Saving Palestinian children

Dr. Hanan AshrawiSaving Palestinian children

I was at a fundraiser Saturday night for The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a non-profit that provides medical aid, surgeries, and medical supplies for Palestinian children, many of whom were wounded and maimed by Israeli military.

They fly children to other countries to have badly needed surgeries, to receive prosthetic devices, for open heart surgery, things like that. They also ship medical equipment to the occupied areas, so that, for example, a Palestinian child with no legs can now have a wheelchair and thus his parents no longer have to carry him from room to room as they may have been forced to do for years. Can you imagine how this simple gift of a wheelchair could transform a child’s life?

It is a sad commentary on our times that the MC had to emphasize they are a legal non-profit. All money goes to helping the kids, that only supplies (and no money) are distributed. Everything they ship to the occupied areas is cleared by the State Department. This, of course, is in response to Ashcroft’s religious zealots who think any Arab charity is immediately suspect.

There were about 800 people at the dinner, and during the course of the evening they raised $125,000, with two people donating $10,000 each! The keynote speaker was the internationally recognized Palestinian spokesperson, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.

She spoke quietly and eloquently of the plight of Palestinians in the occupied areas, with 30% malnutrition among children and 70% of the population living below the poverty level. They can’t leave the little area they live in, as Israeli military won’t allow it. They are shot at, attacked by missiles and helicopters, and their homes are bulldozed.

She wants a two state solution. However, given the Israeli tactic of assassinating Palestinian leaders – which assumes there will be a retaliatory suicide bomber that Israel can then use an a pretext for more assassinations, well, the violence spirals out of control. And innocents on both sides — she emphasized “both sides” — are too often maimed, disfigured, and traumatized.

The absolutist view held by the U.S., black and white with no shades of gray, scares her. Such Dualism, when combined with the belief that God is on your side means a zero sum game in which for me to win, you must lose. She also wonders when the U.S. will have the courage to stand up against Israel and say no to such apartheid atrocities as the “security wall” now being constructed.

She said Samuel Huntington’s widely circulated thesis of a “clash of civilizations” is merely an excuse by the “semi-literate” for invasion and occupation (!).

She views Palestinians as oppressed and fighting for their freedom and self-determination. In a memorable line that drew huge applause, she said “Palestinians are the only people who are told by the world they must make peace with their occupiers”.

I went with friends and at our table of ten, two were Jewish…