a different side of Israel

Tag: Islamic Law

Two Sides of Gaza

Hard Times

For those familiar with social policies in Saudi Arabia the following should not come as such a surprise:

According to a new Hamas law, women in Gaza are forbidden to smoke tobacco water pipes; the latest in a year long campaign to enforce gradually a strict life code on the citizens of the Gaza strip. Hamas has also banned women from riding motorbikes, impoverished women from riding behind their husbands on cheap Vespas; and teenage girls must cover up in loose robes and headscarves.

Men are targeted by Hamas officials if they are seen alongside women in public and if they dress in ways considered too Western, such as shorts and a T-shirt.

Last year, a 23-year-old man was interrogated for a week because of rumors that he was gay. In another case, the New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that a gay man was being held in a Gaza jail.

Better Times

Meanwhile, on another note,, a personal blog reported on bustling and crowded food markets in Gaza and the construction of a new Olympic-size public swimming pool,

“No shortage of building materials or water here”

observed Gross. He also mentioned luxury restaurants, “where you can dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”. Well, lastly brought to attention in this personal blog was an impressive new shopping mall on the strip.

My point is not that the residents of Gaza should not have these things, but it is much to the contrary of the Western Media’s portrayal of the region, justifying human rights flotillas, for example.

Lesser of two evils: Mousavi or Ahmadinejad?

46 million Iranians voted Friday in what was declared to be the first really contested election in that country since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that “lovely” man who continues to say that Israel is an “illegal” state and should be “wiped of the face of the map“, was opposed by former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who presented himself as a “reformist candidate”, although he still backs his country’s nuclear program. What Mr. Mousavi may have meant as being “reformist” is probably similar to former president Mohammad Khatami, who was really one of the Mullah religious leaders, and said to wield the real power in the Islamic Republic, with people like Ahmadinejad only being front men.

Mahmoud AhmadinejadWhat all this means for Israel is that no great surprises were in store, no matter who would win, and that the anti-Israel rhetoric will continue, as well as the nuclear program, which went into high gear when Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005. Mousavi is even said to have begun the nuclear program back in the 1980’s.

Reform means a lot of different things to different people, especially in a country like Iran, where Sharia Islamic law is practiced to a large extent, although not to the extreme as it is in Saudi Arabia, or in the former Taliban controlled Afghanistan. What this means for Iranian women is that they are allowed to drive, not completely cover their faces (even a bit of fashion is permitted), achieve a higher education, work in most professions, and vote. The voting right by women was definitely exercised in the election, although the way many women exercised their vote was probably influenced by their husband or father (if they are not married yet). The Iranian legal system continues to try, and punish, both men and women according to strict Islamic law, meaning that people committing acts that are contrary to Islamic Law are often given the harshest punishment – including death.

It is well known that the real holder of the reins of power in Iran is the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is as bad or worse than the Ayatollah Hasni Komeni, who presided over the country following the Islamic Revolution.

Iran has a number of problems that should be dealt with by no matter who wins this election. These include a 17% unemployment rate, and an energy and industrial infrastructure that is in complete shambles. For a country with the world’s second biggest oil reserves (said to be anywhere from 14 to 25 %) it must import most of its refined petroleum products; and many Iranians still drive around old locally made versions of British Hillman Hunter automobiles from pre-revolutionary days. And at least half of the population is 27 years old or younger, making available careers for university graduates even scarcer.

In the end no earthshaking changes came about, as the “reform candidate” Moussavi didn’t win. As for people living in Israel, being prepared for the worst case scenario is a matter of acute reality in these current times.

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