Living in Glass Houses
August 15, 2005 2:56 AM   Subscribe

A private foundation is investing $14m to purchase greenhouses in Gaza. Israeli settlers had originally planned to demolish their greenhouses instead of seeing them handed over to Palestinian farmers. Under a deal brokered by former World Bank President James Wolfensohn 80% of Gaza's greenhouses will be preserved and turned over to Palestinian management. It is, of course, a trap for the Palestinian Authority. The greenhouses are simply the most visible part of a supply chain that the Palestinians cannot possibly manage. Without agricultural knowledge, market expertise, water management skills, good roads, and all the other infrastructure of a modern state, the greenhouses will fail spectacularly. The Palestinian Authority will be exposed as incompetent and unable to run even a simple enterprise. This will cast doubt amongst Palestinians about the practicality of an independent Palestine.
posted by three blind mice (63 comments total)
 
Seems a bit to much of a conspiracy for a bunch of glass sheds... I'm not sure the palestinian people will really get to upset about it all, they probably just want to have jobs, basic infrastructure and the possibility of thier homes not being bulldosed for a couple of days....

I imagine the wider world won't really see it as much of a failure either if they manage to get lager enterprises working well.
posted by Meccabilly at 3:12 AM on August 15, 2005


Mmm.... lager enterprises...
posted by klaatu at 3:34 AM on August 15, 2005


Without agricultural knowledge, market expertise, water management skills, good roads, and all the other infrastructure of a modern state, the greenhouses will fail spectacularly.

Doesn't this imply that the palestinians are thick as two short planks and will be unable to ever attain the knowledge needed to manage greenhouses?
posted by slater at 3:42 AM on August 15, 2005


"It is, of course, a trap for the Palestinian Authority. The greenhouses are simply the most visible part of a supply chain that the Palestinians cannot possibly manage. Without agricultural knowledge, market expertise, water management skills, good roads, and all the other infrastructure of a modern state, the greenhouses will fail spectacularly. The Palestinian Authority will be exposed as incompetent and unable to run even a simple enterprise."
How is this a "trap"? The Palestinian Authority managed to establish its incompetence and corruption just fine without Israeli help during the years of the Oslo accords, and what would be a surprise is if that record were to change all of a sudden. Why do you think Hamas got so popular in the first place, other than by providing a more competent welfare alternative to Arafat's crooks and bumblers?

Gaza will descend into chaos, but it won't be any more because of some devious conspiracy on Israel's part than Zimbabwe's current chaos is the handiwork of Anglo-American plotters: the fault lies not in their "enemies", but in the natures of their rulers (and also the ruled who display such bad judgment in picking their leaders).
posted by Goedel at 3:44 AM on August 15, 2005


Goedel sounds about right to me
posted by Meccabilly at 3:53 AM on August 15, 2005


Gaza will descend into chaos, but it won't be any more because of some devious conspiracy on Israel's part than Zimbabwe's current chaos is the handiwork of Anglo-American plotters: the fault lies not in their "enemies", but in the natures of their rulers (and also the ruled who display such bad judgment in picking their leaders).

No dispute about this, Goedel. Failure of the greenhouses will provide tangible, undeniable proof of the inabililty of the PA to run an independent state.

There can be no doubt that the PA would have been better served if the settlers demolished them. Wolfensohn and friends didn't let this happen. Hence the "trap." For a mere $14m investment it will become harder for the Palestinians to deny that the fault lies not in their "enemies", but in the natures of their rulers (and also the ruled who display such bad judgment in picking their leaders).
posted by three blind mice at 4:16 AM on August 15, 2005


I call bullshit on the trap comment. The palestinians have been farming there for hundreds if not thousands of years. They have plenty of experience.

Your "that's why you can't have nice toys" argument reeks of elitist manure.
posted by furtive at 4:20 AM on August 15, 2005


The palestinians have been farming there for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Yeah right furtive. The "success" of traditional farming is not much of an explanation for why the Israelis invested in constructing greenhouses. Those greenhouses produce flowers and herbs that contribute $100m in export income.

It is not elitist manure to observe that the business of greenhouse agriculture is nothing at all like traditional farming practices. It is a modern business requiring modern skills. Comparing the farmer who sells melons to his neighbors to the guy who manages an international export business is the realistic comparison.
posted by three blind mice at 4:33 AM on August 15, 2005


According to the BBC, the greenhouses have been run using Palestinian labor all along, so agricultural expertise should not be a problem.

What will be a problem is that the greenhouses did not turn a profit and required government subsidies to operate.
posted by Jatayu das at 5:30 AM on August 15, 2005


Comparing the farmer who sells melons to his neighbors to the guy who manages an international export business is the realistic comparison.

Is it really? The main concern for Palestinians at the moment is not the export market but their own people. I'm not an economist nor a business man so I won't get sucked into an argument over whether the palestinians would be better served with an export economy or by a self-sustainability economy, but considering the firm grip that Israel holds over anything that goes in and out of Gaza or the West Bank I think think it would be ludicrous for the Palestinians to put even more of the little autonomy they might yield at the mercy of the Israelis.

I think you set the bar too high. You expect all ($100m export income) or nothing (better served by bulldozing the greenhouses). What about the middle ground (employment for the massively unemployed, food for those who can hardly afford it). It's your extremism that I call bullshit on.
posted by furtive at 5:30 AM on August 15, 2005


They could grow tomatoes, they're not too hard to grow in a greenhouse.
posted by kuatto at 5:30 AM on August 15, 2005


I'm not disputing the foreseen outcome here, but I'm not so sure this is a trap. There are plenty of idealists out there who honestly believe that if given the opportunity, the PA will able to effectively govern.

If the failure of the PA in Gaza does expose it as the corrupt and useless organisation it is, as well as the true primary source of Palestinian woe, it is entirely conceivable that the PA will be swept out, and Hamas will find itself in the unenviable position of administrating Gaza.

If this happens, it may not be the shitstorm many foresee. After all, the PA was once the PLO. Of course, not all terrorists are the same, and Arab nationalism may prove to be a more flexible ideology than religious fundamentalism; however in this scenario, the plain facts of the situation will force Hamas into a pragmatic and administrative role. With no infidel occupier to fight, Hamas can only survive if it can succeed where the PA has failed. The alternative may prove to be more chaos and near total power vacuum. In short, a failed state.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:39 AM on August 15, 2005



Think Zimbabwe.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:42 AM on August 15, 2005


kuatto: They could grow tons of stuff, but that's not three blind mice's point. His point (editorialized on the FPP and not supported by any link), is that the Palestinians would be better served by having the greenhouses bulldozed since they wouldn't be used effectively as the Israelis who have owned them for the past 35 years. Heaven forbid the Palestinians might obtain any benefit from them at all.
posted by furtive at 5:45 AM on August 15, 2005


Wait a minute. Is there any scenerio here where Israel/the West isn't seen as evil? If they destroy the greenhouses, they're assholes for not leaving perfectly good stuff for the Palestinians to use. If they leave the greenhouses, they're apparently engaging in some kind of nefarious plot.
posted by unreason at 5:55 AM on August 15, 2005


Troll.

That aside, you have to be one hell of conspiracy believer to accept the premises of this post.

The Economic Cooperation Foundation, through which this investment is being made, was founded in 1990. Among other things, it was instrumental in bringing about the Oslo talks. Its mission is "to build, maintain and support Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab cooperation in the political, economic and civil society spheres. The ECF acts as a facilitator, initiator, catalyst and implementer in a number of health and social welfare related projects, bringing the partners together and helping with proposal writing, fund raising, permit arrangement and other technical matters."

According to the NYTimes: (req. req.) "Even without an agreement, the Palestinians would receive the greenhouses, but the deal should discourage the Gaza farmers from inflicting any last-minute damage to the properties before they leave. With time running out, the international envoy who is handling civil affairs related to the Israeli withdrawal, James Wolfensohn, stepped in. He helped break the impasse by working to arrange private funding from wealthy Americans." Further, about 3,500 Palestinians were working in the greenhouses.

The folks putting up this dough have good reasons for wanting to make it work, and will back the money up with technical assistance. If the project fails, it will reflect far worse on the Economic Cooperation Foundation than on the Palestinian Authority.
posted by beagle at 5:57 AM on August 15, 2005


Wha...? The second half of this post makes no sense. You know... the part after the part with the facts.

It is, of course, a trap for the Palestinian Authority. The greenhouses are simply the most visible part of a supply chain that the Palestinians cannot possibly manage.

Why not?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:58 AM on August 15, 2005


Is this kinda like how the black man will never be able to learn how to read, so we shouldn't bother giving them books?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2005


No, tell us what you REALLY think about the PA, Three Blind Mice. I'm having trouble finding your opinion in this storm of facts.
posted by klangklangston at 6:07 AM on August 15, 2005


I've read that Palestinians aren't allowed nearly as much water as Isrealis. So where a Jewish settler might have been able to keep the green house, an Arab might not be able to do likewise.
posted by Clay201 at 6:11 AM on August 15, 2005


This is a terrible post, as C_D and others said. Keep your fucking editorializing out of it, especially if you're going to "support" it with completely irrelevant links (agricultural knowledge, water management skills).
posted by languagehat at 6:14 AM on August 15, 2005


[expletive deleted] writes "it is entirely conceivable that the PA will be swept out, and Hamas will find itself in the unenviable position of administrating Gaza."

Unenviable as it may be, I do believe that Hamas has been the organization there that has built and operated schools and hospitals in PA areas already, no?
posted by clevershark at 6:15 AM on August 15, 2005


I know this sounds weird, but where did the theory of a "trap" come from? There's no link that proposes any such conspiracy. And why would the former cheif of the worldbank use $500,000 of his own money to showcase palestinian incompetence (As an aside, that's debatable. It's pretty hard to build functioning businesses when your workers and customers are under constant physical threat, and when Israel could (and does) close checkpoints all the time, causing disruption in raw materials, labor, and finished goods.) ? I mean, he's got an MBA and a long career in finance / econ. It's true that he does not have a PhD in economics, but it's hard to imagine that this guy is going to put up 500 large to prove a point. Maybe he thinks he's getting in on the ground floor of some soon-to-be-sweet near beachfront property?
posted by zpousman at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2005


If TBM wants to say that Palestinian are complete twits unable to run any industry or care for themselves, he should just say that, and we'd debate that statement.
posted by clevershark at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2005


three blind mice, see how they run. This guy is a troll, just trying to stir up racist hatred (of both Jews and Palestinians) for his own sick humor. People like him should be shot.

Well, maybe not shot - I don't approve of the death penalty - but they should probably be banned from access to the Internet or anywhere else where they can stir up race hatred.
posted by cleardawn at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2005




Well, maybe not shot - I don't approve of the death penalty - but they should probably be banned from access to the Internet or anywhere else where they can stir up race hatred.

And people claim that three blind mice is trolling?
posted by Kwantsar at 6:29 AM on August 15, 2005


if there were a link to support this conspiratorial claim (even to ftw or some other tinfoil hat site), i might begin to consider the validity of such an argument. but without any supporting analysis, i can't suspend disbelief. links to a cnn story and wolfensohn's bio don't really count, altho i wouldn't put one past old wolfie and his neo-con confabs.
posted by slogger at 6:32 AM on August 15, 2005


According to this Chicago Trib story, there are Palestinians who at least have direct experience working in the greenhouses.
posted by eatitlive at 6:34 AM on August 15, 2005


There's a lot of it about - stirring up of race hatred, that is. Let's face it, it's probably one of the most popular forms of human conversation in many groups.

Still, it would be beneficial for our survival as a species, not to mention our general happiness, if we could learn to recognize and discredit such behaviors whenever we come across them.

Since tbm's FPP has no content other than a false premise which is obviously designed to provoke racist attacks from both sides of the Jewish-Palestinian issue, I call "troll", and further "racially aggravated troll".
posted by cleardawn at 6:37 AM on August 15, 2005


where did the theory of a "trap" come from?

The poster made it up. I don't think he should be banned, but I think he should get a stern e-mail from Matt explaining the rules of good posting. And this post should be deleted.
posted by languagehat at 6:39 AM on August 15, 2005


Your point seems a little contradictory. The Palestians will doubt the practicality of independence because they'll have failed in a simple task, yet you say that simple task is in fact very difficult. Hmmmm...
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:43 AM on August 15, 2005


Yeah, how odd. In TBM's July 11th post on Palestine, he was pretty objective (his only real crime was Newsfiltering). What the fuck indeed.
posted by klangklangston at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2005


It sounds like the same people who actualy operated the greenhouses will continue to do so. TBMs post is idiotic.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 AM on August 15, 2005


Another example of the progress of different cultures that Jared Diamond can't hope to explain away.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:25 AM on August 15, 2005


There are plenty of greenhouses in Palestinian settlements, too; they might not be as high-tech as some of the Israeli Jewish greenhouse systems, but it's not like the Palestinian farmers aren't going to be able to use them. This post's thesis, presented in its second half, doesn't even come close to passing a community college Critical Thinking 1a test.
posted by luriete at 11:30 AM on August 15, 2005


Good comment, Jatayu das. A shame the entire thread is too political for most to take notice.
posted by dreamsign at 11:35 AM on August 15, 2005


This post should be filed alongside claims that Israel is responsible for 9/11 in the "WTF/LOL" pile.
posted by ori at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2005


Maybe I missed this in the links - but is it possible that the some (or even the bulk) of the private money raised may have been from the customers of whatever is produced in the greenhouses? If so, that'd be a rather damaging to the "trap" theory.
posted by mullacc at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2005


I guess all that's missing on this thread is an Ackbar photo.
posted by furtive at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2005


Ought to try growing weed in those things. Calm everybody down over there..
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on August 15, 2005


Troll. Stirring up race hate. Nigga please.

Tell me this, why are the Israelis are planning on bulldozing the homes of settlers, (despite the high cost of building homes in Gaza), but leaving the greenhouses intact?

Misguided altruism? Or a further attempt to discredit the PA?

According to the AP "The Palestinians need to implement security, economic and political reforms in the overcrowded, wretchedly poor seaside strip of 139 square miles, Ayalon said.

"If this is the case, we can start and move on to make a lasting peace," he said.

"What we expect of them is to put authority into the word `Authority.' This is a great opportunity for an economic revolution" in Gaza.
"

Absolutely. Given that the PA and Hamas can change from promoting terrorism to conducting the boring business of government. Building homes, providing the constant supply of electricity that running a greenhouse requires, etc... it seems to me that neither the PA nor Hamas has a chance of pulling any of this off.

Exposing them for the frauds that they are will be doing a service to the Palestinian people.
posted by three blind mice at 11:56 AM on August 15, 2005


Palestinians and Israelis deserve each other.
posted by blasdelf at 11:58 AM on August 15, 2005


Tell me this, why are the Israelis are planning on bulldozing the homes of settlers

Actually, I can't find the link, but I believe that the Palestinians asked the Israelis to bulldoze the homes. There was some concern that residents would fight to possess them. Given that a greenhouse can be run by a group rather than an individual, there might be less problems.
posted by unreason at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2005


Tell me this, why are the Israelis are planning on bulldozing the homes of settlers, (despite the high cost of building homes in Gaza), but leaving the greenhouses intact?

From the Christian Science Monitor article "Why is Israel pulling out settlers from Gaza, West Bank?":
What will happen to the existing houses and infrastructure?

Israel has decided to destroy houses, schools, and synagogues in Gaza, but leave behind major infrastructure such as electricity, pipes, and roads.

Israel's decision to demolish the homes was mainly made for two reasons: Israel didn't want to leave behind homes that Palestinians could overrun, loot, or rush to fly the flag of Hamas in a sign of triumphalism.

Also, Israeli officials charged that the relatively large, single-family homes would not go to ordinary Palestinians, but to elite and senior members of the Palestinian security forces. Palestinian officials have agreed that the Israeli homes are not suited for the needs of Palestinians. Instead, Palestinians plan to build high-density apartment buildings in their place.
I don't know where your "theory" came from, but you should do a little more research before spouting it all over Metafilter. Either way, it's a crummy post because of the editorializing, regardless of whether you're right or wrong.
posted by letitrain at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2005


"you have to be one hell of conspiracy believer to accept the premises of this post."

...Oh, and there are non of them on Mefi? Please.

Ok, so the editorializing goes against Mefi code, and it's not backed up well enough by links but TBM clearly makes a point worthy of discussion. Would the Isreali's have any problems with 'manipulating' the Palestinian outcome? You'd have to be a total jack-ass to think not. Some of the same people in here chiding TBM for conspiracy theories are among those who accept virtually every Bush conspiracy tossed their way.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that Isreal would be pleased to see the greenhouses, as well as the whole Palestinian 'state' fail miserably. Would James Wolfensohn invest a half million of his own cash to see them fail? Highly unlikely. But I believe there are enough restrictions in place (ie, water supply, infrastructure, a real government) to make the Palestinian situation a decidedly uphill struggle. It should be interesting to see what plays out.
posted by j.p. Hung at 12:54 PM on August 15, 2005


non of them. so much for a good one liner. "none"
posted by j.p. Hung at 12:55 PM on August 15, 2005


The difficulty with this isn't that the Israelis are innocent. I'm certain the settlers would have destroyed the greenhouses out of spite. The difficulty is: there's really no better scenario, whether they're doing it for the right reasons or not, than for the Israelis to leave as much good working stuff behind as possible. And it's better for us to try to help the Palestinians get it together (not just with money, but with actual help) than for us to wait for them to fail so we can blame the Israelis. Blame will fall where it belongs anyhow; no reason to hasten it.
posted by koeselitz at 1:08 PM on August 15, 2005


$133,000.00 per "settler" is what the israeli's are asking their buddies in the US government for aid to resettle them.

where are the conservatives on this one?
posted by specialk420 at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2005


"where are the conservatives on this one?"

um...specialk420, this is Mefi. But don't go to Limbaugh or Hannity either, they forgot was conservatism was a long time ago.
posted by j.p. Hung at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2005


The failure of Palestine will probably have more to do with internal corruption than anything else. But that the Palestinians won't have their own currency, water supply, airport (oh there's a Gaza airport, but they can't use it) etc, will probably have more to do with it.
posted by raaka at 1:47 PM on August 15, 2005


where are the conservatives on this one?

They're too busy racking up billion dollar, pork-barrel road projects to take note.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:57 PM on August 15, 2005


According to the BBC, the greenhouses have been run using Palestinian labor all along, so agricultural expertise should not be a problem.

Again, using the Zimbabwe example, weren't most of the "white farms" run by black labor? I have a problem with your leap in faith there.

If I was a bookmaker I would be giving very long odds of the greenhouses being a success under their new custodians, trap or no trap.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2005


Ought to try growing weed in those things. Calm everybody down over there..
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM PST on August 15 [!]


At least one side thinks that is a good idea.

Let the USA follow THEM breadcrumbs!
posted by Balisong at 7:40 PM on August 15, 2005


Of course it's a trap... the whole goddamn handover is. "So, uh, we're through totally fucking your country... we'll just, uh, see ourselves out. Ok. Bye."

Doesn't make it worse than the alternative.

As far as the whole "Palestinians deserve the asshole leaders they chose" tip goes, don't forget: the Israelis have been applying a certain selective pressure on their choice of leaders. Like, by killing some. When you're stuck in checkpoints for 3 hours out of the day just to (possibly) get to your job and occasionally rocketed/shot at/etc., you're not going to pick the embodiment of the enlightenment project for a leader - you're gonna pick some evil bastard who's willing to feed you and your family.

But whatever: delmoi's solved the problems of What We All Should Do With Palestine's New Booby-Trapped Greenhouses.
posted by Coda at 7:43 PM on August 15, 2005


Again, using the Zimbabwe example, weren't most of the "white farms" run by black labor? I have a problem with your leap in faith there.

They were taken by thugs, not farmers. When the thugs moved in, they not only ran out the white guys but also the black labour. They are not interested in growing crops and the lack of crops seems to be in Mugabe's favour - or at least he doesn't seem too concerned to actually do anything about it.

Trying to make what's happened in Zimbabwe fit what's happening here is just plain stupid as the situations are vastly different.
posted by dodgygeezer at 12:47 AM on August 16, 2005


Trying to make what's happened in Zimbabwe fit what's happening here is just plain stupid

I'm try trying to "make" anything fit. I'm just using history to help me decide what I think is going to happen. Sure, there's some differences which you point out, but there are also a lot of similarities.

I wish the Palestinians well, but I still reckon their greenhouses are going to be a failure. Trap or no trap.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:38 AM on August 16, 2005


I'm going wait until Israel actually pulls out of the West Bank before commenting on this....



.....still waiting
posted by GrooveJedi at 3:22 AM on August 16, 2005


If they demolished the greenhouses there'd be an uproar about how Israel is going out of its way to harm the Palestinians by depriving them of greenhouses.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:03 PM on August 16, 2005


The Jesse Helms: Another example of the progress of different cultures that Jared Diamond can't hope to explain away.

You really are something, buddy.
posted by hackly_fracture at 5:29 PM on August 16, 2005


I like Jared Diamond. Other people have said very similar things, but he brought all that research together succinctly. It doesn't really explain history in the micro, but does give very interesting thoughts on more macro issues.

Personally, I ascribe to the "Europe is sucky and had to go elsewhere for all the cool stuff" theory of history. China had all the stuff it wanted. That's why it didn't go out exploring. But Europe didn't have any good food flavourings.
posted by jb at 9:15 PM on August 16, 2005


...still waiting.
posted by GrooveJedi at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2005


Palestinians loot greenhouses
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:31 AM on September 14, 2005


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