4.1025 The War: A Palestinian View (1/91)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 13 Feb 91 22:29:05 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1025. Wednesday, 13 Feb 1991.

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 1991 11:52 EST
Subject: The War: A Palestinian View

I have read the many postings from Isreal since the outbreak of Desert
Storm with both concern for the civilians who are subjected to the
terrible stress of sudden air raid warnings and destruction of
neighborhoods and a growing anxiety about the fate of the Palestinians
in the West Bank.

The following transcription of a fax message is forwarded with the
permission of Jennifer Bing-Canar, the addressee:

P.O. Box 66
Ramallah, West Bank
Via Israel
(Tel. 972-2-956230, same for fax 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.)
To: Jennifer & John Bing-Canar
Fax #: 00-1-312-427-4171
From: Khalil Mahshi

Date: 25 January, 1991

1 - I hope that you are both well and that the movement against
the crazy war is growing.

2 - Unfortunately, I, and many others, have been proven wrong
regarding our earlier feelings that war in the Gulf would not
take place.

Here, we have been living a situation of extreme alert since the
beginning of war. Moreover, we have been under continuous curfew
for the past nine days. The army has lifted the curfew twice,
each time for three hours, to buy food. The streets were full of
people hurrying to empty the grocery stores. I think next time
the curfew is lifted for a short period we will not find food in

Other than Jerusalem, the vast majority of people in the West
Bank and Gaza have no gas masks. Fortunately, the four Iraqi
rocket attacks on Israel so far have not carried chemical heads.
Moreover, we have no sirens to warn us of attacks. We keep
watching Israel TV and radio to know when we should enter the
rooms we have sealed for chemical attacks. So, we have developed
a system of interdependence. We take shifts in sleeping. We alert
others by phone and are alerted by others. So far, we have been
safe and doing well. We have Suheir's parents staying with us. To
help each other psychologically, we have been doing some things
together, like playing cards and other games. Obviously, the
kids are enjoying my unusual and extended presence at home.

I have decided that, since three days, the home situation allows
me to resume doing some work for the School and on other matters.
The atmosphere has become more relaxed and the rest of the family
members feel more safe and less tense. Therefore, I am writing to
thank you and to raise two concerns with you.

3 - The first concern is a general one: the curfew imposed by the
Israel army on the West Bank and Gaza. The army claims that it is
imposing it because they are afraid that we will take to the
streets in support of Iraq. Now that all indications are that
the war is going to be long we do not know how long the curfew
would be.

People need to work, produce, earn an income, provide services,
communicate, get out of their houses - in short live as normal a
life as possible. The Israeli authorities should not be allowed
to hold the whole Palestinian population under their military
rule prisoners, hostages, or under house arrest for the rest of
the period of the crazy war in the Gulf. We all should try to do
something about it. If this goes on, we will be further
imoverished and forced into ignorance. It is a slow massacre.

4 - Besides the general situation, my special concern is
education and the Ramallah Friends Schools. You know that we have
been struggling to overcome the big gap which has been created in
levels of education in the West Bank since the beginning of the
intifada because of the lengthy closures of schools imposed by
the army. This extended curfew will just add to our educational
problem. It will add, as well, the financial crisis that some
educational institutions, like the Ramallah Friends Schools, have
been facing. It seems that the financial collapse of such
institutions is becoming more imminent under the present and the
near-future circumstances unless something serious is done about
this matter. I hope that you can raise these issues within AFSC
and with Quakers at large and other NGOs. We have to think of
ways to secure more protection for the Palestinians under
occupation and to raise more relief/emergency assistance/money to
help us survive.


K. Mahshi