My Concern for the people of Palestine

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I am American. I live in Palestine. I feel for my people and our country. I wish I were there to share in our grief. The people here in Palestine have been very supportive of me and sat with me for hours watching the news. We sat for hours in a surreal reality while watching the WT towers collapse. It took me three days to feel as though I could think and function regarding normal life issues. Our TV was on at least 15 hours the first day and we were up until 4:00am. No one could sleep. My condolences and pain, being a fellow American goes to everyone involved.

However, I do have one major concern: I have not yet heard on CNN (the major news network in the states) asking the question as to “why” would someone want to attack the WTC and Pentagon? These are VERY important questions that need to be asked to get to the root cause for this horrific action against our people. People in America need to look at themselves and our government to analyze what we may have done to create such hatred. Then and only then would the problem of terrorism really get solved. I just heard a story about one radio commentator that tried to ask this question and pointed to the Palestine/Israel conflict; he was cut off the air.

I am also concerned regarding the terrorism situation. As we well know it took long term planning to accomplish this attack had to entail cooperation from many different factions of terrorist cells. These cells are located all over the entire world, therefore the war, I believe will involve intra structural attacks on many countries from within their own citizens within these terrorist cells. They have had many years of planning for such a thing and I am sure that they did not ignore the retaliation factor involved with such an action. These people do have a back up plan, I believe and not only our country is at stake but countries all over the world’s safety is at stake.

On this side, the Palestinians held prayer vigils, both Muslim and Christian together. They have held support marches while sharing in our grief. Unfortunately, the worldwide press doesn’t show such things. I saw at least one thousand gathered together for this cause. It was tear jerking to say the least. There is an Interesting view of the Palestinian people; they truly feel that they share in our own grief. They too are flaunted daily with F16 bombers flying over head threatening missile fire even on civilian homes. I could go into the oppression of the Palestinian people in greater detail (more than what I have written) and the numbers are astounding, but at this time I will not.

I have a concern over the Arab anti-sentiments occurring on the news in America today. I know many of the Arabs all over the world are outstanding citizens and hard honest workers. I myself, come from a very proud Arab family who migrated to America in the late 1800’s searching for the freedom that America would provide. My great-grandparents became American; they owned businesses, invented products that are still used to this day and contributed to our society with pride and honor. They were truly happy to become American in every since of what America stood for. They helped other Arabs immigrate into our free country and shared in their wealth. In fact my family was the second Lebanese family to immigrate into our wonderful country. Not all Arabs are terrorist.

My voice cannot be quiet during this time of International grief and sadness, while I sit here at night and listen to the bombing inside of the West Bank towns that surround me. I know that at that very moment, people are dying and getting forced out of their destroyed homes. Water is getting shut off, electricity is getting shut off, the phone lines are cut off and these people have no place to go and are without resources. I turn on the news and there is nothing said of this crime. Many and still more are dying under this occupation, while the eyes of the world are on the news and rightly so, of America. I cannot sit quiet while I see the increased bombardment that is occurring here with the leadership taking advantage of the situation that has arose in America. It saddens my soul. It saddens my soul about terrorism, this war with words, this war with guns and planes.

Part of this war in Palestine, Israel is using the media for their gain, a different type of war both on land and on the airwaves. This war is real and deadly for those involved. I cannot sell one story to anyone regarding the oppression of these people. Not one. I have spoken to many other journalists who are having the same problems here and overseas. I can write for free to alternative news sites, which has little money and few international readers. Yet, the Palestinians are a people who continue to be ignored around the world. Their frustration is without any hope while corruption resides within their own community. Bombs drop daily, live ammunition rings through the air, missiles fly onto any building that resembles a Palestinian police office, security building to their complete devastation and destruction and killing many civilians at the same time. Homes are being bulldozed misplacing many families at a time pushing them into tent dwellings while bringing memories of their past. The view of southern Gaza is likened to that in 1948 when there were not any homes and the people lived in tents. Then again in 1967 their homes were destroyed once again finding themselves having the build new homes for the second time, and now once again, for the third time those homes are gone and replaced by tents.

Closures in Hebron continue allowing people to come out of their homes only a few hours a day. It is now over 200 days of curfew in 11 months since the Intifada, the children have missed a considerable amount of school because of this closure. University students cannot go to classes, because the IDF set up a checkpoint in front of the University. Men have lost their businesses and cannot find work; the unemployment rate in Palestine is 80%. The list goes on and on only to be unseen by the International World.

The Palestinian are a people without and identity or nationality. In spite of the historical facts, here is what Doctor Eyad Sarraj said in 1997, it is like to be a Palestinian then: I added what I see today.

They “are given an identity number and a permit to reside.” Now, most of the permits and identity cards are taken away at the local checkpoints when someone tries to exit. This creates for them the lack of freedom to leave that area forever. Some cannot go to work on the other side of that checkpoint and this is how many have lost their jobs.

If a Palestinian wants to leave the country for a trip, they cannot be gone for more than three years or they loose that residence. ” You are given a laissez passez, a traveling document, valid for one year and it tell them in the particulars that they are of an undefined nationality.” Now, no one can get out of their villages, let alone out of the country.

“Israeli occupation means that they are called twice a year by intelligence for routine interrogation and persuasion to work as an informer on your brothers and sisters. No one is spared. If you are a member of a political organization you will be sentenced for ten years. For military action you will be sentenced to life.” Today, I have heard of many horrifying stories regarding these interrogations and jail situations. These are all too shocking to mention. These stories include drug inducement and torture.

For their survival, they are “given a chance to work in the jobs that Israelis do not like, sweeping the streets, building houses (even the settlement homes), collecting fruit or harvesting. If a Palestinian lives in Gaza, (I know this from my own work) they have to leave at 3-4am to go through the road blocks and checkpoints to work in Israel only to return home to collapse in a bed for a few hours before starting another day.” I have seen the buses for those workers who left, there was not enough sitting room and many were standing during the long drive back into Gaza following a hard day in the sun. Today, the workers do not leave Gaza, they cannot. Thousands upon thousands are now unemployed.

Dr. Sarraj asks that, “If anyone knew what it is like to get spat on in front of their children and to get beat up by the IDF in front of their eyes?” He feels that, “The children learn to watch in silence pretending not to see the torture of others and the humiliation of their fathers. The children have lost respect for their fathers and have become the “children of stones”

The Palestinians feel that they have tried everything both now and in their past. When Arafat signed the peace treaty in Washington they were “jubilant thinking that they were finally to get rid of the miserable life under Israeli military occupation.” They could wonder the streets in the evenings; the curfews were lifted and go to the beach during the day.

Then came a new leader, Netanyahu. He refused to meet with Arafat, refused to free Palestinian prisoners and provide safe passage for them to move between the West Bank and Gaza. Arafat then called for patience for his people and the Palestinians became patient still with hope. Then the settlements started to get built in Jerusalem and driving the rest of the Palestinians out of their homes. Once again settlers in Hebron became more violent and spat on the people. Dr. Sarraj said that, “The Palestinian Authority officials began driving big cars and building big villas. They acquired VIP cards and crossed the checkpoints like human beings, while the common working families were left and ignored.”

And the world wonders why they are angry, hurt and feeling hopeless. I do not agree with suicide bombers, but I understand why they have come to this. They are willing to forego their own lives in the hopes of attention and someone to hear their voice. They want to grip the world’s attention into pressuring Israel to stop their building settlements, roads and increasing checkpoints. They want the missile attacks to stop and the bulldozers to turn off their engines. They want a nationality and a name put on the map. It has been 34 years of occupation of this manner. The children will continue to throw stones until one day, if ever, the miserable lives they lead is once and for all over.

Is it not time to ask the big “Why” question regarding this recent tragedy in America? I feel that if we don’t ask why, the violence will continue all around the globe and the threat of terrorism will not just go away. If we would stop for a moment and ask, what do the Arab nations see when they pick up a bullet or a part of a missile, or what kind of plane/helicopter attacked them. They see the imprint of the U.S.A. that imprint occurs on almost every piece of destructive device that has been aimed to their communities. (100% here in the West Bank and Gaza) They connect us with the ones who are pulling the triggers against them. Iraq, Iran, Syria and other countries see our stamp. Someone told me, “well we sell the product, and they pull the trigger.” I say, we stop selling the product to those who we know are going to pull the trigger. It is not a matter of religion or race that should be spoken here; it is a matter listening to the stones that cry out, it is a matter of humanity.

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