What does it take to get a pair of pants around here?

or: The Predicament of Political Pants

By Forest Rain, Lionheart May, 28 2006


All I wanted was a pair of black pants. How hard can it be to find black pants?! 

Ok. I admit it. I am picky. It was important to find the right kind of pants; black, good fit, not formal but nice enough for work or to go out in… One would think that’s not too much to ask. Right?

Most women know the feeling of standing in front of the closet (usually one that is full of clothes) and not having anything to wear! Guys tend to find this frustrating predicament incomprehensible but maybe those reading this will understand the logic of finding the almighty Strategic Piece of Clothing. In my case it was a pair of pants. If I only had the pants, suddenly all the shirts and shoes that previously couldn’t be worn would find their match. Shirts and shoes would no longer be lonely; they would have the right partner to accompany them to all kinds of exciting places in the wide world Outside the Closet. For the good of my closet it was necessary to find the right pair of pants.  

But this is Israel, a country where the seemingly straightforward and obvious can become next to impossible. In this country even pants become political and the predicament is ponderous…

It sounds like I am joking but in actuality I write here of something much more important than clothes. The case of the Political Pants is one symptom of Israeli reality. It is an example that highlights all else.

I asked the store owner why she didn’t have the pants I wanted and was baffled when she began her explanation with the question: “Don’t you watch the news?” As she continued I began to understand… Many Israeli clothing companies have their factories based in Gaza and Egypt and since the Karni crossing from Gaza into Israel has been closed for half a year the stores are all running out of merchandise. She couldn’t sell me pants because she hasn’t been receiving new stock.  “The only merchandise I have,” she said, gesturing to the racks lining the store walls, “is what’s left from before [the crossing was closed]”.

Thinking about this difficult reality the store owner’s mind quickly leapt to the hardship of the Palestinians. Leaning over the counter, her face revealed her thoughts before she spoke: “You know the people are starving there?! Their medicines are running out if they haven’t already!” Sadly this is all too true. Closure of the Palestinian territory is damaging in many, many ways.

In good times the Karni crossing and other such crossings are just that, a place to cross the border between territories. In bad times these checkpoints become blockades. No one goes in and no one goes out. Those words don’t have much impact unless you take the time to imagine the effect the political situation has on individuals. Palestinians are not allowed to come into Israel to work. Merchandise from the PA territory isn’t being purchased as it can’t be shipped into Israel. The Palestinian worker, ready and willing to work, in possession of skills and a place to work and still can’t provide for their family because no one can buy the merchandise they produce… Food and medicines are running out. The Israeli store owner can’t make money because it’s impossible to sell merchandise she doesn’t have in stock. How is she supposed to pay her bills if she can’t make sales?

The store owner told me: “Pay attention to the news and when the Karni crossing is reopened come quick!”  In a different store I heard customers complaining about the small selection of clothes in stock. That was the second time I heard about the effect of politics on pants.

The solution seems obvious. If sealing the border causes so much damage then the army should open the crossings! Right? Wrong.

The border must remain sealed.

The Israeli Army, sworn to protect innocent civilians is deeply disturbed by the suffering of innocent Palestinians knowing that their suffering is exacerbated when the border is sealed for a long period of time. The Israeli public aches for the Palestinian pain. As a people who have suffered all too much, we Israelis find it difficult to allow others to suffer.

Ordinary Israeli civilians find themselves feeding Palestinian children. Desperate Palestinian parents sneak over the border and send their kids to beg from Israelis. They know that whereas adults might be turned away, their children will not be. Israeli citizens have tried to relieve this situation, calling child protective services and alerting the media but again politics get in the way of the obvious solution. These parents would much rather work than send their children to beg.

A sealed border between greater Israel and Gaza is not good for Israel and it is even worse for the Palestinians. The humanitarian and economic damage caused by closures has led the army to open the border repeatedly. Time and again the result has been the same – death and destruction.

In a word – terrorism.

Suicide bombers mix in with the crowds of Palestinians coming into Israel to work. They hide in ambulances bringing sick Palestinians to Israeli hospitals. They sneak into Israel, hiding in shipments of merchandise, intent on the goal of getting past the Israeli soldiers in order to wreak mayhem on the Israeli people. Israeli security forces are highly skilled but when they receive intelligence that the amount of attacks planned vastly outnumbers the amount of attacks they are able to thwart there is only one solution – closing the borders, barring everyone and everything from coming into Israel.  

Terrorists have been running and currently run the Palestinian Authority. After the terrorist group Hamas was elected to power it has become even more evident that terrorists run the Palestinian Authority. It is the terrorists who decide whether or not Palestinians starve. Their actions dictate whether or not merchants can export their products to Israel. The terrorists decide if financial, humanitarian aide sent by other countries (including Israel) funds food and welfare for Palestinians or is used to fund weapons and bribes for the higher-ups in the terror organizations.

 The Karine A, a ship full of weapons headed for Gaza was confiscated by the Israeli army (this was during Arafat’s time). That was one glaring example of where the terrorists chose to invest money meant for the Palestinian people. Recently another arms cache of similar size was discovered and confiscated, showing Israel and the world that the terrorists are continuing to make the same choices and have not changed their priorities – death to Israel rather than welfare to the Palestinian people.   

Terrorists run Palestinian society. They decide what kids learn in school, what toys kids play with (plastic guns). Terrorists set the trends of what is cool and what isn’t. The latest fashion trend was inspired by Zarqawi in Iraq – boys and men are wearing black hats like his, symbolizing their respect for his actions against America. Because of the terrorist agenda Palestinian kids have no playgrounds. They choose to buy bombs and rockets rather than swing sets or slides for their children to play on. There isn’t even one playground. Palestinians have no theaters or museums, only exhibitions glamorizing killing Jews and Americans. As a result of the terrorists’ doing, Palestinians can no longer work in Jewish fields or factories. Because of them Palestinians are dying from lack of proper medical care. Because of them, their own people are starving.

It sounds ridiculous to say that it takes peace in the Middle East to get a pair of pants but the ridiculous has become a somber reality. I had difficulty finding pants because of terrorism. It seems preposterous that a large group of people would torture their own people for political gain but that is exactly what terrorists do. That is what they are doing on a daily basis. 

Ignoring terrorism, assuming that it’s “over there,” that it only effects “those people” and “doesn’t effect me because I’m over here” may be a comforting mindset but it’s also dangerous. The predicament of the political pants is a snapshot highlighting the insidiousness of terrorism and the complexity of issues that arise as a result of terrorism.

All the economic and humanitarian issues I have laid out before you here would vanish; all the problems would be solved immediately if terrorism ended. It is that simple. The problem lies in reaching that condition. The method for achieving this goal is not a straightforward one for the terrorists will only decide to end terrorism when and if it ceases to be an effective method to achieves their goals.

Meanwhile they kill us, damage our economy and make it darn hard to find the right pair of pants. Horrible as this is, what the terrorists are doing to their own people is even worse.

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