Friday, January 16

The Gaza Riviera and What Might Have Been

Sderot billboard: "Who's next in the lottery?" sits above "Eli's steakiya," and across the street from the beleaguered town's City Hall - also the target of hundreds of Kassam rocket strikes. The red words between the Coke caps: "Lucky corner." Eh... maybe not so much. (Photo: Dave Bender)

David Suissa is an LA PR maven, who also happens to be pretty credible teacher and commentator on the Jewish mysticism front.

Here's a sad "parallel history" musing, about what might have been the future of the Gaza Strip, had the Palestinians taken the high road after Israel's pullout in 2005:
"...the other day, as my mind was numb from yet another report from the Gaza war zone, I saw something that made me go off on a wild dream. It started with the sight of two Israeli soldiers as they drove into Gaza in an armored personnel carrier, and as I watched the soldiers, I recalled how much Israelis love to go to the beach.

"As if I was hallucinating, I then imagined the same two soldiers in their beach clothes, in a convertible roadster, with a surf board sticking out and the music blasting, and instead of going to war, they were going to meet their buddies for a day of partying on the beach.

"They were going to the jetsetters' newest fun spot: the Gaza Riviera.

"By now, my mind was losing control. Images started flooding in. I saw this fabulous strip of hotels and casinos right by a sparkling ocean. I imagined thousands of proud Palestinians working with smiles on their faces to serve the thousands of tourists from around the world who were coming to their little strip of ocean paradise.

"Behind this paradise, I saw a bustling economy, where the highest quality produce was grown and exported; where entrepreneurs built software companies, banks and advertising agencies; where a university attracted students from around the world; where local culture and the arts thrived; and where you could take the Orient Express train to Beirut, Cairo and, yes, even Tel Aviv.

But that would have assumed they ever stop missing a chance to miss a chance.

This, by the way, is no idle wishful thinking. The average Israeli is "game" in more ways than one (sorry) to work and fork over millions of dollars into Palestinian coffers, both for goodwill, and for a "normative" life.

Not that I personally supported the venture - financially or ideologically - but the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government did. So the PA opened and ran the Oasis Casino in Jericho (yes, THAT Jericho, where the dice were to have been tumblin' down, instead of walls) - until, of course, the bloodlust for dead Jews got the better of them:
"The Oasis Casino, which sometimes had a daily turnover of close to a million dollars, was built in Jericho after the signing of the Oslo Accords, over ten years ago. In 1999, it made a profit of $54 million from the close to 2,900 people who visited the casino daily - 99% of them Israelis.

"The casino shut down in late 2000, a month after the PA started the Oslo War, after its roof was used for terrorist gunfire attacks at Israeli targets. The building was heavily damaged by Israeli retaliatory fire, and though it was later refurbished, it has never re-opened.

Here's a WaPo travel article on the place.

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