May 25, 2002
Palestinian official speaks in Houston

From today's Chron:

Dalal Salamah, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was in Houston on Friday to issue a plea for aid as well as understanding for fellow Palestinians.

"There is a need to talk about our situation," Salamah said in an interview.

"Through the media, people are able to see the attacks and the damage, but the daily life -- how people manage their daily lives. I want to paint a real picture of how they manage to live," Salamah said.

Yes, let's do take a look at it.

As she spoke Friday, the Israeli army was surrounding the Palestinian city of Ramallah with barbed wire, blocking what was a way to leave and enter Ramallah without passing checkpoints.

The move, according to international aid officials, is the first step in an Israeli plan to encircle all eight major cities of the West Bank, and their outlying villages, including Salamah's home, Nablus.

"There is no semblance of normal life in the camps and villages now," said Salamah.

"In Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, each city and refugee camp is separated from the others. Sixteen cities, totally separated from one another," Salamah said.

"Some people who tried walking (from one village to another) to get milk and bread for their kids died," she said. "They are suffering because they have finished their water, their own wells are empty."

"No laborers may now go into Israel, or between Nablus, Jerusalem, or the other villages," Salamah said. "They must stay in their villages.

Yeah, you unleash a few suicide bombers on someone and all of a sudden they get all security conscious. Imagine that.

"The students in the schools cannot get to the university. Ambulances may come to sick people, but they are forbidden from taking people in the ambulances, they must leave them there," she said.

You don't suppose the fact that ambulances have been used as cover and transportation for Palestinian gunmen has anything to do with that, do you?

Salamah said she wants to talk about those things, as well as "the difference between the national struggle (against Israeli occupation) and terrorism."

"We condemn terrorism," she said, adding that suicide bombings carried out in Israel "are acts of young people and some political parties."

"It is condemned by me and by the Palestinian Authority. But how can we explain to the younger generation, they are not allowed to bomb themselves in Israel while the Israeli forces attack Palestinian villages and camps?"

We all know how those denunciations of terrorism by Arafat and the PA have done so much to curtail the suicide bombings. Perhaps if the bombers weren't lauded as martyrs and if their families weren't given thousands of dollars as a reward, that might help. Perhaps you could try explaining to the younger generation that the attacks are the result of the suicide bombs, that might help. Perhaps if your leadership weren't committed to the total destruction of the state of Israel, that might help. I'm just saying.

I won't have sympathy for your cause until such time as whoever is actually in charge there genuinely punishes those who aid and abet the suicide bombers. Put someone in charge who actively works to promote peace and stop violence, and then we can talk.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 25, 2002 to Around the world