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Today's Stories

October 4, 2006

Paul Wolf
The Mushy Rebellion: Pakistan Under Musharraf

Sean Penn
The Arrogant, the Misguided and the Cowards

Dave Lindorff
Outrage as Misdirection: The Real Scandal isn't Foley

Diane Farsetta
For Sale: Iraqi Kurdistan

Sharon Smith
Democrats: Yes to War, No to Pedophilia

Sara Roy
The Economy of Gaza

Website of the Day
Alexander Cockburn: the Video Interview (Part Two)

October 3, 2006

Jennifer Van Bergen
Compassionate Conservative Pedophiles

Greg Moses
The Infallible Empire: Junking Habeas Corpus

Stan Cox
Real Bad ID: a National Driver's License and the Fading Right of Anonymity

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
How Empires Die

Evelyn Pringle
Big Pharma Takes a Hit: Alaska's Supreme Court Outlaws Forced Drugging

Fred Wilhelms
SoundExchange and Unpaid Music Artists: Help Us Find These Musicians and Get Them Paid!

Michael Abelman
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: the Risks of Convenience and Consolidation

Gary Leupp
The Foley Follies

Website of the Day
Bush and Blair: Endless Love


October 2, 2006

Eric Hazan
Roadmap to Nowhere: an Interview with Tanya Reinhart on Israel/Palestine Since 2003

Mike Whitney
Bloodbath on 60 Minutes: Court Stenographer Finally Comes Clean

Norman Solomon
American Narcissism and Iraq

Assaf Kfoury
Meeting Nasrallah

Missy Beattie
The Meaning of "ummmm": Speaker Hasert and the Over-Friendly Congressman

Arthur Neslen
Lie Less in Gaza

Paula J. Caplan
How the Supreme Court Mangled My Research

Website of the Day
Predator Drones Target Bechtel


Sept. 30 / 0ct. 1, 2006
Weekend Edition

Paul Craig Roberts
The New Face of Class War

Marjorie Cohn
Rounding Up US Citizens: a Consitutional Shredding

Ben Tripp
Deviant Conservative Males: an Analysis

Ron Jacobs
A Dismal and Chaotic Place: Iraq According to Patrick Cockburn

Ralph Nader

Mike Whitney
Iraq: The Breaking Point

Christopher Reed
It Pays to Raise a Ruckus

Seth Sandronsky
The Housing Bust: Excess Investment and Its Discontents

Fred Gardner
The Chancellor's Wife

Mokhiber / Weissman
Hewlett Packard and the Erosion of Privacy

Michael Dickinson
My Escape Attempt from Prison Transfer: Extract from a Diary in Turkish Police Custody

Alan Gregory
Fake Green: Top 10 Ways Politicians Pretend to be Environmentalists

Poets' Basement
Gardner, Landau, Lindorff, Davies,& Buknatski



September 29, 2006

Bruce Jackson
Chavez's Reading, Bush's Reading

Michael J. Smith
The Lobby Debate Does Manhattan

Emira Woods
Oil Trip: Record Profits for Exxon, Deprivation for Africa

William S. Lind
The Sanctuary Illusion: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq as Theme Parks for 4GW

David Swanson
Mommy, What's Waterboarding?

Jonathan Cook
Bad Faith and the Destruction of Palestine

Website of the Day
Jesus: the Recruitment Tapes

September 28, 2006

Sen. Russ Feingold
The Flaws in the Military Commissions Act

Ron Jacobs
The Generals, the Democrats and Iraq: One Policy, Two Parties

Mokhiber / Weissman
Scenes from Laura's Book Festival: Elmo Will Not Save You

Lee Sustar
A Left Challenge to Lula

Robert Jensen
Finding My Way Back to Church--and Getting Kicked Out

John Chuckman
America Has Just Lost Two More Wars

Evelyn Pringle
Inside America's Nursing Homes: a Hidden Tragedy of Neglect and Abuse

Nicola Nasser
Bush and Islam: Words vs. Deeds

Uri Avnery
Political Corruption in Israel

Website of the Day
Art Against the Empire

September 27, 2006

Patrick Cockburn
A Final Explosion Looms in Mosul

Camilo Mejia
Blowback From Iraq: Giving Terrorism a Reason to Exist

Pat Williams
Tax Burdens and Cheaters in the Rockies: Send Those IRS Mercenaries in Search of Montana's Land Barons and Oil Drillers

Ben Terrall
Failing Haiti: Another Bungled UN Mission

Ridgeway / Ng
Paul Weyrich Explaines His Opposition to the Patriot Act: a Short Film

Joe Allen
Where are the Mass Protests?

Andrew Wimmer
Don't Disappear Into a Black Hole

Franklin C. Spinney
Rumsfeld's AutoCarterization: Skullduggery in the Pentagon's Budget

Website of the Day
Model Nukes: the Photo Contest

September 26, 2006

Hani Shukrallah
The American Mind: When Historical Analysis is Reduced to Whim

William Blum
If It's Election Season, It Must Be Time for a Terror Alert

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Torturing the Obvious

Barbara Becnel
Witness to an Execution: a Slow and Very Painful Death

Paul Rockwell
Judicial Complicity in US War Crimes: the Watada Case

Dave Lindorff
Bush and Iran: Going to War to Save His Own Ass?

Rich Gibson
Lessons from the Detroit Teachers' Strike

Anthony Papa
The Danger of Meth Registries: "Have a Cold? Prove It, Then Sign Here"

Nate Mezmer
New Orleans is Back ... Without Blacks: Monday Night Football at the Superdome

Uri Avnery
Mohammed's Sword

Website of the Day
Only YOU Can Stop the Sale of Public Lands to Mining, Timber and Real Estate Corporations

September 25, 2006

Patrick Cockburn
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: a Journey to Iraq's "Taliban Republic"

Jonathan Cook
Human Rights Watch: Still Missing the Point on Lebanon

Joshua Frank
Did Maria Cantwell's Campaign Try to Buy Off Aaron Dixon?

Paul Craig Roberts
Is the Bush Administration Itching to Nuke Iran?

Robert Jensen
Defending Chavez on FoxNews

Dave Lindorff
Horowitz on Campus: This Mouth for Hire

Norman Solomon
Media Tall Tales for Next War

Dr. Charles Jonkel
Save a Grizzly, Visit a Library: "People like the Croc Hunter are Worse Than the Most Bloodthirsty Slob Hunter

Michael Dickinson
"The King's New Clothes:" a Play Written in a Turkish Jail

Alexander Cockburn
Flying Saucers and the Decline of the Left

Website of the Day
Great Bear Foundation


September 23 / 24, 2006
Weekend Edition

Jonathan Cook
How Israel is Engineering the "Clash of Civilizations"

Jeffrey St. Clair
Star Wars Goes Online ... Crashes

Dr. Anon
A Doctor's Life in Baghdad

Tom Barry
Oil and Political Opportunism

Carl G. Estabrook
The Darfur Smokescreen

Laura Carlsen
Mexico's Two Presidents

Todd Chretien
The Axis of Lesser Evilism

Dr. Charles Jonkel
From Grizzly Man to the Croc Hunter: the Global Media and the Death of Bears

Debbie Nathan
I Was Disappeared By Salon

Fred Gardner
Dustin Costa Struggles Against Invisibility

Fred Wilhelms
The Money Belongs to the Artists Who Created the Music

Seth Sandronsky
The Cruel Economics of Health Care in America

Ralph Nader
Mavericks at Work

Rev. William Alberts
"Specks" and "Logs" and 9/11

Jon Van Camp
Who is Hezbollah?

Heather Gray
Conservatives and Technology

David Vest
Jerry Lightfoot, RIP

Jeffrey St. Clair
Playlist: What I'm Listenting to This Week

Poets' Basement
Landau / Davies

Website of the Weekend
Meet Me In The Morning: C. Wonderland & J. Lightfoot

Video of the Weekend
Is It a Bird? A Missile? Or, Just Perhaps, a Friggin' Plane?


September 22, 2006

Patrick Cockburn
Republic of Fear: Torture in Bush's Iraq, Worse Than Under Saddam

Michael Donnelly
It's the Manipulated Economy, Stupid!

Ramzy Baroud
The Next Palestinian Struggle

Evo Morales
"We Need Partners, Not Bosses": Address to the United Nations

Stanley Howard
Torture and Justice in Chicago

Sarah Leah Whitson
Hezbollah's Rockets and Civilian Casualties: a Reply to Jonathan Cook

JoAnn Wypijewski
Conservations at Ground Zero

Website of the Day
Cockburn in Atlanta: the Video Interview

September 21, 2006

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad
"No Nation Should Have Superiority Over Others:" UN Address

Justin E. H. Smith
Ending the Death Penalty: Outline of an Abolitionist Program

Rick Kuhn
Australian Government Steps Up Attacks on Muslims: "I Certainly Don't Want That Type of People in Australia"

Mike Roselle
Ed Wiley's Long March: the Elementary School vs. the Strip Mine

Amira Hass
In the Name of Security: What Israeli Police Files Reveal About the Occupation of Palestine

Deborah Rich
From the Kitchen of Dr. Frankenstein: the Consumption of Gene-Engineeered Foods

Mickey Z.
10 Reasons Cars Suck

Saul Landau
Terrorism at Sheridan Circle

Website of the Day
Stop the Decapitation of Mountains!

September 20, 2006

Sharon Smith
Elections, Detentions and Deportations

Christopher Reed
Goodbye Koizumi, Hello Abe

John Ross
Mexico: Does AMLO Have a Future?

Joshua Frank
A Wasted Campaign: How Jonathan Tasini Helped Hillary Clinton and Distracted the Antiwar Movement

Arthur Neslen
The Clenched Fist of the Phoenix: What Made Israel Burn Lebanon, Again?

Norman Solomon
The Hollow Promise of Digital Technology

Michael Carmichael
The Vatican's Tyrant

Evelyn Pringle
The Merck Vioxx Litigation: a Scorecard

Hugo Chavez
Rise Up Against the Empire: Address to the United Nations

Website of the Day
Before You Enlist: Watch This Video!

September 19, 2006

Patrick Cockburn
Deadly Harvest: Lebanese Fields Sown with Israeli Cluster Bombs

Jeff Leys
Economic Warfare: Iraq and the IMF

Brian M. Downing
War, Taxes and Democracy

Col. Dan Smith
Dispelling Brutality

Liaquat Ali Khan
Presidential Incitements: Did Bush's Speech Violate Geneva Conventions on Genocide?

Ron Jacobs
Just Sign on the Dotted Line: Iraqi Oil and Production Sharing Agreements

Nik Barry-Shaw / Yves Engler
Canada in Haiti: Torture, Murder and Complicity

Lucinda Marshall
Air Paranoia: the Great Toothpaste and Hair Gel Scare

Saul Landau
The Pinochet Syndicate

Photo of the Day
Hold That Bridge!

Website of the Day
Scenarios for an Iranian War

September 18, 2006

Carl Boggs
Crimes of Empire

Uri Avnery
Peace Panic

Mike Stark / Jim Bullington
Ann Richards, the Original Texacutioner

Joshua Frank
Corporate E. Coli

John Murphy
The Price of Free Speech

Ramzy Baroud
Murdoch Almighty

Dave Lindorff
On Constitution Day

Bill Quigley
Showing Conviction at Echo 9

Website of the Day
Tutorial: How to Hack a Diebold Voting Machine


September 16 / 17, 2006
Weekend Edition

Tariq Ali
A Bavarian Provocation

Eliza Ernshire
Death and Tears in Nablus

Jeffrey St. Clair
The Remaking of Cataract Canyon (Part 7): To Tilted Park

Mairead Corrigan Maguire
A Nobel Laureate Visits with Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu

Brian Cloughley
"Let Them Drink Coke!": Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan

Ben Tripp
November Prognostication: Republicans Sweep!

Laura Carlsen
Bush and Latin America: War on Terrorism or Fight for Social Justice

Ralph Nader
Terror on the Road

Ron Jacobs
Shooting Sgrena

John Chuckman
Imperial Entropy

Robert Fisk
The American Military's Cult of Cruelty

Gary Leupp
The Pope's New Crusade: Defender of the West, Scourge of Islam

Lawrence R. Velvel
The Pretexter in Chief: Learning About Bush from Hewlett-Packard

Missy Comley Beattie
The Insecurity of Immorality

Adrienne Johnstone
Deporting Widows: the Nightmare of a Kenyan Immigrant

Mickey Z.
Why I Hate America

Jeffrey St. Clair
Playlist: What I'm Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Kearney, Orloski, Engel, Louise and Davies

Website of the Weekend
Still Life with Killpecker

September 15, 2006

Diana Johnstone
In Defense of Conspiracy: 9/11, in Theory and in Fact

Diane Christian
On Retaliation

William S. Lind
General Puffery: When the Military Brass Deceives

Lee Sustar
Bosses Take Aim at Undocument Workers

Dave Lindorff
Retroactive Immunity for Bush?

Ramzy Baroud
Presidential PR: Lost in the Bush Spin Cycle

Mokhiber / Weissman
The Cesspool

Jeffrey St. Clair
Glow, River, Glow: Radioactive Leaks and Plumbers at Hanford

Website of the Day
F-22: The Most Expensive Piece of Junk Ever Built?

September 14, 2006

Franklin Lamb
Israel's Use of American Cluster Bombs: a Walk Through the Rubble

Tim Wilkinson
Alan Dershowitz's Sinister Scheme

Dick J. Reavis
Mexico's Time of Troubles: Who Benefits?

Sam Husseini
9/11 Five Years Later: a Conspiracy to Silence

Doug Giebel
Democracies of Death: Why John Adams Wouldn't Recognize His Own Country

Bill Berkowitz
The Messaging Strategy of the Iraq War

Diane Farsetta
What Media Democracy Looks Like

Mary Turck
Targeting Refugees and Human Rights Workers in Colombia

Patrick Cockburn
Amnesty Intl Accuses Hizbollah of War Crimes, But Katyusha Damage "Much Less" Than Israel Claimed

J.L. Chestnut, Jr.
Ah, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

Website of the Day
The Shocking Truth About Inequality

September 13, 2006

Jack Bratich
Eyes Put a Spell on You: Signs of Surveillance in the Public Secret Sphere

John Ross
Welcome to the Nightmare: Al Qaeda de Mexico?

Christopher Brauchli
"You Had to Have Been There": Teaching Iraq and Iran

Dave Lindorff
Mourning in America: Bush Weeps? Who are They Kidding?

Antony Loewenstein
My Israel Question

Al Krebs
The Gates Foundation and African Agriculture

Leonard Peltier
Crazy Horse in Chains

Jim Bensman
My Adventures with the FBI: How I Was Targeted as a Terrorist

Website of the Day
FreedomWalk: Take a Moment for Leonard Peltier

September 12, 2006

Norman Finkelstein
Kill Arabs, Cry Anti-Semitism

Seth Sandronsky
The War on Nurses

John Walsh
Khatami Comes to Harvard

Alan Maass
"Islamic Fascism": the New Hysteria

David Krieger
Troubling Questions About Missile Defense

Nate Mezmer
September 12th, America

Kathleen Christison
The Coming Collapse of Zionism

September 11, 2006

Uri Avnery
State of Chutzpah

Patrick Cockburn
Palestinians Forced to Scavenge Rubbish Dumps for Food

Col Dan Smith
The Centrality of War in the Presidency of George W. Bush

Dr. Susan Block
Beyond Terror

Anthony Alessandrini
Forgetting 9/11

Dave Lindorff
Bush After 9/11: Five Years of High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
What Happened?

Joshua Frank
Proving Nothing: How the 9/11 "Truth" Movement Helps Bush & Cheney

Jean Bricmont
The End of the "End of History"

Sprague / Emesberger
"You Are a Dog. You Should Die": Death Threats Against Lancet's Haiti Investigator

Website of the Day
Web Piracy


September 9/10, 2006
Weekend Edition

Alexander Cockburn
The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Off the Hook

Jeffrey St. Clair
The Remaking of Cataract Canyon: In the Footsteps of Vladimir Putin (Part Six)

Greg Grandin
Good Christ, Bad Christ: Testament of the Death Squads

Peter Stone Brown
Bob Dylan's Swing Time Waltz in the Face of the Apocalypse

Ralph Nader
X-Raying Greed

Brian Cloughley
Rumsfeld at the American Legion: Dead Babies and Nazi Propaganda

Col. Chet Richards
Crossroads at the Litani

David Model
Tailoring the Case Against Iran: Cut from the Same Old Pattern

Dave Himmelstein
From Bil'in to Birmingham

Ron Jacobs
War and the Power of Words

Fred Gardner
Is Medical Pot Image a Turn-Off to Teens?

Mike Whitney
America's Economic Meltdown

Josh Gryniewicz
In the Belly of the Bentonville Beast: Working for Wal-Mart

Daniel Gross /
Joe Tessone
An IWW Story at Starbucks

Joe Bageant
Inside the Iron Theater

Nicole Colson
The Colbert Factor: Some Truthiness, At Last

Alexander Billet
Thirty Years of "White Riot": Long Live The Clash!

Poets' Basement
Engel, Louise, Buknatski, Davies, & Orloski


September 8, 2006

Uri Avnery
"I'm a Leftist, But ...": the Liberals' War on Lebanon

Paul Craig Roberts
Books Are Our Salvation

Bill Quigley
Judge Says: "No Clowning Around Our WMDs!"

Robert Jensen
Parallel Purges: Academic Freedom in Iran and the US

Norman Solomon
Perception Gap: The War on Terror as Others See It

Keith Bolin


September 8, 2006

Uri Avnery
"I'm a Leftist, But ...": the Liberals' War on Lebanon

Paul Craig Roberts
Books Are Our Salvation

Bill Quigley
Judge Says: "No Clowning Around Our WMDs!"

Robert Jensen
Parallel Purges: Academic Freedom in Iran and the US

Norman Solomon
Perception Gap: The War on Terror as Others See It

Keith Bolin
The Future of the Family Farm

Kristin S. Schafer
The Global Trade in Deadly Pesticides

Jeffrey St. Clair
The Remaking of Cataract Canyon (Part Five)

Patrick Cockburn
Gaza is Dying

Website of the Day
Help the Bismark 3!

September 7, 206

Marjorie Cohn
Why Bush Really Came Clean About the CIA's Secret Torture Prisons

Sharon Smith
Downward Mobility: No Recovery for Workers

René Drucker Colín
The Fraud in Mexico

Michael Donnelly
Bush Family Values: About Those Nazi Appeasers

John Borowski
Scholastic Peddles a Fictitious Path to 9/11 to Kids

Lucinda Marshall
Bombing Indiana

Charles Sullivan
Katrina and the New Jim Crow: Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans

Jeffrey St. Clair
The Remaking of Cataract Canyon: Part Four

Jonathan Cook
How Human Rights Watch Lost Its Way in Lebanon

Website of the Day
Rasta! Reggae's Joe Hill


September 6, 2006

Stephen Soldz
Protecting the Torturers: Bad Faith and Distortions frm the American Psychological Assocation

Dave Zirin
Cops vs. Jocks: the Shooting of Steve Foley

Ramzy Baroud
The Gaza Maze: Who Gained Most from the Fox Reporters' Kidnapping

Noel Ignatiev
Democrats, Pwogs and the Lesser Evil Folly

Dave Lindorff
Bombing Without Regrets: The US and Cluster Bombs

Norman Solomon
Spinning Troop Levels in Iraq

Binoy Kampmark
The Death of Steve Irwin and the Politics of the Zoo

Jeffrey St. Clair
A Premature Burial: the Remaking of Cataract Canyon (Part Three)

John Ross
The Death of Mexican Presidency

Website of the Day
Flaming Arrows


September 5, 2006

Jonathan Cook
Will Robert Fisk tell us the whole story? Time For A Champion of Truth to Speak Up

Patrick Cockburn
Better Not Meet at the Casbah

Mike Whitney
The Worst Secretary of Defense in U.S. History? You Be the Judge

Roland Sheppard
The Civil Rights Movement is Dead and So is the Democratic Party

James Petras
As Bush Regime Faces Twilight Slide, How Much Havoc Can Paulson Wreak?

Alexander Cockburn
Will Bush Bomb Teheran?


September 4, 2006

Clancy Sigal
The Women Who Gave Us Labor Day

Jeffrey St. Clair
The Remaking of Cataract Canyon: Part 2

Anthony Alessandrini
The Great Debate about Aroma Coffee: Why I Boycott

Dennis Perrin
The Great Debate in Tarrytown: Straight Zion, No Chaser

Daniel Cassidy
'S lom to Slum

Paul Craig Roberts
The War Is Lost


September 2 / 3, 2006

Uri Avnery
When Napoleon Won at Waterloo

Jeffrey St. Clair
A Premature Burial: the Remaking of Cataract Canyon

Ralph Nader
The No-Fault White House

Noam Chomsky
Viewing the World from a Bombsight

Allan Lichtman
Arrested Democracy: Letter from the Baltimore County Jail

Stanley Heller
When Criticism of Cluster Bombs is "Anti-Semitic"

Rana el-Khatib
Invasion's Child: the Making of Issa

Peter Montague
Taking on the Pentagon: Chemical Weapons to Burn

Laura Carlsen
Mexico on a Collision Course

Dr. Susan Block
Bush Hate Rising

Joe Bageant
Roy's People: Why Progressives Need to Listen to Orbison, Not Policy Wonks

Scott Stedjan / Matt Schaaf
A New Generation of Landmines?

Gary Leupp
The Emperor Has Been Exposed

Stephen Fleischman
The Great American Oligarchy

Paul Balles
Has Ahmadinejad Already Checkmated Bush?

Ingmar Lee
Canada's $450 Million Gift to Bush: the Softwood Lumber Slush Fund

Jane Stillwater
Burning Man: the Good, the Bad and the Evil Twin

Ron Jacobs
Dylan Faces the Apocalypse, Again

St. Clair / Bossert
Playlist: What We're Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Grima, Engel, Orloski and Davies

Website of the Weekend
To New Orleans: a Photo Journal


September 1, 2006

Uri Avnery
Olmert Agonistes

Paul Craig Roberts
Of Wolves and Men (and Impotent Democrats)

Bill Ayers
Exclusionary Signs of the Times

Kevin Zeese
The Best War Ever

Xochitl Bervera
The Forgotten Children of New Orleans

Norman Solomon
Bush vs. Ahmadinejad: a TV Debate We'll Never See

Alexander Cockburn
Hezbollah Denounces Nasrallah Interview as a Fake

Richard Neville
Rupert Murdoch's Victims

Website of the Day
The Uranium Flood







Subscribe Online

October 4, 2006

"79 Percent of Gazan Households are Living in Poverty"

The Economy of Gaza


In one of many reports and accounts of economic life in the Gaza Strip that I have recently read, I was struck by a description of an old man standing on the beach in Gaza throwing his oranges into the sea. The description leapt out at me because it was this very same scene I myself witnessed some 21 years ago during my very first visit to the territory. It was the summer of 1985 and I was taken on a tour of Gaza by a friend named Alya. As we drove along Gaza's coastal road I saw an elderly Palestinian man standing at the shoreline with some boxes of oranges next to him. I was puzzled by this and asked Alya to stop the car. One by one, the elderly Palestinian took an orange and threw it into the water. His was not an action of playfulness but of pain and regret. His movements were slow and labored as if the weight of each orange was more than he could bear. I asked my friend why he was doing this and she explained that he was prevented from exporting his oranges to Israel and rather than watch them rot in his orchards, the old man chose to cast them into the sea. I have never forgotten this scene and the impact it had on me.

Politics and Economics

Over two decades later, after peace agreements, economic protocols, road maps and disengagements, Gazans are still casting their oranges into the sea. Yet Gaza is no longer where I found it so long ago but someplace far worse and more dangerous. One year after Israel's 2005 "disengagement" from the Strip, which was hailed by President Bush as a great opportunity for "the Palestinian people to build a modern economy that will lift millions out of poverty [and] create the institutions and habits of liberty,"i a "Dubai on the Mediterranean"ii according to Thomas Friedman, Gaza is undergoing acute and debilitating economic declines marked by unprecedented levels of poverty, unemployment, loss of trade, and social deterioration especially with regard to the delivery of health and educational services.

The optimism that surrounded the disengagement was also reflected in the Palestinian Authority's plan for reviving Gaza's economy known as the Gaza Strip Economic Development Strategy, published soon after the disengagement was completed.iii This document, less a development plan than an articulation of objectives, had, among its primary goals "[a]chieving stability, contiguity and control over land to support the Palestinian economy," and "[a]dopting effective economic policies to enable the rehabilitation of the Palestinian economy to achieve comprehensive development."iv

Needless to say the Authority has not been able to realize its objectives given the exigencies imposed. However, it is important to point out that even in the absence of many constraints, rational planning of the sort described in the Authority's plan is simply futile in an environment that is itself so irrational, typified by increasingly acute unpredictability, vulnerability and dependency, themselves resulting from a continued and unchanged occupation. This is not a new problem but an old one that requires a new approach that argues that as long as the political environment remains unchanged (or worsened), economic development is precluded and economic planning should focus on areas less vulnerable to external pressure (e.g. labor force training, institutional development). Otherwise, planning becomes nothing more than a theoretical and increasingly abstract exercise that promises few if any meaningful results. In this context, international aid can play a critical role in helping people survive but with little if any structural impact on the economy.
The pauperization of Gaza's economy is not accidental but deliberate, the result of continuous restrictive Israeli policies (primarily closure), particularly since the start of the current uprising six years ago, and more recently of the international aid embargo imposed on Palestinians after the election and installation of the democratically elected Hamas-led government earlier this year. However, one need only look at the economy of Gaza, for example, on the eve of the uprising to realize that the devastation is not recent. By the time the second intifada broke out, Israel's closure policy had been in force for seven years, leading to by then unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty (which would soon be surpassed). Yet the closure policy proved so destructive only because the 30 year process of integrating Gaza's economy into Israel's had made the local economy deeply dependent. As a result, when the border was closed in 1993, self-sustainment was no longer possible-the means were simply not there. Decades of expropriation and deinstitutionalization had long ago robbed Palestine of its potential for development, ensuring that no viable economic (and hence political) structure could emerge.v

International Agencies: Realties and Forecasts

According to the World Bank, Palestinians are currently experiencing the worst economic depression in modern history. The opprobrious imposition of international sanctions has had a devastating impact on an already severely comprised economy given its extreme dependence on external sources of finance. For example, the Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on two sources of income. The first is annual aid package from Western donors of about $1 billion per year (in 2005, according to the World Bank, donors gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian and emergency [$500m/38%], developmental [$450m/35%] and budgetary [$350m/27%]) assistance, much of it now suspended. The second is a monthly transfer by Israel of $55 million in customs and tax revenues that it collects for the PA, a source of revenue that is absolutely critical to the Palestinian budget and totally suspended.vi In fact, Israel is now withholding close to half a billion dollars in Palestinian revenue that is desperately needed in Gaza.

The combined impact of restrictions, notably the almost unabated closure and the ongoing economic boycott, has resulted in unprecedented levels of unemployment that currently approach 40 percent in Gaza (compared to less than 12 percent in 1999). In fact, Palestinian workers from Gaza have not been allowed into Israel since 12 March 2006, Gaza's primary market and all entry and exit points have been virtually sealed since June 25, 2006 when Israel's current military campaign in Gaza began.vii In the next five years, furthermore, 135,000 new jobs will be needed just to keep unemployment at 10 percent.viii Trade levels have been similarly affected. By early May 2006, for example, the Karni crossing, through which commercial supplies enter Gaza, had been closed for 47 percent of the year with estimated daily losses of $500,000-$600,000.ix Compounding this are agricultural losses amounting to an estimated $1.2 billion for both Gaza and the West Bank over the last six years.

By April 2006 79 percent of Gazan households were living in povertyx (compared to less than 30 percent in 2000), a figure that has likely increased; many are hungry. Furthermore, in Gaza, adding one dependent member to the family increases the household's probability of being poor by 3.5 percent. The dependency burden found in Gaza is second only to that of Africa.xi Hence, the number of adults in a household who are employed is a strong factor in poverty alleviation. Not surprisingly, individuals living in the Gaza Strip are 23 percent more likely to be poor than individuals living in the West Bank.

The United Nations currently feeds approximately 830,000 of Gaza's 1.4 million population (or 59 percent of the total population who would go hungry without UN assistance)-100,000 of whom were added since March of this year. UNRWA primarily supports 610,000 (all of whom are refugees) and the World Food Program supports 220,000 (60,000 were added in September 2006 alone) non-refugees. The latter include 136,000 "chronic poor" who previously received welfare assistance from the PA.xii

Exacerbating Gaza's socioeconomic decline was Israel's attack on Gaza's only power station last June. The plant, which was destroyed, supplied 45 percent of the electricity in the Gaza Strip. The cuts in power have been extremely harmful to healthcare delivery, food and water supplies, and the treatment of sewage among other problems. Recently, the Israeli human rights group, B'tselem said the attack on the power plant constituted a war crime under international law since it targeted a civilian population.

Furthermore, since Israel's military invasion of the Gaza Strip known as "Operation Summer Rains," 237 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF (out of 382 since January 2006 and 2137 since September 2000, the majority civilians) and 821 wounded. The Israeli military has also fired at least 260 air-to-surface missiles and hundreds of artillery shells at mostly civilian targets including government buildings and educational institutions, dozens of private homes, six bridges and a number of roads, and hundreds of acres of agricultural land, destroying them.xiii [Note: Between 29 March and 27 June 2006, Israel launched 112 air strikes, fired 4,251 artillery shells and five naval shells killing 94 Gazans including 35 civilians.]xiv

According to the United Nations, in 2007, absent of any meaningful improvement, the Palestinian economy as a whole will be 35 percent smaller than it was in 2005, falling to its level in 1991, and over half the labor force will be unemployed.xv The UN recently published projections on the impact of reduced international aid on the Palestinian economy. Using 2005 as its basis of comparison, the projections assume a 30-50 percent reduction in aid (and with it public expenditures), a 50-100 percent increase in restrictions on trade, and a 10-20 percent increase in restrictions on labor flows to Israel. Under the worst-case scenario, which is not unlikely, the losses in GDP between 2006 and 2008 could reach $5.4 billion, which exceeds the Palestinian GDP in 2005. Eighty-four percent of total jobs available in 2005 could be lost.xvi Even under a better case scenario, writes Raja Khalidi, an economist at UNCTAD, "the Palestinian economy will implode to levels not witnessed for a generation."xvii

The Population Factor

Gaza's problem is not only one of occupation but of population and this vital to understand. Today, there are more than 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip: by 2010 the figure will be close to two million. Gaza has the highest birthrate in the region ­ 5.5 to 6.0 children per woman ­ and the population grows by 3 to 5 percent annually. Eighty percent of the population is under 50 and 50 percent is 15 years old or younger. The half of the territory in which the population is concentrated has one of the highest densities in the world. In the Jabalya refugee camp alone, there are 74,000 people per square kilometer, compared with 25,000 in Manhattan.

According to the latest data produced by Harvard University's 2010 Project, with an annual growth rate of between 3.45 and 3.5 percent, Gaza's population of 1,330,000 people will reach 1,590,000 by 2010 and 2,660,000 by 2028, doubling its current size. By 2010, furthermore, the adult population, relative to that of youth, will grow by 24 percent, placing added pressures on the job and housing markets.xviii If growing numbers of people are unable to secure work or housing, both of which are key to marriage and family structure, the resulting and widening gap between supply and demand will lead to greater violence and with it the continued militarization of society. Hence, population trends will be a major factor determining the socioeconomic wellbeing, or lack thereof, of the Gaza Strip. And even with an immediate decline in fertility, Gaza's young population will grow for at least a generation (because of the size of the upcoming cohorts).xix

The combination of a growing population and shifting age structure places enormous pressures on public services, especially education and health. In education, for example, population growth alone-without any improvement in the quality of services-will require 1,517 more teachers and 984 new classrooms over the next four years. Similarly, if Gaza's educational system is to reach current standards in the West Bank, it needs at least 7,500 additional teachers and 4,700 new classrooms. And if the Gaza Strip is to just maintain current levels of access to health services in 2010, it will need 425 more physicians, 520 additional nurses and 465 new hospital beds.xx

An Economic Forecast

The resulting damage-both present and future-cannot be undone simply by 'returning' Gaza's lands, removing 9,000 Israeli settlers, and allowing Palestinians freedom of movement and the right to build factories within an enlarged but isolated and encircled Gaza. Gaza's many problems cannot be addressed when its burgeoning population is confined within a physically constrained territory of limited resources. Density is not just a problem of people but of access to resources, especially labor markets. Without external access to jobs and the right to emigrate, something the Gaza Disengagement Plan and Olmert's realignment plan effectively deny, the Strip will remain a prison unable to engage in any form of economic development.

Indeed, in 2005, the international community (through the Ad Hoc Liason Committee) concluded that the most important factor in Palestine's economic decline is not reduced aid levels but movement and access restrictions and the suspension of revenue transfers. In fact, they concluded that in the continued absence of a political settlement (that would allow greater movement into Israel and beyond), international aid can only help Palestinians survive and nothing else.

The urgency of Gaza's plight is considerable for as Raja Khalidi writes, "Even assuming a full return of donor support and the relaxation of mobility restrictions by 2008, GDP and employment losses would continue to accumulate. This suggests that today's declines will have harmful, long-lasting effects on the economy that will persist even if adverse conditions are alleviated later on."xxi

Dr. Sara Roy is a Professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Dr. Roy has worked in the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 1985 conducting research primarily on the economic, social, and political development of the Gaza Strip and on U.S. foreign aid to the region. Dr. Roy has written extensively on the Palestinian economy, particularly in Gaza, and has documented its development over the last three decades.


i The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "President Bush Commends Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's Plan," 14 April 2004.

ii See my analysis of the disengagement agreement, in Sara Roy, "A Dubai on the Mediterranean," The London Review of Books, November 2005.

iii Ministry of National Economy and Ministry of Planning, Gaza Strip Economic Development Strategy, The Palestinian National Authority, September 2005.

iv Ibid. v Roy, "A Dubai on the Mediterranean."

vi Samar Assad, "Forecast for Palestinian Economic Survival," Palestine Center Information Brief No. 135, 18 April 2006.

vii United Nations, The Humanitarian Monitor-occupied Palestinian territory, Number 4, August 2006, p. 1.

viii Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research, Harvard University, Gaza 2010: human security needs in the Gaza Strip, Population Projections for Socioeconomic Development in the Gaza Strip, Working Paper #1, May 2006, Cambridge, MA, p. 18.

ix OCHA, Situation Report: The Gaza Strip, 3 May 2006

x United Nations, The Humanitarian Monitor, p. 7.

xi Harvard University, Population Projections for Socioeconomic Development in the Gaza Strip, p. 15.

xii Steven Erlanger, "As Parents Go Unpaid, Gaza Children Go Hungry," The New York Times, 14 September 2006, p. A11.

xiii Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Weekly Report: A Special Issue on the 6th Anniversary of the al-Aqsa Intifada, No. 38/2006, 21-27 September 2006, p. 2.

xiv Palestinian National Initiative, The Forgotten People: The Despair of Gaza One Year After the 'Disengagement', 14 September 2006. http://www.amin.org.

xv Raja Khalidi, "Palestinian collapse hurts all," Ha'aretz, 17 September 2006.

xvi Ibid.

xvii Ibid.

xviii Harvard University, Population Projections for Socioeconomic Development in the Gaza Strip, pp. 13-16, 20.

xix Ibid, p. 13.

xx Ibid, p. 21.

xxi Raja Khalidi, "Palestinian collapse hurts all."

This information brief was written for The Palestine Center. The above text may be used without permission but with proper attribution to The Palestine Center. This information brief does not necessarily reflect the views of The Jerusalem Fund.




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