Sunday, December 24, 2006

The "Best" Christmas Season Anti-Israel Story

Goes to the Independent (well, so far. there's another day left to go).

Here it is:-

Independent Appeal: 'What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today?'

Johann Hari on the plight of pregnant women in the West Bank, where babies are dying needlessly

Published: 23 December 2006

In two days, a third of humanity will gather to celebrate the birth pains of a Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem - but two millennia later, another mother in another glorified stable in this rubble-strewn, locked-down town is trying not to howl.

Fadia Jemal is a gap-toothed 27-year-old with a weary, watery smile. "What would happen if the Virgin Mary came to Bethlehem today? She would endure what I have endured," she says.

Fadia clutches a set of keys tightly, digging hard into her skin as she describes in broken, jagged sentences what happened. "It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on," she says. She was already nervous about the birth - her first, and twins - so she told her husband to grab her hospital bag and get her straight into the car.

They stopped to collect her sister and mother and set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. "Obviously, we told them we couldn't wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn't understand."

Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. "I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital," she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could "certainly" have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.

A. The Virgin Mary was Jewish and she wouldn't be suspected of carrying dynamite.
B. Even if Israel wasn't in the territories, the level of medical service would not appreciatively improve.
C. Er, when was this? Any corroboration?

And here's another reading of internal Pal. politics:-

But Mr Abu Latifa, 51, having been a lifetime Fatah supporter, voted for Hamas, the hardline Islamic movement that won the last elections. It was his way of punishing Fatah for its many failings. "They were crooks, thieves and warlords," he said, sitting on a plastic chair in the sun outside his shop. "They still haven't cleaned themselves up." The rest of his family, including his four teenage children and his brother and sister, are still Fatah supporters.

A few yards further along the street are others who vow to remain lifelong Fatah loyalists. Working next to them are overtly religious families who back Hamas. At least one other shopkeeper in the street refuses to vote at all. All speak anxiously about the factional violence and fear of civil war that has gripped the Palestinian territories in the past weeks. But many also share a profound frustration with all their political leadership.

"Each of our leaders has his own gang and every one of them tries to impose his own agenda," said Mr Abu Latifa. "That makes it hard to have real democracy, where the decision of the people is respected. They have let us down, they are continually letting us down and we can't see any way out."

The economic slump that has gripped the Palestinian territories this year is part of the frustration. Mr Abu Latifa has owned his shop, with its shelves of dolls, plastic children's guns, computer disks and Christmas wrapping paper, for 16 years. This year has been his hardest yet, he said. All through the morning he has only one or two customers.

"We have people with their own interests, benefiting from the Palestinian Authority, while most of the people want a fair peace, sovereignty and stability," he said. "This is our tragedy."

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