Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Went To A Flea Market And A Border Broke Out

We've been watching the recent events on the southern border of Gaza with some interest the past few days. For the three people who've been underground in a coal mine this week and haven't kept up with events, the southern border of Gaza was until recently sealed off by a metal and concrete wall erected when the Israelis pulled out of the area a couple years ago.
In a carefully orchestrated 'spontaneous' event, the wall came down with the assistance of Hamas sappers and large quantities of plastique. It was, I think, contrived because Hamas apparently paid the civil servants early so they could attend the 'spontaneous' event.
Perhaps they expected the Egyptian border guards to open fire and create yet another stage managed atrocity event they're so good at.
It didn't work out that way.
What happened was that a flea market on a grand scale erupted. To the gaze of bemused Egyptian border cops, people bought things-cigarettes, food, motorbikes, cement, diesel fuel, cell phones-that are difficult to come by and expensive on the mean streets of Gaza.
They also took the opportunity to visit the old folks who'd moved to Egypt, drink tea, have a day trip and generally lighten up. For the most part it seemed like a good natured sort of thing.
In one respect, cooping people up in Gaza doesn't seem to have done much good for anyone, doesn't matter who they are or what flag they fly, and it hasn't improved security a great deal for anyone.
On a deeper level, however, Hamas may have miscalculated badly, if the intent was to contrive yet another stage managed atrocity, because people had a good time and folks for the most part behaved pretty well. How long it'll continue is anyone's guess.
This was an unintended referendum of sorts, and a lot of Palestinians voted with their feet and their cash.
What they said, loud and clear, was "We want a normal life with a few comforts, and you're not delivering."
If it was up to me, I'd say, let it be.
Photo credit NYT


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