What Does Snack Food Have To Do With Keeping Weapons Out Of Gaza ?

That’s the question raised by yesterday’s announcement that Israel would now allow snack food and drinks to be imported in to the Gaza Strip:

Israel is easing its Gaza embargo to allow snack food and drinks into the Palestinian enclave, Palestinian officials said Wednesday, following an international outcry over Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla.

(…)

An Israeli official said the new product list, announced hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was to host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, was unrelated to Israel’s May 31 takeover of the convoy that challenged its Gaza blockade.

The talks between Obama and Abbas are expected to focus on ways to ease the embargo, which has drawn mounting international criticism since Israeli commandos, who met violent resistance on a Turkish-flagged ship, killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

The Palestinian officials, based in the West Bank, said that as of next week, Israel will allow a wider variety of food, such as potato crisps, biscuits, canned fruit and packaged humous, as well as soft drinks and juice, into the Gaza Strip.

“They will send the first course. We are waiting for the main course,” Palestinian Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said in Ramallah. “We are waiting for this unjust siege to end.”

In a related development, the White House announced last night that the United States would be sending development aid to Gaza:

Washington (CNN) – The United States will contribute $400 million in development aid to the Palestinian territories and work with Israel to loosen its embargo on Gaza, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

Obama’s announcement came after White House talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The money will be used to build housing, schools, water and health care systems in both the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

Not surprisingly, this has caused some on the right to go ballistic:

This is why Americans feel deeply suspicious of President Obama and his feelings toward Israel, and by extension, America, herself.

Here’s a thought: Every dollar sent to the Gaza strip means it’s one less dollar the people there have to spend to take care of themselves. That is, they have zero incentive to stop being death-cult beasts. All their earthly gain can be funneled to the tools for war.

When America sends this savage bunch money, she participates in the arming aiding of our own enemy–of Israel’s enemy. It’s absurd.

It’s absurd unless you hate Israel. It’s absurd unless you believe America to be a bunch of terrorists, instead of a force for good in the world

This is the part I don’t get at all. I completely support the idea that Israel has the right to ensure that weapons, or material that can be used in the production of weapons or delivery systems, are not imported into a region that is ruled by a government that has declared it’s hostility to Israel. What I don’t support, and what I don’t understand how anyone can support, is preventing other items like food, medicine, or other items that have absolutely nothing to do with weaponry from entering Gaza. As I said in the title to this post — what does preventing the people of Gaza from buying Fritos and drinking Coca-Cola, to take two examples, have to do with protecting Israel ?

The answer, of course, is nothing at all.

As for the rest of the commentary above, all I can say is that the fact that Israel is an ally does not mean that we should not question them when they’re wrong and, in the case, of a blockade of Gaza that is clearly aimed at doing more than just keeping weapons out of the country, Israel is wrong.
H/T: Joe Gandelman

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Middle East, Politicians, US Politics, World Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. sam says:

    See this article, Washington Asks What to Do about Israel” and the article it references, Israel As a Strategic Liability? on the currents Israel’s actions are generating in US strategic thinking.

  2. JKB says:

    Well, it’s a blockade not an embargo. In a blockade, all non-essential supplies are denied the enemy belligerent’s territory. Food, medicine. POW packages, and other humanitarian aid, especially for women and children, are all that is required to be let in. Is it a PR problem that Israel is stopping Coke and Fritos, yes . If you’re calling them essential foodsuffs, well that goes against the Liberal food police.

    The Israelis should put conditions on such snacks. Something like “if you don’t fire missiles at our citizens for 2 weeks, you can have a Coke.” “Three weeks, an RC and a Moon Pie.”

    War sucks, especially when you suck at it. What the Palestinians are saying is “We elected a government that is continuing a warm war against Israel by firing rockets at their cities and now the Israelis are being mean to us.”

  3. sam says:

    Sorry about that last link. Try this:

    Israel as a Strategic Liability?

  4. PD Shaw says:

    The purpose of a blockade, any blockade, is to depress the economic capacity of the other side to engage in combat. That’s why the main contraband seized from the South during the Civil War was cotton, that was why the European blockades during WWI and WWII were essentially total blockades.

    The Fourth Geneva Convention attempts to reduce the hardship by requiring specifically listed materials to pass through: medicine and religious supplies. It also conditionally requires food to pass through a blockade if it can be restricted to use by children and pregnant women. The reason food passage can be restricted is that it “might reinforce the economic potential of the enemy if used for other purposes” according to the Red Cross Commentaries to Article 23. Also:

    “The paragraph stipulates that only essential foodstuffs are entitled to free passage. That should be understood to mean basic foodstuffs, necessary to the health and normal physical and mental development of the persons for whom they are intended, viz. children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. Examples are milk, flour, sugar, fats and salt.”

    Basically, the burden is on those who wish to pass materials through a blockade to demonstrate that these are basic necessities.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Israel is right on this. When a sworn enemy is lobbing rockets at you you should be able to go to war but in this case the world’s opinion keeps them from it. So they blockade Gaza to keep weapons material out for obvious reasons and also to inflict some discomfort on the enemy without inflaming the passions of the world’s fools.

    I have no sympathy for a people who want to kill rather than live in peace. Especially if the gripe is about Coke and Fritos.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    have no sympathy for a people who want to kill rather than live in peace.

    You do realize that a majority of the population of Gaza is under the age of 18, right? This is a blockade that’s taking food out of the mouths of kids. The folks who run Hamas are doing just fine.

  7. Scott says:

    If Israel is right to conduct a “blockade” to stop weapons, wouldn’t the Palestinians be justified to try and prevent weapons and bulldozing machinery from entering Israel?

  8. PD Shaw says:

    “If Israel is right to conduct a “blockade” to stop weapons, wouldn’t the Palestinians be justified to try and prevent weapons and bulldozing machinery from entering Israel?”

    Yes, they can try.

  9. Andy says:

    “This is why Americans feel deeply suspicious of President Obama and his feelings toward Israel, and by extension, America, herself.”

    I think I missed about a dozen steps in *that* logical leap. I suspect more patriotic right-wingers who are more concerned with America’s interests than Israel’s are less apoplectic.

  10. Alex, weren’t you just saying that we have to deal with the leaders they elect rather than the leaders we would like them to have? Well, the leaders they elected still lob rockets into Israel with geocidal calls for its destruction. It is indeed fortunate that so many children have to suffer, but the responsibility for that suffering is caused by their leadership (Hamas today, the PLO in the past), not Israel.

    Seriously Alex, all Hamas has to do is renounce its war against Israel, stop the genocidal paranoia and propoganda, and agree to coexist peacefully with Israel. Is that too much to ask? Then it can be Fritos and Cokes for everyone! Of course, then the Jews will be blamed for making Palestinian children fat. Sigh.

  11. John425 says:

    If Mayor Bloomberg of NYC feels it necessary to legislate against salt, who are we to complain about depriving Hamas of their Cheetos? Maybe they should forego the Cheetos-I say- let ’em eat pork rinds!!

  12. Tlaloc says:

    “have no sympathy for a people who want to kill rather than live in peace.”

    I have a fair amount of sympathy for people fighting against a militarily superior opponent that wants to exterminate them- examples include the Jews in 1940 and the Palestinians today.

    Maybe the Palestinians would be less likely to be firing rockets at Israel if Israel didn’t have a 60 year history of massacring civilians? Maybe? Just mull it over. Especially when you consider that native Jews and Arabs lived in relative peace prior to the founding of Israel.

    But as usual the response on the far right is to blame the victim.

  13. mattt says:

    See McClatchy today – even the Israeli government admits the blockade is not about weapons. It’s about “economic warfare.”

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    Alex, Nobody is going hungry in Gaza. That’s nonsense and you know it.

    Tlaloc, Israel is not trying to exterminate anybody. Another leftist fantasy. Who fires rockets at who? Who sits at the peace table and negotiates in good faith? Who wants to drive the other into the sea? The differences are clear and only the willfully blind cannot see them.

  15. Grewgills says:

    “Who fires rockets at who?”
    They both fire rockets at each other and both kill civilians.
    “Who sits at the peace table and negotiates in good faith?”
    Neither the Israelis or the Palestinians.

  16. Grewgills says:

    “Who fires rockets at who?”
    They both fire rockets at each other and both kill civilians.
    “Who sits at the peace table and negotiates in good faith?”
    Neither the Israelis (certainly not Likud) or the Palestinians.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    “Israel is right on this. When a sworn enemy is lobbing rockets at you you should be able to go to war…”

    According to that logic, the Palestinians are “right” too, as their sworn enemy is gobbling up their land…I guess they believe they should make war too…

  18. The Q says:

    What drivel here: “Seriously Alex, all Hamas has to do is renounce its war against Israel, stop the genocidal paranoia and propoganda, and agree to coexist peacefully with Israel. Is that too much to ask? ”

    If you would care to look up the history of Hamas you will see that it was funded by Israeli intelligence to undermine the PLO and Fatah.

    Look, I think we all cheered the raid on Entebbe and were solidly behind Israel in the 67 six day war and the 73 Yom Kippur war.

    However, they have seriously eroded that support by their crazed policies promulgated by a right wing fanaticism which quite rightly is criticized by our own Pentagon as undermining
    OUR (that means America’s btw) strategic interests in that region.

    So, you unpatriotic americans out there who side with Likud over our own saint Petraus, please stop undermining our troops and war effort by backing a bunch of radicals who care less about the U.S. interests in that region.

    You are helping the terrorists to win!!!! Please, can I see your birth certificates? How do I know you are really ‘Merican? and not clever infiltrators bent on the destruction of America, especially when you don’t side with the Pentagon.

  19. steve says:

    My understanding of the law, is that if they are calling this a blockade, that makes Gaza a legitimate state and Hamas fighters legitimate soldiers. Did I read the folks at OJ and Volokh correctly?

    Steve

  20. According to the WSJ this morning, it is now Hamas that is denying these newly approved foodstuffs to enter Gaza. I look forward to the condemnations of Hamas in denying Fritos and Cokes to Palestinians that we have heard with respect to Israel before.