Cliff: I loved that video of the new luxury mall in Gaza, and the many other pictures that have been circulating of markets groaning with goods in that supposed site of privation and want. But a collection of anecdotes isn’t data. So when I saw in a story about the mall the claim that the Gaza Arabs actually have a higher standard of living than Turkey, I looked it up. The CIA Factbook doesn’t break out per capita GDP for the Gaza Strip, lumping it together with the West Bank; and the number is much, much lower than Turkey ($2,900 vs. $11,200). But, when you look at specific quality-of-life indicators, the Gaza Arabs really are better off than the Turks. Infant mortality: 17.71 per 1,000 live births in Gaza vs. 24.82 in Turkey. Life expectancy at birth: 73.68 years for Gaza vs. 72.23 for Turkey. Literacy (over age 15 who can read and write): 92.4 percent in Gaza vs. 87.4 percent in Turkey (and even female literacy is higher in Gaza: 88 percent vs. 79.6 percent). School life expectancy (likely total years of schooling): 14 years in Gaza vs. 11 in Turkey (same for women specifically).
As Tom Gross, the photojournalist who covered the opening of the luxury mall, has observed: “Have they considered that perhaps the humanitarian flotillas ought to be going in the other direction, towards Turkey?”