I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

Roger Hearing‘s piece. The ice-cream maker of Gaza could be written off if it was only yet another BBC magazine colour piece designed to show spunky Gazans (aren’t they all?) creatively surviving. but does that excuse him and the BBC failing, yet again, as journalists? Is it possible the BBC adds the boilerplate and doesn’t bother reading what the correspondent has written when they do it?

Aashraf Abushaban had just been on a course in Tel Aviv about making Italian ice cream. Hadn’t he ever heard of the blockade and Gaza being the world’s biggest open air prison?

Mec3 logoRoger Hearing will have to remind him. A bit of research shows the course was sponsored by Italian ice cream makers, Mec3 which licensed him to produce their products. This suggests strongly that he didn’t have to import their machines through tunnels.

Nor his other equipment. The business was started by his father in the 1950s something openly acknowledged by Hearing. He was in fact the owner and manager of the celebrated Kazem Ice Cafe, purveyor to Gaza, for more than half a century. Surely a large part or even most of his pre 2007 equipment is still functioning and didn’t need to be smuggled?

Ever wonder where Gaza icecream manufacturers get their milk?

Children queue at an ice-cream parlour during the hot weather in Gaza City, May 2015. Credit: www.bbc.com

Sugar, cardboard, powdered milk, ice cream cones and cooking agents come through Israel’s port of Ashdod. Without Israel, Abushaban and the other ice cream parlours scattered throughout Gaza (for that matter Judea and Samaria) would have to close their doors.

The other parlours and factories scattered throughout Gaza are probably a little upset about Kazem’s free, world-wide publicity on the BBC but they don’t necessarily blame Israel. Except, of course, when interviewed by a journo with a Hamas minder staring over his shoulder.

Hamas has a big part to play in the economic woes of Gaza manufacturers

Al-Aroussa ice cream factory, C.E.O. Mushtaha said:

“The taxes imposed by the Hamas government are putting a significant strain on the owners of ice cream factories. In addition to VAT [value added tax] paid to Israel — of which a portion goes to the Palestinian Authority — we also pay an annual income tax to Hamas, which also imposed its own VAT because it was not recuperating the proceeds thereof from Israel due to the break in political relations with the latter.”

Hamas imposed a Solidarity Tax on imported goods and that serves to pay salaries to the idle employees who were appointed by the previous government — has had an impact on ice cream factories that have had to pay this tax on their mostly imported goods.

But grey and grim reality is never far away. Almost directly opposite, across the road, is the wreckage of an apartment block demolished by an Israeli missile last August. “Took out all our windows,” Ashraf says. But the cafe and shop reopened within weeks of the end of the fighting.

For the record, Aashraf Abushaban, owner of the Kazem ice cream parlor in Gaza, left Gaza for Canada, during the war. He wasn’t necessarily even around when his windows blew out. But it does serve to make the story exciting and first persony.

The world’s biggest open air prison — NOT

So many myths about Gaza and they keep recycling. The most-densely-populated-place-on-Earth – NOT is discussed here, here and here. The world’s-biggest-‘open-air’-prison claim is one that refuses to die even though it is obvious that it is not the largest nor by most definitions a prison.

Is North Korea [Population: 24.9 million (2013) Area 120,540 km²] miffed by claims that Gaza [Population: 1,816,379 (2014) Area 360 km²] is the world’s largest open air prison. Surely North Korea deserves that discredit?

Check out the Most Beautiful Places in Gaza Facebook page for example after example of non prison-like things in Gaza.

Extra credit

† Hana Salah is a Palestinian financial journalist based in Gaza. She previously worked with Palestinian newspapers and Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency. Did the BBC do any research at all?

Published at Five Minutes for Israel

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