Israel Changes Its Mind, Palestinians Now Allowed to Eat Pasta

Ezra Klein offers a postcard of life in the Gaza Strip:

Israel, it seems, has been denying shipments of pasta headed for Gaza. Senator John Kerry, who’d been visiting Israel, heard about the idle trucks filled with food aid and asked around. “Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid,” he was told. “Only rice shipments.” A call Kerry made to Ehud Barak quickly got the pasta added to the list of acceptable humanitarian aid. Comments from Representative Brian Laird helped lentils onto the list of officially allowed foods. American politicians do not like seeing starvation used to change electoral outcomes.

Good for Senator Kerry and good for Representative Laird. But still, stop and think for a minute about how this looks through the eyes of a young Palestinian. Israel has the right to decide what can and can’t be sent to Gaza. Yesterday, pasta couldn’t be. Today it can. But what about dried beans? Cornmeal? What if I should want to send a box of Sour Patch Kids to Gaza—well, I probably couldn’t. That’s not bona fide humanitarian aid, and Gaza is under blockade. An act of war that targets the entire civilian population of the strip. And Israel’s Prime Minister says Israel can never agree to an independent Palestinian state. And the whole international community is okay with this. Nobody is trying to break the blockade. Instead, Palestinians are supposed to learn that terrorism is wrong (it targets civilians!) and that it’s important to recognize Israel’s right to exist. But somehow nobody wants to teach these lessons to the Israelis.