Letter: Writer whiffs on the facts

“The truth is easy to find if you bother to look for it,” concludes Sue Gray in her letter that states departing Israeli settlers destroyed the greenhouses in 2005 (“Pro-Israel writers don’t have the facts,” Sept. 8, The Aspen Times).

Nothing could be further from the truth, and Gray does a disservice both to herself and to the Gazans by submitting such blatantly false information.

From The Associated Press and NBC news in July 2005:

“NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip — Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.

American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash.

Palestinian police stood by Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements. In some instances, police even joined the looters, witnesses said. ‘We’ve tried to stop as many people as we can, but they’re like locusts.’

The failure of the security forces to prevent scavenging and looting in the settlements after Israel’s troop pullout Monday raised new concerns about Gaza’s future.

‘We are not going to tolerate chaos,’ Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told his people in a televised speech Tuesday that he would take immediate steps to impose order.

As Abbas spoke, hundreds of masked Hamas gunmen wielding rifles and grenade launchers paraded through the streets of a nearby refugee camp.”

Interestingly, Gray omitted this from her cited New York Times article:

“JERUSALEM, July 14, 2005 — About half the greenhouses in the Israeli settlements in Gaza have already been dismantled by their owners, who have given up waiting to see if the government was going to come up with extra payment as an inducement to leave them behind, say senior officials working on the coordination of this summer’s Israeli pullout from Gaza.”

As a wordsmith, I am keenly aware of the difference between “destruction” and “dismantle” as well as the semantics denoting “total” and “partial.”

I will be posting photos of the greenhouses, before and after the vandalism and looting by Gazans, on my Facebook page.

As an interesting postscript, today Abbas threatens to dissolve the new unity government if Hamas does not cede its power in the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ ill-advised war with Israel has resulted in thousands of Gazans dead and wounded as well as tens of billions of dollars of shattered infrastructure that will take an estimated 20 years to rebuild.

The real tragedy of the loss of all those greenhouses, bought for them through American generosity, is that they didn’t inspire the Gazans to look beyond their own continuing history of spiraling hatred, conflict and failure.

Tracy Wynn