Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size swim pools: what the media won’t report about Gaza

Tom Gross

* While prominent Western media continue to lead their viewers and readers astray with accounts of a non-existent “mass humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, fancy restaurants (video below) and an Olympic-size swimming pool open there

* Most Israeli towns don’t have Olympic-size swimming pools

* Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live a middle class (and in some cases an upper class) lifestyle that Western journalists refuse to report on because it doesn’t fit with the simplistic story they were sent to write* If you drop into the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu” (video, photos below)

* UN-run summer camp for Palestinian children burned to the ground for being “un-Islamic”; UN staff there threatened with murder; UN Security Council fails to react

* It is quite something when the president of a country (Shimon Peres) sees the need to criticize a foreign newspaper, such are the depths that The Guardian sunk to yesterday

(There will be no dispatches next week or the week after while I engage in other work.)


1. The lies the media and NGOs tell about Gaza
2. Steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu
3. Starved of water and building materials?
4. An industry of lies
5. Gaza’s Olympic-sized swimming pool
6. Who burned down the summer camp?
7. “A summer program of arts and sport” unacceptable to Islamists
8. “Teaching schoolgirls dancing and immorality”
9. Foreign governments and NGOs ignore Hamas’s worsening human rights record
10. Dozens more West Bank roadblocks to be dismantled
11. Shimon Peres attacks The Guardian’s blatant lies
12. Obama slowly paving the way for military strikes on Iran’s nuclear program?


[All notes below by Tom Gross]

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mideast, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Yet the BBC and other media fail to report on the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets.

No, this would spoil their agenda. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy. If we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.

Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way the BBC and other prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.


If you drop by the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook for Gaza and the West Bank, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza.

And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).

Please take a look at the pictures on the above website. They are not the kind of things you see in The New York Times or CNN or in Newsweek, whose international edition last week had one of the most disgracefully misleading stories about Gaza I have ever seen, portraying it in terms which were virtually reminiscent of Hiroshima after a nuclear blast.

In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this video (which is up on the club’s own website), I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.

In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops.

And please see here for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.


James Booe said...

One pool, one fancy restaurant, 1.5 million people? Those are all the facts? I hardly see how one pool and one restaurant is indicative of the entire population of 1.5 million people. And funny how I'm seeing this exact same blog post over and over...hasbara?

Pre-Operation Cast Lead, probably worse now:

UNICEF: At a glance: Occupied Palestinian Territory

Chronic malnutrition affects nearly 10 per cent of children under age five. The situation is most acute in Gaza, where 50,000 children are malnourished. About half of children under age two are anaemic and 70

[PDF] Nutritional Assessment of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 2003

Inside Gaza: Malnutrition and shortages

GS Don Morris, Ph.D./Chana Givon said...


I note that you do not respond to facts presented in the article than make a gigantic leap in logic with your one pool, one restaurant statement-I note that you do not address Hamas' administrative operations inside Gaza and its responsibility producing the lifestyle you allude to-I note that you offer UN based urls and then offer "probably worse now"-let's see, what you just did is speak upon behalf of your agenda, no? How funny!