Let’s first go to this New York Times piece, published less than a week ago:
GAZA CITY — The women were bleary-eyed, their voices weak, their hands red and calloused. How could they be expected to cook and clean without water or electricity? What could they do in homes that were dark and hot all day? How could they cope with husbands who had not worked for years and children who were angry and aimless?
Sitting with eight other women at a stress clinic, Jamalat Wadi, 28, tried to listen to the mental health worker. But she could not contain herself. She has eight children, and her unemployed husband spends his days on sedatives.
“Our husbands don’t work, my kids are not in school, I get nervous, I yell at them, I cry, I fight with my husband,” she blurted. “My husband starts fighting with us and then he cries: ‘What am I going to do? What can I do?’ ”
The others knew exactly what she meant.
The Palestinians of Gaza, most of them descended from refugees of the 1948 war that created Israel, have lived through decades of conflict and confrontation. Their scars have accumulated like layers of sedimentary rock, each marking a different crisis — homelessness, occupation, war, dependency.
Today, however, two developments have conspired to turn a difficult life into a new torment: a three-year blockade by Israel and Egypt that has locked them in the small enclave and crushed what there was of a formal local economy; and the bitter rivalry between Palestinian factions, which has undermined identity and purpose, divided families and caused a severe shortage of electricity in the middle of summer.
Sounds bleak, despairing, hopeless… and them damned evil Jews are to blame… or so goes the meme.
But then there’s this, published just yesterday… let me know if you’re still seeing bleakness, despair, hopelessness:
While Hamas continues to complain that Gaza lacks building materials, a luxury mall in Gaza City held its grand opening over the weekend. Among the goods on sale are Israeli men’s clothing, and items from Turkey, France, and the United States.
Photojournalist Tom Gross, who publicized photos from Saturday’s event on his website, noted that the opening coincided with a visit to Gaza from European Union foreign policy director Catherine Ashton. “The BBC and other media have featured extensive reports all day long on what they term the dire economic situation in Gaza; why are they not mentioning the new shopping mall that opened there yesterday?” Gross asked.
Pictures of the new mall were featured on the Palestinian Authority Safa website and by the Associated Press.
A variety of stores sell cosmetics, clothing, office supplies, toys, shoes, appliances and more. The mall boasts air conditioning and a delivery service.
Hamas has often accused Israel of creating a “siege” by keeping its border crossings to Gaza closed. According to Hamas, Gaza lacks electricity and building supplies.
Gross, who has previously posted pictures of fancy restaurants, shops filled with goods, and even an Olympic-size swimming pool during the “Israeli siege,” pointed out that Gaza enjoys a higher standard of living than Turkey, which recently sent citizens on a flotilla to Gaza in violation of an Israeli naval blockade of Hamas.
The pictures tell a tale not normally seen in news coming out of Gaza. Go now and take a peek.
Then perhaps let the folks at the New York Times know. I’m sure they’ll publish a related piece post haste.