Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dumb and dumber in the Middle East

The Palestinians and the Israelis may be pretty exercised over who is occupying whose territory and the Israelis may be building a wall they think will separate themselves from the Palestinians, but the bird flu virus could care less. Egypt to the west, Turkey and Iraq to the northeast and Saudi Arabia to the east all have infected birds. Now people in Gaza are saying their birds and chickens are dying. The Palestinian Agriculture Ministry doesn't have the ability to test for H5N1 so yesterday they handed over chicken and turkey carcasses to the Israeli military for testing in Israel (AP via Haaretz).
"It is in Israel's interest to ensure that agricultural standards in Gaza are maintained," Madar told the Post as he prepared to transport the samples to Israel's veterinary service laboratories in Beit Dagan.

If these diseases are confirmed, the situation could have fierce repercussions in terms of finance and health, Israeli security officials were quoted as saying.

On Wednesday morning, Madar was notified that 12 to 13 dead wild fowl were found in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, not far from borders between Gaza and Egypt, where bird flu cases were reported for the first time on Feb. 17. (Xinhua)
The Israelis may rue the day they purposely destroyed the Palestinian civil infrastructure, including its health services (and continue to do so by withholding money they got by taxing Palestinians). And they will surely rue the day they bankrupted themselves and crippled their own infrastructure along with it by waging perpetual war, just as the US and its perpetual war has seriously weakened its own civil society.

Until now, however, there has been cooperation between Israel and Palestine on public health matters, particularly on bird flu. But that is about to stop:
Security officials warned that once the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) establishes a new Palestinian government, the possibility of maintaining such close coordination and contacts will be in doubt.

"If Israel's policy is to refrain from speaking with Hamas, then once the new Palestinian government is installed and new ministers take their posts, all contacts will be stopped," a security official said.
The virus is indifferent to this stupidity. From its point of view a Muslim or Christian Palestinian looks exactly the same as a Jewish Israeli. Same human cells. Same respiratory tract. Same immune systems. Same genetic machinery it can commandeer to make more copies of itself. It doesn't ask what superstition addles the brain of its new host. Superstition can't hurt this virus.

Let me ask: who's smartest, a Palestinian, an Israeli or this little virus?