A Strange Sentence in the Times

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Does something in this lede from the Times seem strange?

RAFAH BORDER CROSSING, Egypt -- Hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip arrived here by the busload on Saturday to pass through the reopened border into Egypt, taking the first tangible steps out of a four-year Israeli blockade.

So: For the first time in four years, Gazans can cross the border into Egypt. This fact suggests that Egypt had blockaded its border with Gaza. But wait -- somehow, it was a four-year Israeli blockade that kept Gazans from crossing into Egypt. According to the Times story, Egypt decided to "stop enforcing Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory."

It always seemed to me that Israel and Egypt, two independent states, decided jointly to blockade Gaza. Does the Times believe the Mubarak regime decided to participate in the blockade of Gaza because Israel ordered it to participate? Does anyone actually believe that Egypt closed its border with Gaza only because it was in Israel's interest? Or was Egypt's government and military worried about the spread of Hamas ideology into Sinai and beyond?

This sort of question also arose during the flotilla debacle. The world was focused on Israel's closure of Gaza, but the Israeli closure was a closure only because Egypt had also imposed a closure. You can't close three sides of a four-sided territory (Israel controlled the western shore of Gaza, its northern and eastern borders) and expect to have an effective closure. And yet, there was no international pressure on Egypt to open its border. This suggests that Israel was the target of disproportionate animus.


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/a-strange-sentence-in-the-times/239621/