Angelina Jolie, starlet extraordinaire, has been on one drug or another for much of her life. She started in high school, with methadone. And she says it herself: “I’ve done coke, heroin, ecstasy, LSD, everything.” You can see Jolie, addict-thin, wandering aimlessly about an apartment after having taken both heroin and cocaine, by doing a quick Internet search. Her sentimental life is well known. She also admits to having cut herself, repeatedly, supposedly to make up for a feeling of “emptiness and loss.” But that’s all behind her. She’s gone straight, became a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN’s Refugee Agency — after twenty years, she’s stepped down — and now, it seems, she has become an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
She’s just delivered herself, on Instagram, of some harsh remarks about Israel. Here they are:
This is the deliberate bombing of a trapped population who have nowhere to flee. Gaza has been an open-air prison for nearly two decades and is fast becoming a mass grave. 40% of those killed are innocent children. Whole families are being murdered. While the world watches and with the active support of many governments, millions of Palestinian civilians – children, women, families – are being collectively punished and dehumanized, all while being deprived food, medicine and humanitarian aid against international law. By refusing to demand a humanitarian ceasefire and blocking the UN Security Council from imposing one on both parties, world leaders are complicit in these crimes.
Let’s take Jolie’s remark apart, phrase by ghastly phrase.
Yes, of course Israel’s bombing in Gaza, unlike the rockets flung wildly by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad into Israel’s civilian centers, is “deliberate.” Israel does not simply bomb, as its enemies do, without rhyme or reason. The IDF bombs sites in Gaza where it knows weapons are stored, rocket launchers are hidden, command-and-control centers are located, most often to be found in the network of underground tunnels. Its “deliberate” bombing includes “deliberate warning” of civilians to leave buildings, or areas, about to be targeted. No other army on earth warns enemy civilians to leave targeted sites, which is why British Colonel Richard Kemp described the IDF as “the most moral army in the world.”
“a trapped population with nowhere to flee”
Of course the civilian population in northern Gaza had, and many still have, somewhere to flee — they could flee to southern Gaza, to certain areas where the IDF has said will be safe, for it will, until further notice, refrain from attacking those areas. The IDF, you see, does everything it can to minimize civilian casualties, just as Hamas does everything it can to maximize them, whether in Gaza or in Israel. 800,000 Gazans heeded the IDF’s warning, and went south. Those who remained in the north, in Gaza City, had been warned every day for nearly four weeks to leave — the IDF even dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets urging residents in the north to head south. It is not Israel’s fault if they refused to take those warnings seriously. But, pace Jolie, they had somewhere to flee. The only people “trapped” in are those still in northern Gaza who have been prevented from heading south by Hamas, that is determined to keep as many civilians as it can in the north to act as human shields.
“Gaza has been an open-air prison for almost two decades and has become a mass grave”
How has Gaza been an “open-air prison” since 2005, when every last Israeli pulled out of the Strip? There is no reason in the world why Israelis should be obligated to admit people from Gaza into their midst, people who have been raised since childhood to want to kill the Yahudim, the Jews. Shouldn’t Angelina Jolie address her question to Egypt, an Arab country, that could easily let Gazans in through the Rafah Crossing? And in fact, many Palestinians have left what Jolie wrongly calls an “open-air prison” On September 19, 2023, Palestinian TV broadcast a program called Emigration from Gaza – which claimed that in the past 15 years, about a quarter of a million young Gazans had left for abroad. Angelina, take note: 250,000 people managed to walk out of that “prison.”
The bottleneck that prevented even more people from leaving had nothing to do with Israel: It was the Hamas bureaucracy, and the hesitancy of other countries to accept them. Can you think of reasons why Western countries might not wish to have young Palestinian males to settle in their midst? Or why Arab states are not eager to take them in?
In September, before the war, there were were violent clashes involving hundreds of young Gazans outside the sole travel agency in Gaza City authorized to issue visas to Turkey. Once the war is over, those Gazans will again resume their plans to leave Gaza, and no one — certainly not Israel — will try to hold them back. Do people in prisons have travel agents available to provide them with visas to leave?
If Gaza is an “open-air prison,” why would those who left it then want to return for a visit? In July 2022, over 15,000 expatriates returned to the Gaza Strip for the feast of Eid al-Adha. They were excited to visit and reported that the markets were full, with plenty of livestock for the festival. That seems to be a lot of traffic in and out for a prison.
And if Gaza is an “open-air prison,” what explains the 20,000 Gazans who have been allowed to leave that prison every day to work in Israel, where they were paid wages three to ten times as much as they could earn in Gaza?
“fast becoming a mass grave”
What can Jolie be smoking, or injecting, or snorting? Even if we were to believe that 9,000 people — that means accepting Hamas’ claims about casualties, which have proved so exaggerated in the past — have died in Gaza, that does not make the Strip a “mass grave.” Nazi death camps (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec), the open pits of Babiy Yar, the firebombing of Cologne, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — these are places where “mass graves” are to be found. The fifty people killed in the first attack on the Jabaliya camp in Gaza City, at least 30 of whom were Hamas operatives, about which such a fuss has been made, do not make for a “mass grave.” Israel has hit 11,000 targets in Gaza so far, and there have been 9,000 deaths, with more than two-thirds of them believed to be Hamas operatives. That means there has been less than one death for every target hit. How does that make Gaza, with 2.2 million people, a “mass grave”?
The medical situation in Gaza is often discussed, with claims that the “blockade” leaves Gazans with poor medical care and lack of supplies. But there has never been an Israeli blockade of medicines and medical supplies into Gaza until October 8. And when Hamas wants drugs, it is apparently quite capable of getting them. On October 7, thousands of terrorists streamed into southern Israel, many of them high on captagon, colloquially known as “the drug of jihad,” or “the drug of ISIS,” popular among ISIS terrorists for its leading to hyperarousal and hyperstimulation.
Additionally, the medical stats in Gaza paint a quite surprising picture. The maternal mortality rate in Gaza is 20 deaths/100,000 live births, better than Ethiopia (267), South Africa (127), Cyprus (68) and even the US (21). Infant mortality is 14.87 deaths/1,000 live births, far better than Nigeria (55) or India (30), and comparable to Egypt (17) and Venezuela (14).
And life expectancy at birth (75.66 years) in Gaza is comparable to that of its neighbors – Egypt (74.7), Syria (74.5), and Saudi Arabia (76.9). In Gaza, they have more physicians per capita (2.71 physicians/1,000 population) than Lebanon (2.21), Egypt (0.75), or even the US (2.61) and similar to Saudi Arabia (2.74).
What Gazans are particularly good at is reproducing. Over 13% of girls are married by age 18. In 2000, a New York Times article explained: “Gaza’s extremely high fertility rate… is comparable to… Uganda’s. But unlike those countries, almost all of the babies survive… .”
In other words, the birth rate, which has somewhat moderated in recent years, is like the third world, but the health care is far better.
And some of that health care for Gazans is provided by Israel. Gazans who have very difficult medical conditions, such as those requiring the services of a pediatric cardiologist — are allowed to come to Israel for treatment, which is often provided for free. What does Angelina Jolie make of that?
Angelina Jolie knows very little about the 3,500-year history of the Jews in the Land of Israel, nothing about the recently-invented “Palestinian people,” and less than nothing about Hamas’ corrupt reign of terror in Gaza. Perhaps she’d care to study a bit before making any further pronouncements on the matter. She might start by reading the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, and the Charter of Hamas. Meanwhile, we offer for her consideration, in the friendliest possible way, a French phrase that fits her case: “Sois belle et tais-toi,” which means “Be beautiful, Angelina, and shut up.”