Monday, November 5, 2012

Micah Halpern's Gaza Circus

Micah Halpen is a Huffington Post blogger who so far has only written about Egypt, but I suppose pressure was placed on him to get back to the chosen victims, so his latest article is about an Egyptian circus coming to Gaza (close enough). The article is on the whole actually pretty balanced but I wanted to demonstrate just how close or far from the reality he comes. Here's some nice devotion to the truth, right in the beginning:
"Life in Gaza is everything but normal -- and a circus symbolizes the normal. Even while the performers went about setting up the big tent, rockets were booming overhead. Israel was hitting back at Gaza for the nearly hundred rockets that had been shot at them over the past few days."
Yeah, did you see that, Huffington Post readership? Israel was hitting back! Unfortunately this doesn't last, because Mr. Halpen (by choice or otherwise) goes back to the tired meme of the poor suffering Gazans:
"Circuses are supposed to be mindless fun, but there is something strangely eerie about a circus coming to Gaza. In many ways, Gaza is a war zone. People are preoccupied with getting the basics.International aid groups are there providing the necessary minimum to the residents. And while there is a growing number of extremely rich Gazans who have made their millions by creating a smuggling trade, the vast majority of people in Gaza are terribly poor. And they are suffering. So bringing a circus there for a month might not be the best business move."
Yes, I'm sure the Gazans are having a lot of trouble getting the basics. Like iPhones. And as for the vast majority of people, I'm not sure what the poverty line is there, but according to the CIA World Factbook less than 40% of Gazans are under it. They aren't even close to the poorest place in the world. But besides, I get the impression that this circus is not about making money but about the propaganda, just like everything Gaza's Arab neighbors do involving it. They certainly haven't done anything actually helpful in a long time.

So after quoting something from Cabaret (?) Mr. Halpen moves on to a brief discussion of how relations between Gaza and Egypt have changed lately with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which I take it you are all familiar with. Then we have what looks like actual criticism of Hamas, if you can believe it:
"Because of certain issues, the circus is taking on a Gaza-like character. That means that no women from Egypt are in the show as a response to the great concern that women would insult the sensitivities of the very religiously conservative Hamas. And because of the problems, especially the paperwork, that bringing a lion and a tiger into Gaza presented they, too, remained back in Egypt."
Gender apartheid in a circus? Eh, who cares. This is their culture and we shouldn't judge them about it right? I wonder if women will even be allowed to see the show. I also like the way that Mr. Halpen spun this little tidbit of information: Women are being excluded not because Islamist radicals see them as property, but because having them would "insult the sensitivities" of the ruling party. I guess Hamas are like a tiny china doll that we have to be careful to make sure women stay far away from or else they will shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.

Don't expect any of the Huffington Posters to notice this part though, and Mr. Halpen has to get back to the eternal suffering of the Palestinians:
"Tickets cost between $5 and $10. That might sound very inexpensive but it is still way too much for the average Gaza resident, who lives on $2 per day. Over a million and a half people live in Gaza. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world."
 I'd like to see a link for that $2 a day statistic, as I can't find it anywhere on the Internet. Anyway, after some more puffing about the circus and how it's good to laugh and smile at things besides the killing of Jews (my embellishment), Mr. Halpen signs off. And the Huffington Posts' daily Israel-Palestinian article is fulfilled.

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