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December 6, 2011
Gaza thrives amid a mainstream-media cover-up
Did you know that work is under way in the Gaza Strip on construction or rehabilitation of 57 new schools and kindergartens? Or that thousands of Gazans have crossed the border for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals? Or that Gaza's gross domestic product has increased more than 30 percent over last year, and its jobless rate is the lowest recorded in the past 10 years?
Certainly not, if you rely only on the New York Times, the Washington Post and other mainstream media for what they consider Mideast "news." Their story line, which has become a matter of indelible journalistic faith, is that Gazans, cut off from the world by an Israeli siege, are mired in abject poverty and utter deprivation.
Gaza's reality is quite different. Yes, Hamas rule has snuffed out individual rights and democratic freedom. And yes, Israel has to strive mightily to prevent harm to Gaza's civilian population while protecting its own citizens against rocket barrages from Gaza. But average Gazans nevertheless are getting more jobs, making more money, and enjoying an overall rise in living standards, thanks to benign Israeli policies.
Here, gleaned from the latest Israeli statistical survey of life in Gaza, are some newsworthy nuggets you won't find in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post:
--During the first nine months of this year, an average of 4,497 truckloads, laden with a vast array of foodstuffs and other supplies, entered the Gaza Strip every month from Israel - nearly double as many as in the comparable period last year.
--Going in the other direction are agricultural goods and textiles, moving from Gaza to Israel and thence into global trade channels.
--Scores of construction projects reflect a booming building industry, with nearly 2,000 new housing units, an upgrade of six hospitals and construction or modernization of seven new clinics.
--More than two dozen waste water and sewage treatment plants are in the offing, with half a dozen already completed.
--Every day, 100 business people cross from Gaza into Israel. Gazans also are able to leave the Strip to visit religious sites in Israel and abroad.
--Water and electricity are more readily available with expanding supplies from Israel, including equipment to upgrade power stations
--Gaza's construction sector is booming, as Israel has relaxed restrictions on building materials despite risks of their diversion to Hamas. Construction accounts for nearly half of the rise in Gaza's GDP.
The New York Times boasts that it publishes ''all the news that's fit to print." Not when it comes to Gaza, it doesn't.
And incidentally, when in the course of human history, has one nation -- during wartime -- dealt as magnanimously with its enemy as Israel has with Gaza?
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.
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