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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
My Last Day..., by Leyla

May 15, 2004
[Ramallah] I travel to the Qalandia checkpoint, where, in a bad mood
about leaving, I refuse to show the soldiers my passport. After all,
checkpoints are illegal, so they have no right to ask it of me. With
some sense I don't say this to them, just say instead that I have my
visa page which I can show them. They put up with what appears to be
the ignorance of a tourist, telling me simply that I should carry my
passport to show at checkpoints at all times. I wonder if even they
know it is illegal for them to do this?
I spend my last day in Bethlehem, with my very beautiful nurse A,
from two years ago when I was wounded by Israeli soldiers. It is
brilliant to see her. We meet at the hospital – she is with J's wife
(he was another of the staff I made friends with.) She and J are
expecting twins! They live in Deheisheh refugee camp. K, another of
my nurses, is in the Ramallah mental hospital now, they tell me –
then bursting out laughing, they reassure me that he is there as a
nurse, not a patient!
A takes me to see Dr N, who performed my surgery, who smiles gently
and enquires if everything has been ok since. I tell him it has been
perfect. I would like to show him how neatly the scar came out, but
I know you don't show your belly to people in this country, and I'm
not sure if the rules are different when the person in question has
already seen it and a lot more besides…
Then we go to Dr P, the head of the hospital. A reminds him who I
am, and a look of beaming recognition sweeps over his face. He is
very enthusiastic about me and my visit and the fact that I have
come back to say hello to the hospital. Oh, I am glad to have met
these people.
So, A takes me to the Church of the Nativity – with its new array of
bullet holes from April 2002 – and to the nearby Peace Centre, which
co-incidentally has a display of photos taken during the Bethlehem
incursion, and of the detritus left behind by the army. Some of the
photos are harrowing – dead bodies of whole families left in their
houses for days.
These are the people my ISM friends were trying to help get
ambulances to, while I lay in hospital. A says that, as a nurse, she
has many such photos of her own from that time and others, but has
never known what to do with them. She knows they are evidence, but
who can she show them to? I tell her about the Indymedia pages, in
case she wants to use them to tell her stories in.
  Also in the Peace Centre is a display of Nativity scenes from
around the world – porcelain ones from Germany, ones made from palm
leaves from the south sea islands, wood-carved ones from South
Africa. A loves all of them, makes sure we exclaim over every one.
She gives me a tiny wooden hanging one as a gift from a hopefully
open tourist shop. Bethlehem is lively today in a way I have never
seen it; the Star Hotel (where we stayed in 2002) is as empty as
ever but the streets are full of people buying their groceries. A
says the economic situation grows worse though. I discover she is
supporting her whole family – both parents (her father has
alzheimers) and three siblings, one of whom is old enough to work
but can't find any.
We finish the day at Dehaishah Camp itself, at its Community Centre.
It is the only refugee camp to have a centre with a guest house and
a restaurant; the rest is youth club space and other community
resources. A is on the health committee there. Here – in fact in the
whole of Bethlehem – she seems to know everyone.
She is a small woman of 26 (smaller than I realized, since I was
very hunched when I last saw her!) who says "I may be short, but I
have confidence!" And she has a philosophy of determined
happiness. "You must choose to be happy – you must decide to be, no
matter what happens to you." She is an inspiration to me, because
choosing happiness under such limits, such pressure, and everyday
close-up evidence of the Occupation's damage, is courageous. One of
her favorite themes is the beauty of the human body (she who sees so
many broken ones), particularly women's bodies. Her favorite piece
of art is called something like "Woman with head of flowers" which
is of a nude and garlanded woman being knelt to by a man.
I like spending time with A for many reasons, but one is that she
too wears the hijab (head scarf), and her religion for her is a
strength, not a limiting thing. Her way may be the way forward for
Palestinian women. And, as someone suggested, I think many women
here are waiting for the time when the men have some sense of self-
worth and personal power again, to challenge them in a positive way,
without simply crushing them.
I leave Bethlehem walking, back to Jerusalem to get my belongings
together. Going home, to a world of personal safety, and mental
apathy. To try and challenge some of that apathy - again.

Posted at 10:58:39 pm by palestine
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Thursday, May 20, 2004
Genocide By Public Policy

Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan, News from Within, 19 May 2004
Many words are taboo if used to describe Israel’s actions against Palestinians. One word in particular -- genocide -- sparks emotions that echo across Israel, Europe, and North America. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." What is happening in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip today is dangerously close to genocide, close enough that photographs of terrified Palestinians in Rafah loading their meager belongings onto carts and fleeing their homes are all too reminiscent of another time, another place another people. These images should be setting off alarm bells in the hearts and minds of Israelis. Unfortunately, at stake is not only the lexicon of conflict, but our children as well. We refuse to sit still and watch a deaf, dumb and blind world steal their future from them.

A few weeks ago, Israeli professor and political sociologist at Ben Gurion University, Lev Grinberg, wrote an article that created an furore in Israel. Entitled "Symbolic Genocide," [1] it provided an unsettling argument: "Unable to recover from the Holocaust trauma and the insecurity it caused, the Jewish people, the ultimate victim of genocide, is currently inflicting a symbolic genocide upon the Palestinian people…What is symbolic genocide? Every people has its symbols, national leaders and political institutions, a home land, past and future generations, and hopes. All these symbolically represent a people. Israel is systematically damaging, destroying and eradicating all of these, with unbelievable bureaucratic jargon."

During the last few years and weeks, in particular, such actions can no longer be accurately defined as "symbolic." In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian cities and refugee camps are being battered beyond recognition. This is the same fate that today’s very same Israeli leaders forced upon Palestinians in Lebanon in 1982 and upon Palestinians inside Israel proper nearly 60 years ago. The Israeli targets have been many, most recently, as we write, Rafah City and the Rafah refugee camp in the Southern tip of the Gaza Strip.

This isolated, poverty-stricken community is facing the same brute force of the Israeli military occupation that the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, faced two years ago, if not worse. The Palestinian death toll has been mounting so steadily that the media does not even bother to mention the 5-7 Palestinian deaths that occur almost daily from Israeli firepower.

Nevertheless, "deliberate and systematic destruction," as the definition of genocide illustrates, does not necessarily mean physical killing of people, albeit Israel is having no problem, and is facing no international outcry, in doing just that. Destruction, Israeli-occupation style, is equally focused on demolishing Palestinian homes under the false pretext of "security." If so many Palestinians were not being killed and even more being made homeless, this outdated Israeli-manufactured pretext called "security" would be laughable.

Israeli newspapers routinely publish headlines such as the following, all of which appeared earlier this week: "[Israeli] High Court allows Gaza demolitions" (Ha’aretz, By Yuval Yoaz and Gideon Alon). This article’s lead stated that "[Israeli] Army's 'operational necessity' takes precedence." This High Court is the same that several years ago allowed for Palestinian political prisoners to be to tortured while under Israeli detention.

Indeed, the Israeli High Court has a long history of providing legal justification for the heinous actions of the Israeli military and the security services. This judicial carte blanche for Israel’s illegal occupation is worse than Israeli politicians publicly discussing which Palestinian is next on their assassination list or how Palestinians should be "transferred" out of their homes and cities once and for all. What Israel is doing is planned, organized, systematic and illegal. It is a wicked policy being discussed in full view of the public eye. On the other hand, Amnesty International, which historically has watered down the injustices inflicted upon Palestinians, has just released a report stating that, by destroying over 3,000 homes and causing damage to 16,000 more, and displacing thousands of Palestinians, making them refugees again for the umpteenth time, Israel is committing "war crimes." [2]

Yet the world remains silent.

As Professor Grinberg stated, "This is a dangerous policy. It poses an existential threat to the Palestinian people, but also to the state of Israel and its citizens, thereby endangering the entire Middle East."

Nothing could be closer to the truth. With every Palestinian assassinated from Israeli helicopter gunships, with every Palestinian home demolished, with every Palestinian illegally detained in Israeli prisons, ten times as many children are witnessing their ill fate before their very own eyes. Palestinian children now routinely climb on top of Israeli tanks invading their cities. Sadly, young Palestinians who have equated their life – the only life they know – under this brutal military occupation to death are being recruited to take innocent Israeli lives along with them while committing suicide themselves.

Victims of a naked aggression, Palestinians are slowly losing control of their society and being blamed for it as well. Israelis, too, are beginning to glorify death rather than life, as Israeli psychologist Yoram Yovel recently noted in an editorial in Ha’aretz newspaper (17 May 2004). He notes that what is happening in Gaza reflects a deep psychological process that Israeli society is undergoing, making it more and more similar to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

As the world powers watch the Palestinians being destroyed as a people, they have the arrogance and audacity to demand that a caged people develop and align their society’s institutions for inclusion in a globalized world. While the world’s sole superpower watches, funds and provides political cover for the maze of Israeli military checkpoints and cement walls being erected to encircle Palestinian cities, they have the nerve to preach to Palestinians about necessary governmental and economic reforms and WTO accession. As if economic liberalization is a solution for the humanitarian and political disaster facing the Palestinian people, the world’s organizations, including the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself, are acknowledging Israeli war crimes while casually sending more teams of foreign consultants to document the gravity of the situation and suggest boilerplate reforms.

Knowing Palestinians' ability to remain steadfast in the face of earthshaking odds, we would venture to bet that Palestinians will continue to sustain the damages being systematically inflicted upon them. Palestinian students will continue their studies, even in makeshift schools if necessary. Palestinian investors and businesspersons will continue to invest and over-extend themselves to maintain even the minimal level of jobs possible. Palestinian women, the real unknown soldiers, will continue to be the threads of steel that hold together the strongest Palestinian institution yet: the family.

All of this can be expected, not because President Bush has some kind of blurry vision that keeps getting repeated like a broken record, but rather because Palestinians are the owners of a just cause and have been programmed to survive, despite all odds, and will continue to juggle two extraordinary struggles, one to free themselves from military occupation and the other to build for statehood.

Why does the community of nations refuse the screaming calls for an international peace-keeping presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially and immediately in the Gaza Strip, to prevent further escalation and destruction? The least that the world could do is to stand between our two peoples, for both of our people’s sake, and theirs.

If, to use Professor Grinberg’s words again, "Silence under the present circumstances means acquiescence," then what does one call the United States’ blatant arming of, financial support for, and political cover of Israel’s – or its own in Iraq, for that matter -- current policy of destruction and self-destruction?

Indeed, "genocide" seems too accommodating a word to describe such examples of the arrogance of power.



[2] http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE150502004

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the besieged Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank and can be reached at sbahour@palnet.com. Dr. Michael Dahan is an Israeli-American political scientist living in Jerusalem and teaching at Ben Gurion University. He can be reached at mdahan@attglobal.net. This article was first published in News from Within.

Posted at 2:00:55 pm by palestine
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A phone call from under siege in Rafah

B. Samed writing from Gaza City, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 19 May 2004

It was just before midnight (Tuesday, May 18th.), when I tried to contact my friend Mohammad from the worst hit neighborhoods in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Earlier on, during the day, I made several attempts to contact my friend, but with no success. News from Rafah started to become extremely worrying about the high number of killed Palestinians at the Tel Al-Sultan area of Rafah.

The Israeli army killed fourteen people in the morning of Tuesday alone. Journalist inside the area talked over the phone about injured people in the streets bleeding to death and calling for immediate help. But, Israeli snipers prevented ambulances and private cars from reaching the dead or injured by shooting at any one who came near those lying in the middle of the street.

I was increasingly becoming worried Mohammad. I tried again and the phone rang on the other end of the line and finally after about a minute or so, a deep, low, and tired voice answered. Mohammad said that his house was actually in the middle of Israeli army military operations.

"I am talking to you and there is a tank right below our house. Apaches are flying above us and firing at surrounding houses. We are all now in one room and no one can leave it unless it is urgent," said Mohammed, who lives with his parents and seven brothers and sisters.

The normally upbeat and cheerful Mohammed spoke with a voice that reflected the deadly danger and extreme situation he was in. "It is death all around us," said Mohammad, continuing, "I tell you there are more than twenty bodies lying on the streets near our house. Some of them dead. Others are injured and bleeding to death waiting for ambulances to arrive. Israeli snipers occupied every tall building in the area and shoot at any moving object. They shoot at ambulances and rescue teams."

He also described how they were being restricted and confined to one room. To leave the room, they must crawl down to avoid being seen through the windows. Adults in the house prevent children from leaving the room. "What is worst about this is that children are going crazy when they hear the explosions of missiles and the firing from tanks. Imagine, when the soldiers in the tank below keep firing the heavy machine gun continuously for three minutes, with the terrible sound it makes. Children cannot take it. They go crazy."

Original AP caption: The bodies of Palestinian Ahmed Mughayer, 13, and his sister Asma, 16, right, are wrapped in blankets after being brought from the Talesultan area of the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 18, 2004. Both were on the roof of their three-story apartment building when they were hit by army fire, said their older brother, Ali. The shots were fired from an Israeli army position on the sixth floor of the neighboring building, he said. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
"What is really tragic is when we hear of voices next door or in the streets shouting for help and no one can step outside to save those people. Our neighbors, the Ghuneims, have lost two of their children, one twelve-year-old boy and his sixteen-year-old sister. Both of them went to the roof of the house and soon Israeli snipers shoot at them. Both brother and sister were bleeding and shouting for help as soldiers kept firing sporadically everywhere. We heard their voices and pain but no one could go and save them. Soldiers were firing at the whole place."

A couple of hours later, the brother and sister died on the roof of their house.

The phone line was cut suddenly and I tried to call again but to no vail.

Media sources reported the killing of more than twenty Palestinians that day and more than forty injured that day. Many Rafah residents pleaded through local radio stations to international organizations like UNRWA, Red Cross and Kofi Annan to allow ambulances and medical teams to reach their devastated areas.

People in Rafah know that the attack on Tel Al-Sultan area carries no significant military propose because the area is not adjacent to the border in which Israeli claim there are ongoing activities of weapons smuggling. Also, Israeli military posts and settlements overlook the area directly. One local municipal leader said that the attack by Israel on this area is "to kill for the sake of killing only."

The latest news from Rafah speaks of how the Israel army is demanding local people leave their homes and go to nearby schools. But Palestinian radio stations urged the people not to do so because Israeli soldiers and snipers are actually selecting young men from the crowds and shooting at them. A number of dead bodies are still lying in the open.

Posted at 11:32:11 am by palestine
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004
RAFAH: Emergency Medical Teams Prevented from Accessing the Injured and Dead

Tuesday 18th May 2004
Not content with launching a full-scale attack upon the residents of
Rafah killing 16 the Israeli occupation forces are preventing medical
teams from accessing the dead and injured. Despite international
condemnation of their attacks, the occupation forces have also defied
International Law yet again, by denying civilians the right to medical
care. The hospital in Rafah is overflowing with the casualties that
ambulances were able to reach, but those they could not lie dying in
their homes and streets. So far PMRS has received the following news:
Said Lemghayer (23) from the Tel El Sultan neighborhood in Rafah, died
instantly when Israeli snipers shot him whilst he was standing outside
his house. His family tried to transfer him to a hospital but the
occupation forces prevented the ambulance from reaching him. Snipers
have been planted on every rooftop in the area and are shooting at
anyone they see. As a result, repeated attempts by the ambulance to get
to Said were met with heavy firing. Eventually the family had to resort
to putting him in shop refrigerator that is normally used to store dairy
Fathi Abu Ermaneh (35) was shot in the neck by a sniper whilst standing
in the street. However, medical teams have not been able to reach him
because the snipers start shooting as soon as they attempt to move. He
remains in the street and because no one can reach him, they do not know
if he is dead or alive.
On the outskirts of Rafah, Munira As Siguli was injured whilst in her
house. Again, snipers have prevented the ambulance from reaching her, so
nobody knows whether she is dead or alive.
Witnesses have reported that there is film footage showing an ambulance
attempting to reach an injured person lying on the ground. Due to the
intense shooting the ambulance is prevented from doing so. In the end
one of the team has to get out of the ambulance and drag the body
towards the vehicle.
A woman from the Abu Ghali family in Tel Al Sultan attempted to get to a
hospital as she was about to give birth. Again she was prevented from
doing so and with aid of the local women, had to give birth at home,
placing the life of both Mother and child at risk.
A brother and sister from Tel Al Sultan, around ten and eleven years old
and called Ahmed and Asma AlMughayer, were shot whilst inside their
home. The ambulance was prevented from accessing them and the hospital
has now been informed that they bled to death. The hospital is appealing
to all human rights and humanitarian organizations to help them in
facilitating the transfer of these two dead children to hospital.
Ismail Balawi was killed a few hours ago after his son was killed this
morning. However, he has two children who are injured but stuck in their
house with ambulances unable to reach them. These two children are in a
very serious health situation as they are both bleeding heavily. We
again urge you to contact International Humanitarian organizations to
help ambulances to reach them.
There are many more reports about people being killed or injured in
areas such as Qadisia and Akbet bin Nafe' but because no one is allowed
to reach them, we are unable to confirm their condition.
The Abu Yusef Al Najar hospital used to be a local clinic but was
converted to a hospital when the Intifada started. It lacks many
amenities, including an intensive care unit. It has no electricity and
is now dependant on a generator. The hospital cannot receive all the
injured and three of the dead have had to be stored in a room because
there is not enough space in the morgue. After coordinating with the
Israelis, the hospital was given permission to transfer the injured to
the European and Nasser hospitals in Khan Yunis. However, once the
ambulances began to move the patients, they came under heavy fire, and
had to abandon the mission.
According to witnesses the Israeli soldiers have also imposed an ambush
around a series of ambulances. They allowed them to enter Tel Al Sultan
from Rafah in order to collect patients and transfer them to the Abu
Yousef Najar hospital in Rafah, but on their return journey the
occupation forces surrounded six of these ambulances preventing them
from leaving the Tel Al Sultan medical clinic. They also demolished the
clinic's fence.
In addition to the dead and injured, patients with chronic and
non-communicable diseases are being prevented from accessing treatment.
There are a considerable number of patients urgently requiring dialysis
and chemotherapy but can not get to hospital, which places their health
in a critical situation.
PMRS is asking the International community to contact all humanitarian,
human rights and health organizations to intervene by pressurizing the
Israeli occupation forces to allow the free movement of medical teams.
The Israeli occupation forces' appalling disregard for the Palestinians'
right to access to medical care must be prevented otherwise there will
be a serious humanitarian disaster in Rafah. Please ask all
organizations to contact:
Shaul Mofaz
Minister of Defense
Kaplan Street
Tel-Aviv 61909
Tel: +972 3 5692010
Fax: +972 3 6916940
Tommy Lapid
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street
Jerusalem 91010
Tel: +972 2 6708511
Fax: +972 2 6285438
Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
For further information please contact: pmrsupdates@yahoo.com

Posted at 10:11:02 am by palestine
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Monday, April 26, 2004
Liberty vs. safety

Benjamin Franklin once observed, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

It is impossible to me saying that it's not right and I really would love to hear your opinions about it.

Apartheid wall, checkpoints, curfew, daily incursions are all privation of the most elementary liberty.
Palestinians nowadays are deprived of liberty of movement, liberty of religion, they are denied the right of medical assistence, of education, of nationality.
They have no passport, on their IDs they are called Palestinians, but there is no country called Palestine..... so what are they? They are deprived of the right of identification.

Is all that really justified by the concept of preserving Israel's safety?
Is it right to deny all kinds of liberty to a people to preserve safety?

Have your say please.

Posted at 11:30:13 am by palestine
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Sunday, April 18, 2004
Rantisi and Yasin

'Abdul Aziz Al Rantisi

Sheikh Ahmed Yasin

I want to remember something reported by Dr. Atef Ibrahim Adwan, a professor of Political Science in the Islamic University of Gaza and a biographer of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who has written extensively on Palestinian history, Palestinian resistance and the history of Muslim-Jewish relations.

Asked about how did the Sheikh deal with Israelies on a personal level, he answered the following:

"Sheikh Ahmad Yassin as a Muslim was not against the Israelis as citizens or civilians, but he fought against the Israeli occupation.

I remember a story has been told to me by Dr. Rantisi, about a time when the Sheikh and Dr. Rantisi were driving their car at night and found an Israeli who had had an accident. They took him to the hospital and helped him. He did not hate Israelis as Jews, or as civilians, but as occupiers."

Posted at 2:03:53 pm by palestine
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Saturday, April 17, 2004

'Abdul Aziz Rantisi was born October 1947 in Yibna, a small town between Ashkelon and Jaffa. When he was 6 months old, the family were made refugees from the 1948 war. With 200,000 others, they fled to Gaza (then home to 80,000 people), expecting to return at war's end. Settled in Khan Younis Refugee Camp (second largest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, at that time under Egyptian rule).

1998 interview: Q: Have you visited Yibna? A: Yes, and I have seen our house. I found a right-wing family living there. Q: How did that affect you? A: Very strongly. The image of my city, as my parents have told me, my home and my parents' flight with me in their arms does not leave my mind. In general, the issue of forced exile from our homeland has had a profound effect on my thinking).
Grew up in extreme poverty; lived with parents, 8 brothers and 2 sisters in a tent for four years, then in an abandoned school building, before moving into an UNRWA mud house. Started working at age 6 to supplement father's income. An uncle was killed when Israel shelled Khan Younis RC in the Suez crisis of October 1956.

Rantisi attended the UNRWA secondary school in Khan Younis. Graduated top of his class in 1965. Egypt at that time offered university education to exceptional Gaza students who were too poor to pay tuition, and Rantisi began studying pediatric medecine at the University of Alexandria that fall. Professed no political or religious interests at that time, his main interest was in becoming a doctor. At Alexandria, he ran into a familiar face, Sheikh Mahmoud Eid, who had been imam of the mosque in Khan Younis when Rantisi was a child.

Rantisi completed his degree and returned to Gaza in 1972; founded the Gaza Islamic Centre in 1973. The Strip was by this time under Israeli occupation: its refugees camps provided thousands of recruits for Fatah and the PFLP, and anarchy ruled on the streets, with PLO activists targeting Israeli soldiers and local Palestinian collaborators. In 1974 he returned to Alexandria for his two-years Masters in Pediatrics. He Formally joined the Muslim Brotherhood on his return to Gaza in 1976. At that time he took up an internship at Nasser Hospital, the main medical facility in Khan Younis RC. (He was dismissed as head of Pediatrics there by the Israelis in 1983). He also joined the Faculty of Science at the Islamic University of Gaza, on its opening in 1978, teaching science, genetics and parasitology there.

Co-founder and principal spokesman of Hamas, he
 became Hamas' leader in the Gaza Strip on the assassination of Ahmad Yassin, 22 March 2004.

Today he died, brutally assassinated by Israeli Occupying Forces.

From the 1998 interview cited above:

I see that you have no security men. Aren't you afraid of being killed or assassinated?

Could I possibly have more security than Rabin had? And he was assassinated. We know that there are dangers but we have proven to Israel that they will pay a high price for any attack on us.

His words and his deeds are with us, and are an example for us.


The imperative is now as it should have always been:







Posted at 10:18:08 pm by palestine
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Friday, April 16, 2004
Mrs. Bush, We are ALL Palestinian Mothers

By Nahed Alsous

Mothers for Peace-International 


Dear Mrs. Laura Bush,

I read with great sadness the comments you made about your lack of sympathy for Palestinian mothers.

Palestinian mothers live their lives in total misery, pain and fear for their children that are either hungry, in prison or may never return. They endure occupation, poverty, humiliation and the killing of their children and husbands, but they continue on. All of this pain is more bearable than the outright negation of their motherhood by comments like yours and those of our media.

You say it is “so easy to empathize with Israeli families” that are afraid to send their children to a grocery store or bowling alley. What about innocent Palestinian children who are starved, humiliated or killed under the only occupation remaining on earth? Aren’t children all worthy of love, happiness, and sympathy regardless of their religion or ethnic background?

How can you then say, “Can I empathize with a mother who sends her child out to kill herself and others? No.”? Were your eyes not filled with tears, and your heart filled with agony at the pictures and stories of Palestinian children buried alive under the rubble of their homes in Jenin and Nablus? Were you not as outraged as the rest of world at Israel’s success at defying the international community by blocking the inquiry into what Amnesty International called “clear evidence of war crimes”?

Why could 462 Israeli reservists, who are career Israeli soldiers, sympathize with the suffering of Palestinians, but you can’t? Did their courageous statement “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people” not compel you to think: What makes teenagers, who are supposed to be full of adolescent self absorption, shallow egos and worries about the next pimple appearing before the prom, decide to kill themselves and others in such a painful and horrific way?

The answer, Mrs. Bush, is a ruthless 35-year-old occupation that continues to rob people of their dignity and denies them their basic human rights. The vast majority of Palestinian mothers - and I - do not by any means condone the killing of innocent people on either side. But to stop these desperate acts we must address the human rights and security of Palestinians and Israelis.

I am sure that, in your days as an educator, you taught children that stereotyping and collective characterization of an entire people as being faceless statistics is a very dangerous thing that leads to horrific acts like the Nazi Holocaust. Mrs. Bush, you too handed out the collective punishment of marginalizing and dehumanizing all Palestinian mothers for the actions of a few desperate people.

For Palestinian American mothers, it is especially painful when the First Mother of the United States of America dismisses our ability to be loving and nurturing mothers. I want to tell you about Palestinian mothers, for I speak from experience.

I am a Palestinian American mother, my mom was a Palestinian mother, and so was her mom and so on. I know first hand the amount of love and caring that Palestinian mothers try to give their children under the most extreme of circumstances.

My mother and several others in our town took all of the children to caves in the mountains during the 1967 war to protect us from potential massacres like Deir Yassin. My mother stayed up all night when one of us was sick. She cried when we were late from school for fear that soldiers had arrested us. She panicked when one got hurt playing outside. She stopped her social life completely when we had exams, she stayed up making tea and snacks as long as we were studying, and gave us hell when our grades were not up to her standards.

My mother dressed us in our best clothes to visit our Palestinian Christian friends to wish them a happy Easter or Christmas, carrying all kinds of gifts and goodies. Christian Palestinian mothers did the same during our holidays. Our Christian friends complained about their Palestinian Christian mothers not allowing them to eat ice cream cones in front of us during the month of Ramadan, because we were fasting.

My mother taught us by example the duty and honor of respecting and caring for our elders. She took excellent care of her immobile mother-in-law; our Palestinian grandmother. She fed and bathed her; she put arthritis cream on her aching body; she stayed up with my grandmother all night when she was too scared to sleep during the war.

My mother fell into a deep depression and her health spiraled downwards when her oldest daughter married an Arab American and moved far, far away to America. She swore she would never let me do the same, but then she willingly broke her own heart to allow me the opportunity of a good education in a safe environment. She was willing to cry over my departure every day until we reunited, to save me from going to a Palestinian university where soldiers attack on a regular basis whenever there was a student protest against the occupation.

My mother lived a horrible childhood, she and her family became refugees, fleeing their home in Jaffa in 1948. She went back with us some twenty years later as a tourist from the West Bank and knocked on the door of her old home asking if she could go in and take a quick look. The man that opened the door said no, but the Israeli mother said yes. Mom sobbed the whole time we were there, and so did we.

On the way out, as my little brother reached for a lemon from an old lemon tree, the man yelled at him. My mother shouted back “How dare you yell at him for picking a single lemon from a tree that was planted by his grandfather?” The Jewish mother seemed embarrassed by her husband’s actions. My mom signaled “thank you” with her red teary eyes and a nod of her head.

I did not understand at the time why the Israeli mother allowed Arab strangers in her home, nor why my mother was thanking her for allowing us into our grandfather’s house. I was not a mother then, which is why I did not understand. The lady did not speak Arabic and my mom did not speak Hebrew, they both spoke a Universal Motherly Language that goes straight from the heart, bypassing vocal cords and lips. Now I speak the Universal Motherly Language, so I understand!

My mother sounds great, doesn’t she? She certainly does not fit the profile of a mother raising her children to blow themselves up and kill other civilians. If she did, why bother with education or good grades? The truth is, she is very ordinary and typical of the vast majority of Palestinian mothers, who dedicate their entire lives to their children’s health, education and safety. If you ever get the chance to go and visit them in their homes you will have nothing but admiration and respect for their miraculous dedication and perseverance, much like mothers all over the world.

The author encourages your comments. Please e-mail her at nahed4peace@yahoo.com

Posted at 1:06:27 pm by palestine
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A Palestinian Christian in 1948

In these extracts from his memoir, Father Audeh Rantisi remembers the horrific scenes that confronted him, aged 11, when his family were brutally deported from their home of many generations to make what life they could for themselves in the refugee camps of Ramallah

Father Rantisi was born in Lyda, now the site of Ben Gurion Airport, in 1937. From 1955 to 1958 he attended the Bible College of Wales, moving in 1963 to continue his studies at Aurora College in the state of Illinois. He then served as a missionary in Sudan. In 1965 he opened the Evangelical Home for Boys in Ramallah, West Bank. In 1976 Father Rantisi was elected as Ramallah's deputy mayor and he is now the director of the orphanage of the Evangelical Home of Boys.

From "Blessed are the Peacemakers ...The History of a Palestinian Christian"

I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948. The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try.
       First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries. (My family had been in the town of Lydda in Palestine at least 1,600 years). Then, without water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days. The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving. Terror filled my eleven-year-old mind as I wondered what would happen. I remembered overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?

         We did not know what to do, except to follow orders and stumble blindly up the rocky hills. I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, who carried our only remaining possessions-a small tin of sugar and some milk for my aunt's two-year-old son, sick with typhoid.

        The horror began when Zionist soldiers deceived us into leaving our homes, then would not let us go back, driving us through a small gate just outside Lydda. I remember the scene well: thousands of frightened people being herded like cattle through the narrow opening by armed soldiers firing overhead. In front of me a cart wobbled toward the gate. Alongside, a lady struggled, carrying her baby, pressed by the crowd. Suddenly, in the jostling of the throngs, the child fell. The mother shrieked in agony as the cart's metal-rimmed wheel ran over her baby's neck. That infant's death was the most awful sight I had ever seen.

        Outside the gate the soldiers stopped us and ordered everyone to throw all valuables onto a blanket. One young man and his wife of six weeks, friends of our family, stood near me. He refused to give up his money. Almost casually, the soldier pulled up his rifle and shot the man. He fell, bleeding and dying while his bride screamed and cried. I felt nauseated and sick, my whole body numbed by shock waves. That night I cried, too, as I tried to sleep alongside thousands on the ground. Would I ever see my home again? Would the soldiers kill my loved ones, too?

        Early the next morning we heard more shots and sprang up. A bullet just missed me and killed a donkey nearby. Everybody started running as a stampede. I was terror-stricken when I lost sight of my family, and I frantically searched all day as the crowd moved along.

          That second night, after the soldiers let us stop, I wandered among the masses of people, desperately searching and calling. Suddenly in the darkness I heard my father's voice. I shouted out to him. What joy was in me! I had thought I would never see him again. As he and my mother held me close, I knew I could face whatever was necessary. The next day brought more dreadful experiences. Still branded on my memory is a small child beside the road, sucking the breast of its dead mother. Along the way I saw many stagger and fall. Others lay dead or dying in the scorching midsummer heat. Scores of pregnant women miscarried, and their babies died along the wayside. The wife of my father's cousin became very thirsty. After a long while she said she could not continue. Soon she slumped down and was dead. Since we could not carry her we wrapped her in cloth, and after praying, just left her beside a tree. I don't know what happened to her body.

       We eventually found a well, but had no way to get water. Some of the men tied a rope around my father's cousin and lowered him down, then pulled him out, and gave us water squeezed from his clothing. The few drops helped, but thirst still tormented me as I marched along in the shadeless, one-hundred plus degree heat.

       We trudged nearly twenty miles up rocky hills, then down into deep valleys, then up again, gradually higher and higher. Finally we found a main road, where some Arabs met us. They took some of us in trucks to Ramallah, ten miles north of Jerusalem. I lived in a refugee tent camp for the next three and one-half years. We later learned that two Jewish families had taken over our family home in Lydda.

        Those wretched days and nights in mid-July of 1948 continue as a lifelong nightmare because Zionists took away our home of many centuries. For me and a million other Palestinian Arabs, tragedy had marred our lives forever.
       Throughout his life my father remembered and suffered. For thirty-one years before his death in 1979, he kept the large metal key to our house in Lydda.
       After more than four decades I still bear the emotional scars of the Zionist invasion. Yet, as an adult, I see what I did not fully understand then: that the Jews are also human beings, themselves driven by fear, victims of history's worst outrages, rabidly, sometimes almost mindlessly searching for security. Lamentably, they have victimized my people.

       Four years after our flight from Lydda I dedicated my life to the service of Jesus Christ. Like me and my fellow refugees, Jesus had lived in adverse circumstances, often with only a stone for a pillow. As with his fellow Jews two thousand years ago and the Palestinians today, an outside power controlled his homeland-my homeland. They tortured and killed him in Jerusalem, only ten miles from Ramallah, and my new home. He was the victim of terrible indignities. Nevertheless, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who engineered his death, "Father, forgive them..."
Can I do less?

Posted at 12:32:58 pm by palestine
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Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Sheikh Ahmad Yasin

Qur'an 2:154:
YUSUFALI: And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. PICKTHAL: And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah "dead." Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not. SHAKIR: And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, (they are) alive, but you do not perceive.

"The Jewish people have drunk from the glass of suffering and lived dispersed around the world. Today this people wants to force the Palestinian people to drink from the same glass"

Shaik Ahmad Yasin, Hamas founder and spiritual leader

Sheikh Yasin was born in a village in Palestine, al Jura.
Now that village does not exist anymore.
It has been destroyed by Israelis.
He spent his life fighting the oppressor who invaded the Muslim land.
He used to pray Allah to let him die as a martyr.
He has been assassinated while going back home after Fajr prayer at the mosque.
All the Muslim brothers have vowed to revenge for his brutal killing, and most of western countries condemned this horrible crime as well.
Israel demonstrated once again that it doesn't care for Israelis' security, but it just wants to carry out his bloody policy, regardless how dearly Israeli citizens will pay for it.
That is it.
However he is not dead, he will not die, he will live in Allah's paradise and in our hearts forever inshallah.

Posted at 12:49:08 pm by palestine
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