Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aid Flotillas: Save Haiti from a cholera outbreak, not Hamas from itself

Recently, Sean Penn was on the CNN news magazine program, AC360. Penn was on television to raise awareness for a cholera outbreak that has rapidly been spreading across earthquake-torn Haiti. To date, over 250 Haitians have been killed and 3,100 people have been sickened by the disease.

It is worth noting, that at this time the outbreak is still approximately 60 miles north of the capital of Port-Au-Prince – an extremely densely populated city with very poor water filtration. When cholera shows up there, the numbers of dead will skyrocket. It is also worth noting, that this kind of nightmare happens on a daily basis with little to no reaction from people who refer to themselves as "liberals" or progressives. So this kind of apathy is less than surprising.

But in Haiti we have a developing situation is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis – and it has all the makings of a humanitarian disaster.

Furthermore, as of this month, not even one cent of the United-States-pledged $1.15 billion that was supposed to help rebuild Haitian infrastructure (like water treatment plants that would prevent cholera contamination for example) has been spent.

But you probably didn’t even know this was a problem, did you? Foreign aid news seems to be dominated by speculation on when the next Gaza flotilla is going to try to force an unnecessary provocation with the Israeli Navy. Doubtless you have heard how there is a terrible “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza that needs to be solved with another dramatic confrontation with Israeli naval commandos.

However, if you type in disease outbreak gaza into a google search – the first response* talks about Haiti. Type in died of hunger gaza into a google search and the second response (the first hit is a link to the tragic death of two zebras in a Gaza zoo) is a link to the following quote from June 5, 2010 - less than a week after the initial flotilla incident:
"There is no starvation in Gaza," said Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas's ministry of justice. "No-one has died of hunger."
The esteemed Mr. Hamada’s statements are indeed grounded in fact.

With a population of 1.5 million people, Gaza receives approximately 16,000 tons of food aid per month. This means that if every individual living in territory received an equal share of the food aid allocation, they would receive about 16 pounds of free food every month.

Every single day, dozens of trucks that are full of foreign aid (including aid that is donated by Israelis) stream across the Gaza border crossings with the full assistance of the Israeli military.

This in itself should negate the mythical need for these needlessly provocative flotillas – but let’s take a look if these numbers even make sense.

Gaza is among the top 10 recipients of foreign food aid. Its closest neighbors in food benefits are Zimbabwe (17,000 tons of food), Somalia (19,000) and Afghanistan (19,000). On the surface this would appear to make sense since all of these places have rather serious poverty issues, right? Or worse, Gaza aid is even lagging behind! Hurry up and send another flotilla? Not so fast...

Here are some particularly relevant population statistics on those other countries:

Zimbabwe: 11.4 million people, Somalia: 9.8 million, Afghanistan: 28.4 million.

Source: CIA Factbook

This means that the average person living in Zimbabwe has access to less than three pounds of food per month, the average Somalian gets less than four pounds and the average Afghani must find some way to get by on a staggering 1.33 pounds of food. PER MONTH. Or to put it another way...

The average Gazan receives over 12,000% more food aid than the average Afghani.

Is this fair? Is this justice? And when you think of the scope of the tragedies that take place in these countries, the injustice of the situation becomes even clearer. Lest you think that these are just arbitrary numbers that have no correlation to the actual reality on the ground, check out the average life expectancy for these countries:

Zimbabwe: 45.8 years, Somalia: 49.6 years, Afghanistan: 44.4 years.

What is Gaza’s life expectancy? 73.4 years. For even more contrast, the life expectancy in Haiti (even prior to the disastrous earthquake) is only 60.8 years.

Want more contrasts? Check out some of the other countries whose life expectancies are WORSE than Gaza's:

The Philippines
The Bahamas

That's right, the life expectancy in the tourist paradise of the Bahamas is 69.9 - a full three and a half years WORSE than in the "besieged" Gaza Strip.

Free the Bahamas! Save Atlantis! Oh wait, it might be a little late for that...

And how about little irony thrown into the mix? The chief antagonist against Israel and organizer of these flotillas has been the NATO-member and recent EU-reject - Turkey. Guess where they rank in the life expectancy game? 71.9 years.

Well, luckily for Turkey they are better off than the hopelessly oppressed people of the Bahamas but still BELOW the elite fatcats of Gaza. Maybe the Turks should put the fire out in their own backyard before looking to start fires elsewhere?

Source: CIA Factbook

Or at least they could look to help people that are worse off than them, like the Haitians - who as we've already established are about to deal with an imminent health catastrophe.

To make it crystal clear: HAITI is in a state of EMERGENCY - GAZA is NOT.

Furthermore Haiti is not currently governed by Hamas, a group that is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Nor does the Haitian government make a habit of hijacking foreign aid shipments, selling them on the black market and then using the money to buy weapons that will be fired indiscriminately into civilian population centers, used to infringe on the rights of women and conduct violent purges of political enemies – as Hamas has a proven track record of doing.

So perhaps another flotilla IS in order...

However, the destination should not be Gaza where at best it will only be used for political purposes and at worst will actually be used to further oppress the very people it claims to want to help. Instead, let's send a flotilla to the perpetually tragic population of Haiti (or Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, etc) where the situation is truly dire and the people have been neglected for decades.

To focus our attention on Hamas propaganda at their expense and continue dumping aid to people whose own "leaders" say don't need it, would be an injustice of the highest order. And we will have no one but ourselves to blame for the results.

For information on donating to Haitian relief efforts (and others) click here.

*UPDATE: As of now this blog entry is actually the first response on google.


That's what I think...what's YOUR reaction?

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Miriam said...

I think you're brilliant. This is something worth pushing for.

where do you get news that there is a new flotilla being readied to go from America to gaza?

Miriam said...

Is the flotilla funded by the US government?

RonMossad said...

Thank you Miriam! I appreciate for how I know about this, didn't you know that the Mossad has eyes and ears everywhere?? ;)

Here's the website for the American ship - named "The Audacity of Hope"

And no, I do not believe the American government would participate in something like this. It's a grass-roots thing that private people are funding.

Which as we have seen in the above article it a COMPLETE waste of time...

The All Real Numbers Symbol said...

Sorry for the delay. I tried to get down here this morning, but I had homework.

Cholera outbreak... cholera outbreak... I heard about that on the radio, then I heard about it down here on your blog. I hadn't heard they were sending ANOTHER flotilla to Gaza, though. they're calling the ship 'Audacity of Hope,' eh? That name sounds familiar. (But far be it from me to say the ones sending this flotilla are Obama's associates.)

Haiti... I've some mixed feelings about that, place, but I have othetr things that I need to work on, so I'll close for now.

Paul said...

Dude, I'm still disgusted when I first heard about this. I mean, I thought Gazans at least deserved all the aid they got, despite being at war with Israel [they are people, after all].

But then I was directed to a news article that showed a Gazan food market literally overflowing with produce... Starvation? What a load of bull.

And they're sending YET ANOTHER flotilla, just for a chance to provoke and condemn Israel? Wow. That is just great.

RonMossad said...

Hey TARNS would love to hear what you have to say about Haiti.

On the Obama-connection to the new boat, I'm not going to go so far as to say his "associates" are sending it, but the people are certainly his supporters. It just goes to show why his "strategy" of apologizing is a waste of time.

But even giving him the benefit of the doubt...let's say whatever his personal feelings are, he recognizes the value that Israel brings to America:

1. His policies are detrimental to that relationship

2. His SUPPORTERS - who skew much more heavily to the anti-Israel team - do not see a break between his views and their own.

It's number TWO that is most disturbing. You'd never see a flotilla boat named after Geroge W. Bush - or if you did it would be clear that it was an insult to him. I think it's safe to say that these people actually draw INSPIRATION from the president of the United States for their actions...which coincidentally are pro-terrorism.

And THAT my friends, is the most disturbing thought of all.

RonMossad said...

Hi Paul and welcome to the show.

Unfortunately, it's even worse than you think.

Check out this post from back during the Gaza war of 2009. Specifically the graphic that I have up in the "Disproportionate Force" section...

If you follow the link right under it, you'll see a Middle East Quarterly article from just before the hostilities that showed a pretty direct correlation between budgetary aid and Palestinian homicides as well as budgetary aid and Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Here is a particularly relevant statement from that article:

An examination of key measures of violence reveals a troublesome correlation between the number of homicides committed by Palestinians and the level of funding provided to the Palestinian Authority. As aid to the Palestinian government increased, there was a corresponding increase in the number of people, BOTH ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN, killed by Palestinians.

(emphasis added by me)

So as more money comes in for "aid" not only do Palestinians kill MORE Israelis (breaking the myth that it's just about poor VS rich) but they kill more PALESTINIANS.

These flotillas are not only a COMPLETE waste of time, they actually contribute to MORE destruction - on BOTH sides.

The All Real Numbers Symbol said...

Yo! I have some free time today (For the most part I don't do any homework on Sunday) so I can tell you a bit now about my mixed-up feeling for Haiti.

First, about Obama's approach to American/Israeli relation, well, that makes sense. If there's a good relationship, then of course Odummer's gonna wanna destroy it. If it's good for America, then he's against it.

As for Haiti, well, I could be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but here is what I think.

I don't think that anyone in Haiti was very well off before the earthquake hit. I don't know if it was a third-world country, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. Thier 'president' appeared to be little more than a dictator (he lived in a palace for cryin' out loud!) I am of the suspicion that the haitian president will abscond with a bunch of that aid money to use to his own ends.

After the Earthquake, when moeny and supplies were coming into the country, some moron - either a member of the U.N. or some leader in Haiti, if I'm not mistaken - complained that aid wasn't coming fast enough. That irritated me a lot. Thousands of jobless Americans are giving to you out of the goodness of thier hearts and your response is to whine that we're not working fast enough?!

Um... those are my major concerns/complaints, anyway. I'm not sure what it all comes to when it's all added together, or if it's even all correct, but something about Haiti just doesn't sit right with me.

Or maybe I just despise dictators.

SkinneeJay said...

That was a kick in the ass.

I don't know what to say. Gaza is in a pretty good shape - ESPECIALLY for a "besieged" country. When I think of countries in crisis, I think of Africa. Gaza seems like not a place for tourism but not exactly a Hell On Earth.


I heard them Juice be takin' body parts from Haitians, accorindg to some prog/essive sources.

Don't forget me boye!