Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pain at the pump? Think of Gaza.

If you are in the US, you are bound to be feeing the "pain at the pump" as the news networks like to put it.

I was talking to my father today in Gaza. "How's the car doing? Did you fix that loud noise its making?" he asks, ever the concerned parents.

"Yes, its purring like a kitten now, and I'm $400 poorer. Lucky car. But the gas is $4 a gallon now."

"Yeah well we don't have guess, don't complain."

In fact, he was quick to point out that gas is in such short supply now in Gaza that its selling on the black market for 600 Shekels per 20 liters, the equivalent of $35 per gallon. Yes, you read that correctly: ONE GALLON= $35.

Of course the real problem is not for the average "consumer", since Gazans are not really "gas guzzlers"; it is for the things that fuel powers- everything from water pumps to hospital generators.

A brief email from my dad and some pictures he took:

Dear Laila:

I attached some pictures of GAZA today. Almost no cars in the streets as there is no Gas ( my car is parked ), little diesel by ration to taxis. People started using biodiesel ( cooking oil instead of Diesel ) which causes irritation to the skin, eyes and breathing. People use masks when they walk to minimize the smell. Streets are clean as you can see, 100 times cleaner than Cairo. Food supplies are twice as expensive.

Taxis are scarce now. but if you find one it costs double or triple what it used to be. Public taxis run on bio-diesel now because of shortage of fuel. 2 NIS per person. Private taxi costs 20 NIS in town. People walk a lot more now.

I attached photos of empty streets of Gaza because of the fuel shortage and people standing in long lines to receive coupons to get Gas by ration ,just like what happened in Europe during the second world war.


The sign reads: "Travel...Education...Medical treatment...Hajj...Humanitarian needs..why have we been prevented from them?"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama for Israel!!

I know I shouldn't be surprised or anything, but really...did the transition from clinching the Democratic nomination to all out AIPAC prostitution have to be so stark? Maybe since I am not an American citizen and don't vote, I'm looking at this from a different perspective (as in, a national of that place you think should remain under siege).

I know its one of those situations people keep hoping will turn out better than it really is, or a lesser of two evils type of thing : "he has to say that, but when he's in office...".

But does he? Polls of past years showed that in fact the majority of Americans were in support of a new US Middle East Policy; one where Israel was not allowed to get away with every damn thing, where it did not get blind support; where American pressure should be utilized to achieve a just and lasting peace. Yet presidential candidate after candidate continue to think otherwise. And what of all that about change?

I mean, c'mon, Jerusalem, the undivided capital of Israel? That's very...how shall we say..Bushesque? Billy Graham? Yesterday? What was that about peace in 2008?

I've said it once and I will say it again: American politicians are stauncher Zionists than Israelis. As Sharon once said, Bush can be a mouthpiece for Israel. Or something like that. And now, we have Barak..er...Barack.


An excellent piece by Daoud Kuttab on the same topic in the Huffington Post, where he asks "what happened to the Anti-Lobby Nominee?". An excerpt:

America's black nominee who would have supported divestment on racist south Africa blasted international divestment calls on Israel, and libeled Arab oil producing countries by saying that "petrodollars are responsible for the killing of Amerihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.italic.gif
insert italic tagscan soldiers and Israeli citizens." How pathetic.

If there was a time that a presidential candidate should have had courage to change course on the way Washington is run this was the time. If there was a group that deserved a more honest speech it was this. Obama failed in both tests. This is a shame.

Even John Stuart had his say