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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
(415) 356-7801

June 12, 2009

Will the Palestinians squander the chance of statehood the way they destroyed their economic windfall in Gaza?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

President Obama, like so many U.S. presidents before him, is convinced he can create peace between Israel and the Palestinians, paving the way for the Palestinians to create their own state.

Unfortunately and ill-advisedly, Obama's plan looks like it will pressure Israel to abandon land Israel won in its 1967 war with surrounding Arab states (a war not fought against the Palestinians, who have never held any of Palestine).  The land Obama would have Israel relinquish is primarily on Israel's eastern border, including parts of East Jerusalem.

The question Obama fails to address realistically is whether the Palestinians are psychologically capable of making peace with the Jews they have hated venomously for so many decades and whether they are, despite all evidence to the contrary, culturally equipped to build a state.

As you of course know, under much pressure from "world opinion," Israel decided in 2006 to evacuate Gaza and to extricate scores of families who had been living there for generations.

These Israelis had built, among other accomplishments, some of the most advanced and sophisticated greenhouse installations, from which they exported yearly millions of dollars of fruits and flowers all over the world, mostly to Europe.

As you also know, the Gazans did not react with gratitude---or even civility---to this "liberation" of the land they had claimed for so long. Rather, almost from the first day, these Palestinians began to bombard nearby Israeli towns with thousands of rockets, which made life almost unbearable in the areas to which these rockets were directed.

But the Palestinians did not just attack their perceived enemy.  They squandered an opportunity to create desperately needed economic wealth from the infrastructure Israel left behind in Gaza.

Please read the story that follows, by Jewish Observer columnist Si Frumkin, about what happened to the multi-million dollar greenhouse installations left behind by Israel in Gaza.  (Mr. Frumkin is a Holocaust concentration camp survivor who was born in Lithuania.)

This tale, though originally chronicled by Frumkin in 2005, is still instructive today as to the mindset of the Palestinians---indeed nothing has changed, and certainly not within the terrorist Hamas organization, the current Palestinian ruling party.  I think you'll also find the parable at the end of the story to be quite apropos.


Gerardo Joffe, President FLAME


If you agree that Israel should not be pressured to make peace with Jew-hating Arabs who freely admit they want nothing more than to obliterate the Jewish state---and who have demonstrated this consistently for the last seven decades---please review the latest FLAME position paper---"A Demilitarized Palestinian State (II): Should Israel, should the world rely on it?" This powerful piece outlines the incredibly high risk Israel faces in allowing even a nominally demilitarized Islamic terrorist state in the West Bank and Gaza. This editorial is currently running in national media and reaches five million Americans, including college students and all U.S. Senators and Representatives, every month it runs.  Please visit the FLAME Hotline for a wealth of information and current articles about the Middle East, which can support you in your Israel advocacy work.  A few weeks ago, week we posted the superb "Even The New York Times" by Marty Peretz in The New Republic, which exposes the insidious word games Mahmoud Abbas is playing to convince Obama and the non-Arab world that he wants peace. Please check it out.  Above all, if you agree that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's ability to influence public opinion---to stand up against anti-Zionism, as well as Islamist terror---comes from Israel's supporters like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

Schadenfreude: An Interesting German Word that Fits the Writer's Feelings for the Palestinians (and Some Well-Meaning Jews)
by Si Frumkin, (Los Angeles) Jewish Observer, October 3-5, 2005

I am not a great fan of German achievement. I believe that a Lexus or a Cadillac is better than a BMW or Mercedes.

But I do acknowledge that Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have. Schadenfreude [schah-den-froy-day] is such a word.

In case you are not familiar with it, it takes seven English words to define it: "malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others."  The dictionary also explains it with a quote from The New York Times about historian Peter Gay—who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics; he said that it "can be one of the great joys of life."

All this is a prelude to inform you that I felt—and greatly enjoyed Schadenfreude recently.

A friend had recently come back from a trip to Russia.

He told us that he saw beautiful flowers at an expensive flower shop in Moscow and asked where these out-of-season flowers had come from. "Holland," he was told. "Most of our flowers come from Holland, but the Dutch buy a lot of them from Israel and resell them throughout Europe. We are lucky to get them. They are so beautiful."

Another friend spent a week in the French countryside where he enjoyed a wonderful tasty fruit, apparently some kind of a cross of a peach and a plum. He asked what it was and was told that it was imported from Israel, the only place where it was cultivated.

I am sure that at least some of the flowers, fruit and vegetables that cater to European sophisticates came from the more than 3000 Gaza greenhouses. They were all built on barren empty land by the Jews who, until a few years ago, employed over 12,000 Palestinians there. Since the start of the last Intifada and several terror attacks by the more demented employees, the number of Arabs working the greenhouses was drastically reduced, and they were replaced by Thais, Africans and Filipinos.

During the months of preparation for the Israeli withdrawal, there were many questions on what should be done with the green-houses. They were state-of-art agricultural marvels with their own sophisticated temperature and humidity control systems. They turned out millions of dollars worth of produce yearly and they were a source of employment for thousands of people in an area, where close to 40% were unemployed.

Should these marvelous structures be destroyed or moved or just abandoned? Then a wonderful and heartwarming solution was found. A small group of wealthy American Jews decided to buy the greenhouses from Israel and donate them to the Palestinian Authority. One of the donors was former World Bank president James Wolfensohn who put up $500,000 of his own money. All in all, $14 million was collected, the deal was done and an appreciative Palestinian spokesmen announced that the greenhouses would become the cornerstone of the future Palestinian economy.

So where is the Schadenfreude, you say?  Happy ending for all, right?  Palestinians get the greenhouses, Israelis get $14 million and the small group of admirable Jews in America get the warm feeling of having made the world a more tolerant and loving place where Arabs appreciate Jewish kindness and are less eager to murder Jews, right?

Well, no, not really!

Have you heard the old story about a scorpion that asked a fox to carry him across a river?

The fox refused: "You are a scorpion and you might sting me," he said.  The scorpion scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous. Why would I sting you? We would both drown if I did that," he said.

The fox thought this made sense and told him to climb on his back.  Halfway across the river the scorpion stung the fox. "Why did you do that?  Now we'll both drown," cried the drowning fox.

"I know, my friend, but it is in my nature to sting" said the scorpion before dying.

And so it is in the nature of the Palestinian mentality: Just an hour or so after the Jews left Gaza, thousands of Palestinians swarmed into the empty settlements.

The Palestinian police stood and watched the mob demolish the abandoned synagogues and set them on fire.  They also watched with interest as part of the crowd turned on the greenhouses, breaking windows, taking plates of glass, wiring, computer and electronic parts, irrigation pipes and timers.

It didn't take long and after a few hours or so the greenhouses that it had taken years to build were just so much junk.

And so I have Schadenfreude. The Palestinians will not export flowers to Holland or fruit to France.  The greenhouses will not be rebuilt.

The Palestinian economy, such as it is, will continue to be mired in corruption, hatred and violence.

They will suffer—Schadenfreude­—but still, they'll never admit that it was their own fault.

And I also have Schadenfreude towards the naive rich Jews who thought that the Arab reaction to their gift would be based on logic and not on inbred hatred. You silly people, didn't you learn yet that this is the Middle East where scorpions sting even if this means their own destruction?  You lost $14 million and, you know, I am glad you did.

I only hope that Israel cashed the $14 million check before it was too late.

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