Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lauren Booth can't tell the difference between a concentration camp or famine and a well-stocked grocery store

Contentious Centrist: Lauren Booth's Concentration Camp Chic

UPDATE (Friday lunchtime):
Lauren Booth's actions have dramatically backfired. Her claim that Gaza is one big concentration camp or as bad as Darfur rings hollow when she is photographed buying a Snickers bar in a well-stocked shop. Some of the commentary: "not even a useful idiot", "because everyone needs a little 3 o'clock pick-me-up when you are trying to rescue the oppressed!", "yes we have no Hamas...er Hummus", "the shelves were not quite so well-stocked as Bergen-Belsen".

It also appears that she is being economical with the truth about her forced stay in Gaza. Lisa Goldman writes:
In an interview with PJM, Ms. Booth says she has tried three times to leave Gaza — once via Erez Checkpoint, which leads into Israel, and twice via the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. She was turned away by both the Israelis and the Egyptians, but told me she holds Israel solely responsible for her predicament. I pointed out that both a senior IDF spokesman and several well-informed Palestinian journalists confirmed that Israel has “zero control” over who crosses the Rafah border. In other words, perhaps Egypt was at least as responsible as Israel for forcing her to remain in Gaza. This elicited an angrily dismissive response from Ms. Booth, who claimed that “high up sources told her” that Israel is pressuring Egypt into keeping her trapped in Gaza. She would not reveal the source of her information, nor did she explain how it would serve Israel to have her stay indefinitely in Gaza.

The Egyptians have controlled the Rafah border, keeping it mostly sealed, since Hamas took power in June 2007, following a bloody civil war with rival Fatah. EUBAM-Rafah (European Union Border Assistance Mission) pulled its multi-national monitoring staff out of Gaza immediately after Fatah was routed, in accordance with the EU’s policy of no contact with Hamas. A skeleton staff of 18 remains “on standby” in the Israeli town of Ashkelon. Spokeswoman Maria Telleria said that the EU is “not involved in Rafah border decision in any way right now.” According to Ms. Telleria, the Egyptians have opened the border crossing 60 times since June 2007. Most recently, Egypt’s President Mubarak ordered the border open over the two days preceding Ramadan, which is when Ms. Booth tried to cross and was turned back.
(Read the rest of this excellent report, from an Israeli leftist who opposes the blockade of Gaza.)

But, as they say, a lie is half-way around the world before the truth gets its shoes on - and, in the age of the internet, the velocity of lies seems to have increased.

More blog links: Footprints: Weather Changing, Fred Stopsky, Jewlicious, Elder of Ziyon

Previous:
Tony or Lauren?, Cavorting
Keywords: Lauren Booth, Gaza.

5 comments:

Sue Luxton said...

Naff comment from Lauren Booth, but Contentious Centralist doesn't really deal with the claim that Israel isn't letting her leave Gaza. According to the Telegraph (not my usual choice of paper you understand!) this is the case. I think if I was a Palestinian living in Gaza not able to leave, it would feel like being in a prison camp at times (not a concentration camp, I agree), but pretty shit and restrictive all the same. Wouldn't you agree?

The Contentious Centrist said...

Sue Luxton:

A reminder: Gaza has borders with both Israel and Egypt.

If Booth had coordinated beforehand her exit visa in the proper channels with Israeli authorities, she would not have got stuck like that. She probably thought her British passport and her family connections and her big mouth would be enough to grant her previliges denied to ordinary Palestinians. She found reality a lot more complicated than her simple-minded fairy tale version of the I/P conflict. She walked into this situation with her eyes wide open. Let her enjoy the fruits of her "humanitarian" work.

I'm not a centralist. I'm a centrist. Of sorts.

bob said...

I was struck by this quote in the Telegraph:
'Ms Booth said yesterday she was anxious to get back to her two young children, aged five and seven, in the UK although the next "peace boat" is not due in Gaza for another three weeks. "That is a pretty long time for my kids to wait," she said.'

If you have kids aged five and seven, is playing gesture politics that have little practical effect the best use of your time?

Also, "Ms Booth was twice barred from leaving via Rafah". I may be wrong, but in my understanding Israel has no control over Rafah at all: the Eygptians must have refused to let her in.

More on this later, hopefully

bob said...

Just started writing a long comment, but will update the post instead

bob said...

Incidentally, Sue, I notice your colleagues Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, campaigning for the safety of Booth, are correctly lobbying the Egyptian authorities. Even Derek Wall manages to share the blame between Israel and Egypt ("politically motivated decisions on the part of the Egyptian and Israeli government appears to be intended to punish the participants in the Free Gaza Movement for lawfully bypassing Israeli and Egyptian restrictions, restrictions that make travel to and from Gaza virtually impossible").

It is also worth noting that Lauren thanked Galloway on Press TV for not using the word "prison" and for using "concentration camp".

But, yes, I agree that, although the Hamas leadership, and those who voted for it, must take some of the blame for the blockade, it would be hellish to live under it, it might feel like a prison camp. However, there is a major moral distinction between such a situation and either the "slow motion genocide" we are allowing to happen in Darfur, or the genocide we allowed to happen in Nazi Germany.