Sunday, February 19, 2006

Kufiyaspotting #9A: Prefuse 73 -- and starving the Palestinians

From Ben Ratliff's "Playlist" column in today's NYT, a review of producer Guillermo Scott Heren, who records as Prefuse 73, and his new release Security Screenings.

I really like what I've heard of Prefuse 73, although I've not heard the new album. And I like the political sympathies of G. Scott Heren, which can be gauged in this interview with Pitchfork. But today, because the enormity of what is facing the Palestinians seems even more grim, I'm feeling that such kufiya style gestures are pretty insignificant. Of course, what should I expect one, single, solitary producer of music to do?

Here's what's bugging me: Israel is going to do its best to cut off funding to the Palestinian authority, in order to try to "starve" Hamas--which now controls the Parliament--into submission. Today the Israeli government announced it will stop turning over the tax receipts it collects on behalf of the Palestinian authority, amounting to $50 million a month.

Dov Weissglass, advisor to Acting Prime Minister Olmert, explained the Israeli government's logic as follows: "It's like a meeting with a dietitian. We need to make the Palestinians lose weight, but not to starve to death (my italics)."

Bravo to Weisglass for striking a blow against obesity. Those Palestinians have gotten way too fat!

Or have they? The New York Times reported on January 17, "According to recent assessments by the World Bank and the UN Development Program, up to 60 percent of Palestinians now live under the poverty line, which suggests that even those who are employed are barely subsisting."

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported, in its 2006 Humanitarian Appeal, that, "For the fourth consecutive year humanitarian agencies are appealing to donors for funding for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The labour market is characterized by informal, short-term and low-paid work. Poverty has climbed to 64 percent and unemployment is at 27 percent, almost three times as high as in 2000. The situation is particularly grave in the Gaza Strip, where almost all areas are experiencing high levels of food insecurity."

UNICEF reports (2006): "Malnutrition for children [in Gaza] under the age of five (U5) remains high at 10% and the risk of malnutrition for the very young children is increasing. The most vulnerable age group are children aged 12-23 months with stunting reaching 16%.

"Chronic macro- and micronutrient malnutrition in children under five has continuously increased. One in ten children under five are chronically malnourished (stunted), meaning that about 50,000 children will not reach the standards for growth and development. The heaviest burden is carried out by the children 12-23 months (almost 16% of them are stunted), a critical age when the biological and developmental future of the child is at stake. The malnutrition rat in Gaza Strip, in all urban areas, as well as in girls, are above average levels.

"The micronutrient malnutrition - iron, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies - are affecting around 40% of children U5. These issues are directly related to the household impoverishment and degradation of coping strategies, as well as of practices of breastfeeding and young child feeding."

Clearly, these kids need the help of the "dietitian."

(The last two kufiyaspottings are here and here.)


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