Bloggers on Gaza and the passing of Heath Ledger.

Bloggers on Gaza and the passing of Heath Ledger.

Bloggers on Gaza and the passing of Heath Ledger.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Jan. 23 2008 6:25 PM

Let My People Shop

Bloggers weigh the news that Gazans are pouring into Egypt and mourn the death of Heath Ledger.

Let My People Shop: Thousands of Gazans have crossed into Egypt over the flattened border wall at Rafah. Since Israel closed border crossings last week and allowed only the import of emergency goods in response to rocket attacks by Hamas, Gazans come in search of fuel, food, medicine, and other necessities. The Egyptian regime, meanwhile, has allowed the mass migration, and others, including the Times of London, argue that Hamas had been secretly razing the Rafah wall for months.

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Shrink Wrapped thinks Egypt should be doing more: "[F]ew Diplomats or Media spokespeople were so impolite as to mention that it would be a trivial matter for Egypt to take over the task of distributing the West's largess to the suffering population of Gaza.  To those who might object that Israel would not allow Egypt to do so, perhaps Condoleeza Rice could remind them that as part of the current push for a 'peace process' Israel ceded the border between Gaza and Egypt to Egyptian administration.  While food, fuel, medical supplies could have easily been imported through Egypt, for political reasons both Egypt and Gaza abjured such an obvious solution."

Dr. Mona El-Farra at From Gaza, With Love writes: "[T]hanks to the Israeli occupation now after 36 hours of cut of the electricity in my flat,i will be able to wash my cloths, to have my shower, to use the electrical elevator to buy bread, my daughter can do her home work, i can watch television and loudly shout: long live Mr. Bush and israel for this big blessing electricity , in Gaza."

Flopping Aces doesn't buy the spontaneity of this cross-border migration: "The food angle initially checks out, but then we get TVs, cigarettes, car tires, etc. So how 'starving' are these people? And is it Israel's fault that Hamas is, well, Hamas? Vendors were already set up in the area. I know Arabs are fast to set up markets, but not this fast. Just the initial read pokes holes into the spontaneity of this event." 

Israellycool agrees and quotes the Times story in which a Hamas border guard admits that his group has been working on razing the wall for months: "And it seems probable that everything we've seen over the past few days - Hamas closing bakeries, shutting the fuel plant, perhaps even the rocket barrages themselves last week - were all meant to play to world opinion, create a fake 'crisis', all ultimately to force Egypt to open Rafah, something that Hamas has been trying to do for months."

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David Hazony at Commentary's contentions worries about Egypt's role as a helpmeet to Hamas: "[N]ow Egypt, in order to distance itself from the Israeli blockade and show its humanitarian feathers, risks making itself a direct accomplice to the arming of terrorists. This follows just a few weeks after it capitulated to Palestinian demands, against its promises to Israel, to let several thousand Palestinians cross back into Gaza through the security-lax, Egypt-bordered Rafah crossing, rather than go through a more rigorous weapons check at the Israel-bordered Kisufim."

Meryl Yourish adds: "It wouldn't be the first time that the Palestinians were sacrificing the welfare of their population for the opportunity to attack Israel. Last year they were digging up sewage pipes to make Qassams regardless of the sanitation nightmare that it would cause."

Lawhawk asks how an international border can be transgressed with nary a protest from either state, then suggests: "Of course, you can also say that this simply reestablishes the longstanding relationship between Gaza and Egypt. Let Gaza be Egypt's problem, just as it was before 1967. Back then, these Palestinians weren't Palestinians but Egyptians. Funny how times change. Egypt wanted nothing to do with Gaza in 1979 when Israel offered to hand it back to Egypt at Camp David. Imagine that. No one wants to deal with the Gazans, who are radicalized and have no interest in peace."

Read more about the Gazan flight to Egypt.

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Missing Ledger: Actor Heath Ledger, 28, died Tuesday in his Lower East Side New York apartment in circumstances that are still unresolved. Bloggers mourn the passing of the promising young talent, best known for his turn as a gay cowboy—until, that is, he out-Jokers Jack Nicholson in the new Batmanmovie due out this summer.

New York magazine's Vulture blog believes Ledger will be remembered for Brokeback Mountain: "[I]n a way that role was the logical extension of his performance in Monster's Ball. Ennis Del Mar wasn't too weak for the world — he was too strong for it, too bloody-minded and stubborn to allow himself happiness with the man he loves. But in choosing the role, with its subversion of Hollywood leading-man tropes, and in playing it ferociously, Ledger showed he was still the courageous actor who put a gun to his own head four years before, doing his best to blow away the career Hollywood wanted to make for him."

Sheila at Gawker gets a little wistful: "It's conventional wisdom that, by dying young, you at least get to stay pretty. Lots of stars burned out too fast: from Heath to Jimi, Janis and John Belushi, River Phoenix, Kurt, Anna Nicole. The consolation prize of an early death is that you get to avoid the indignities of age. … These days, there's more and more information available surrounding the event of a famous death. Gurney shots, crime scene photographs—this is the kind of gristle previously only seen by forensics and hardened cops. We're all amateur detectives now, for reasons we have a hard time pinpointing."

Gary Susman at Entertainment Weekly's PopWatchBlog says: "After Brokeback, Ledger's characters began to take a darker turn. There was the drug-addiction drama Candy, which I fear I'll never be able to watch again without cringing, and his forthcoming turn as a bedraggled, scary-looking Joker in this summer's Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. I'm sure no one will be able to watch that one either without seeing unintended ironies and eerie portents of doom."

Noting that crowds have formed outside Ledger's Manhattan apartment, Sonia Zjawinski at Wired's Underwire writes that the state of our postmodern culture is tied to new technology: "Rubbernecking is a common reaction to tragedy, but this obsession with becoming a part of the story has increased since blogging and phonecams came into the picture. Citizen journalism is as much about embedding yourself in the news as it's about passing along the information."

Read more about Ledger's death.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.