited in Gaza.
As the Times notes toward the bottom of the piece:
For Mr. Abu Turki and Mr. Salah, the kenafeh business represents a kind of re-entry into normal society.But nowhere in the piece is there any sign of remorse about their murderous activities or a decision to try something else. The only line in the piece that alludes to their current politics is the comment of one that Gaza is “an open air prison.”
Mr. Abu Turki was convicted by Israel and sentenced to 15 years for conspiracy to murder, stone-throwing, planting a bomb and membership in an illegal organization — the military wing of Hamas — according to an Israel Prison Service list of those released under the Shalit deal.
Mr. Salah, another Hamas member, was sentenced to 22 years for conspiracy to murder, planting a bomb and shooting at people. They were among about 160 released prisoners to be exiled to Gaza.
But if those living there resent the fact that they no longer have free access to jobs in Israel or travel to the West Bank, they can thank Abu Turki, Salah and their Hamas overlords for that. The border is closed except for humanitarian cases that receive medical care in Israeli hospitals specifically because Hamas has waged war on the Jewish state, launching terror attacks intended to kidnap, kill and maim people. Also unmentioned in the article is the fact that the Islamist tyranny there has continued to use the strip as a launching pad for rocket fire at Israeli towns and villages.
Peace will be possible when Palestinians give up their dream of destroying Israel—a goal that is integral to Hamas ideology—and concentrate on more productive activities. But so long as Hamas rules Gaza—and seeks to extend their hold to the West Bank—that won’t be possible. Hope will come the day we read stories like this in the Times in which ex-terrorists renounce their past rather than merely grouse about its consequences. The taste of nabulsia can’t wipe away Hamas’s record of terror or the consciences of two bakers with blood on their hands.
Jonathan S. Tobin
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