13 September 2005

The word from Iraq

[source, source]

“In the name of Iraqi people, I say to you, Mr. President, and to the glorious American people, thank you, thank you. Thank you, because you liberated us from the worst kind of dictatorship.”

“Mr. President, you are a visionary, great statesman. We salute you. We are grateful to you. We will never forget what you have done for our people.”

— Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, September 13, 2005

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Preferring poverty

Western Action [source]

It was perhaps an odd request to make of a man noted for his commitment to Israeli causes and his fierce criticism of the Palestinian Authority.

Please raise $14 million to help buy the Jewish settlers’ lucrative greenhouses in the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinians can take them over when the settlers are gone. Oh, and can you get it done by the weekend, before the pullout starts? If not, the settlers will destroy the greenhouses on their way out of Gaza to keep them out of Arab hands.

Last Wednesday, though, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, real estate magnate and publisher of The Daily News, received just such a pitch from his friend James D. Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank, current Middle East envoy for the White House and would-be broker of the deal.

[…]

So he in turn picked up the phone and called a few of his friends and fellow billionaires, who also happened to be prominent Jewish philanthropists.

[…]

Within 48 hours, Mr. Zuckerman said, he had his $14 million. And the Palestinians had a shot at inheriting relatively intact the greenhouses whose vegetables and flowers have been a major source of Israeli export income, and, not incidentally, about 3,500 desperately needed Palestinian jobs.

Palestinian Reaction [source]

Palestinian police on Tuesday blocked off abandoned settlements and chased after scavengers in a first attempt to impose law and order after chaotic celebrations of Israel’s pullout from Gaza, but the overwhelmed forces were unable to halt looting of the area’s prized greenhouses.

The greenhouses, left behind by Israel as part of a deal brokered by international mediators, are a centerpiece of Palestinian plans for rebuilding Gaza after 38 years of Israeli occupation. […]

Just minutes away, crowds of looters in the Gadid settlement overwhelmed hundreds of guards trying to protect the greenhouses. Guards acknowledged that in many cases, they were unable to stop the looting.

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