Guardian editor’s note to Live Gaza Blog: Palestinian ‘Refugees’ yesterday, today & forever

The Guardian  Gaza Live Blog of June 8th included an editor’s note explaining the rationale for the blog and providing answers to likely reader questions. I’ll fisk a couple of their explanations, but I find that their opening photo itself requires a brief commentary.

It would be so easy for the casual observer to by-pass this passage in the wink of an eye. Wonderful imagery: in bucolic Palestine, a woman is seen proudly baking pita at a bakery in the time-honored manner.

In the Guardian, Palestinian women in Gaza are inevitably portrayed as such: innocent, simple, traditional, respectful.

Here’s an alternative photo from the same “Refugee Camp” the Guardian would never consider.

This photo, taken on January 14th, 2010, shows Palestinian women taking a class in Islam at the same Rafah “Refugee Camp” in Gaza. The class happens to be run by a Gaza movement which follows Salafi Islam (an extreme sect even by Islamist standards), which is gaining ground in the Middle East. 

But of course such a photo might cause readers to reflect upon the Guardian’s desired narrative.

The larger point however, and the reason I placed the caption’s description of the Gaza town in quotation marks, relates to the fact that these Palestinian women – residents of an independent, Palestinian-controlled polity, free of Jews or any hint of Israeli presence – are still – in the eyes of UNRWA, the Guardian and much of the mainstream media – refugees!

The Rafah camp, established in 1949, was, per UNRWA, “originally home to 41,000 refugees who had fled from the hostilities of the 1948 war, [but] now home to more than 104,000 refugees”. 

Indeed, according to UNRWA’s own statistics (scroll down to chart on this page) approximately 90% of the camp’s population was born after the 1948 war. So the percentage of Palestinians living in Rafah who actually were alive during the 1948 war is roughly 10% and dwindling. 

At some point in the not too distant future Rafah will be completely void of anyone who was alive during the war.

Yet – by the convoluted logic which informs the surreal refugee swindle – their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, ad infinitum will continue to be characterized, by moral inference, as victims of Israeli oppression. 

It was just one throw away line in a caption to introduce only one story about Gaza in the Guardian, but it speaks volumes about the acquiescence by Guardian reporters and editors to even the most specious Palestinian claims.   

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