GW Bush

Bush is World"s #1 Terrorist

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Palestinian children are not terrorists

Palestinian children are not terrorists: "Palestinian children are not terrorists


Terrorist is the label all too frequently attached to Palestinian children. Today, many Palestinian youngsters feel misjudged by a world choosing to condemn them rather than know them.

These children are confronted with a hard struggle: to find ways to clear their name and reputation in the media. They want others to realize their only fault was to be born under an occupation that stripped away their childhood.

The life of Palestinian children is far from normal. Their daily trips to school take hours instead of minutes. According to The Washington Post, there are 659 checkpoints, roadblocks, trenches and earthen walls in the West Bank. In recent days, Israeli settlers have twice attacked the Christian Peacemaker Team as they accompanied Palestinian children to their school. Those who do reach their schools are disoriented and tired, ill prepared to absorb anything on the syllabus that day.

Palestinian children quickly realize their parents cannot protect them. They think it's normal to witness the death of friends, Israeli gunmen firing into certain schools and the razing of homes. This is disastrous for us and not without consequence for Israel.

Recently, I was unable to give a guarantee to a child that Israeli soldiers would not harm him. In such an uncertain environment, children become helpless, aggressive, afraid, extremely disobedient or compliant, depressed and fatigued. The Gaza Community Mental Health Program has noted children are plagued by serious psychological ills caused by the stresses of military occupation.

Many Palestinian organizations are aware of what youngsters are going through and work to promote their well-being. These groups help Palestinian children channel their anger and positively serve their nation.

Today, due to the efforts of organizations such as the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation, some of these children resist the occupation by utilizing their creativity, ambition and enthusiasm. They invest significant energy in the search for meaningful and non-violent ways of contributing to freedom. Some help the victims of the occupation; others prefer to write about the current situation and help spread awareness.

While Palestinian children have chosen different paths in resisting the occupation, they are all trying their best to revive the nation's dying hope of a dignified life. Yet, as the occupation strikes over and over again, children lose confidence that justice is possible.

Contrary to the belief of many, young Palestinians are able to do much more than fling stones in desperation at tanks. If we help, children realize the importance of never giving up, no matter how trying their circumstances. It is not easy. And the world lets them down by voicing principles that are not enforced in the occupied territories.

I urge you not to misjudge our young heroes who are trying to secure a normal life. The courage of the children of Birmingham, Ala., half a century ago is not unknown to our own children. What is missing is the needed media coverage and American empathy as day in and day out another Palestinian child is killed or injured.

We should protect the lives of Palestinian and Israeli children. At this writing, more than 550 Palestinian children and 100 Israeli children have been killed in the past four years. I am convinced by my short visit here that Americans are fair-minded and care for all children.

The U.S. government's backing for almost all of Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's actions, however, comes at the expense of justice for Palestinians and safety for Israelis and for Palestinians. Children need the help of the American people rather than the one-sided rhetoric of your presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Marianne Albina, a Palestinian activist, is on a national speaking tour with Partners for Peace. She will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Call the World Affairs Council at 206-441-5910 for more information.


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