Palestinian women protest Chirac’s proposals

January 06, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Palestinian children collect pictures of militants [terrorists] like baseball cards" (AP, Dec. 23, 2003)
2. "Israel to give terror money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families" (Israel Radio, Jan. 4, 2004)
3. "Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban" (AP, Jan. 5, 2004)
4. Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month (Ha'aretz, Jan. 6, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four articles relating to the Palestinians, with summaries first:

1. "Palestinian children collect pictures of militants like baseball cards" (By Ali Daraghmeh, The Associated Press, Dec 23, 2003). "Palestinian children are collecting cards showing gunmen and soldiers the way American kids trade baseball cards, and some educators are concerned that the uprising hobby is helping to breed a new generation of militants... The cards are an enormous hit, according to Majdi Taher, who makes them. He said that 6 million cards have been sold over two years and 32,000 albums this month alone in the two main population centers of the northern West Bank - huge numbers in a territory about 1 million Palestinians live, and he plans to expand his business... In the West Bank, Palestinian militants carry their weapons openly on the streets and gain the adulation of the young. More than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers have carried out attacks against Israelis, becoming folk heroes in their home towns... A child who fills an album with all 129 pictures can win a computer, a bicycle, a watch or a hat."

2. "Israel to give money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families." (Israel radio, Jan. 4, 2004). The Sharon government has authorized the transfer of 1.5 million shekels confiscated from terrorists during IDF operations in the Gaza Strip to Palestinian families, for the purchase of food.

3. "Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban" (The Associated Press, Jan. 5, 2004). "Some 300 female supporters of Islamic Jihad marched Monday through the streets of Gaza City protesting a French proposal to bar Muslim women from wearing headscarves in state schools... The protests come after French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament to ban the wearing of the "hijab," or head scarf, and other conspicuous religious symbols - such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses - in public schools to protect the country's secular nature."

4. "Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month" (Ha'aretz, Jan 6, 2004). "Palestinian Kidnappers of a child who was taken from [the Israeli Arab town of] Baka al-Gharbiyeh a month ago yesterday freed him and family friends brought him home safe and sound. Taher Ibrahim al-Touri was kidnapped from outside his home one day before his 8th birthday, on December 8. Dozens of [Israeli] policemen accompanied by a helicopter, border police and mounted troops searched for Taher... "We put everything we had into this investigation, assuming all the time Taher was still alive. All we thought of was saving his life," said police chief Chief Superintendent Yaron Zamir."

 



FULL ARTICLES

ISRAEL TO GIVE MONEY CONFISCATED IN GAZA TO PALESTINIAN FAMILIES

Israel to give money confiscated in Gaza to Palestinian families
Israel radio
January 4, 2004

The government has authorized the transfer of 1.5 million shekels confiscated from terrorists during IDF [Israel Defence Forces] operations in the Gaza Strip to Palestinian families.

Our correspondent was told that the money is earmarked for the purchase of food for Palestinian families and improving living conditions for Palestinians in Rafah.

 

PALESTINIAN WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST FRENCH HEADSCARF BAN

Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban
The Associated Press
January 5, 2004

Some 300 female supporters of Islamic Jihad marched Monday through the streets of Gaza City protesting a French proposal to bar Muslim women from wearing headscarves in state schools.

Chanting, "Islamic women against the French orders," the women marched to the French cultural center here in a show of solidarity with their Muslim sisters in France.

The protests come after French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament to ban the wearing of the "hijab," or head scarf, and other conspicuous religious symbols - such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses - in public schools to protect the country's secular nature.

The women in Gaza, all wearing traditional head coverings and carrying Palestinian flags and black Islamic Jihad flags, marched through the streets of downtown Gaza waving signs in Arabic, English and French.

"Where is the religious freedom that the West was championing day and night," read one of the signs.

Arriving at the cultural center, a group of women handed in a petition signed by the "women of Palestine," calling Chirac to "immediately retract the decision and to allow Muslim females to wear the hijab, a symbol of purity, honor and modesty."

The French decision has sparked an outcry in many Muslim countries, where Islamic leaders have said the hijab is a mandatory religious obligation.

But Chirac recently received some backing when a leading Egyptian cleric, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, ruled last week that Muslim women should respect French laws.

The French proposal creates the impression that the West is anti-Islam, said marcher Rawia Ahmed, 32.

"Muslims, faced by such a decision, will lose confidence in the western principles of democracy, justice and human rights," she said

 

KIDNAPPED 8 YEAR OLD BROUGHT SAFELY HOME FROM PA

Kidnapped 8-year old brought safely home after being held in PA for a month
By Eli Ashkenazi
Ha'aretz
January 6, 2004

Kidnappers of a child who was taken from Baka al-Gharbiyeh a month ago yesterday freed him and family friends brought him home safe and sound. The kidnappers released the eight-year-old boy in the Palestinian Authority and fled after notifying police where he was.

Taher Ibrahim al-Touri was kidnapped from outside his home in Baka al-Gharbiyeh one day before his 8th birthday, on December 8. "Someone asked him for water and took him. His brother came home in tears, saying that Taher was gone," recalled his father Ibrahim.

Dozens of policemen accompanied by a helicopter, border police and mounted troops searched for Taher for a week, but in vain.

Ten days later Taher's father received a telephone call demanding a NIS 300,000 ransom. This was when the police realized the child had been kidnapped and began negotiating with them, together with Ibrahim.

"We put everything we had into this investigation, assuming all the time Taher was still alive. All we thought of was saving his life," said Iron police chief Chief Superintendent Yaron Zamir.

Ibrahim al-Touri yesterday sat smiling widely on his balcony in the Shukpan quarter north-east of the town, surrounded by relatives, friends and neighbors.

"Last night Taher appeared in my dream for the first time since his disappearance," he said. "I woke up and said, today Taher is coming back. A few hours later the phone rang and they said they want to give me back my boy."

Taher himself ran in and out of the house and among the guests, who were calling him for a hug or a handshake. Every few minutes he stood up to be photographed. "Taher means pure, look at him, he really is pure," said Ibrahim.

Taher said he had been held by his kidnappers in a small room with an iron cot and no mattress. "They gave him food, he even gained weight," said Ibrahim.

Taher spoke of the first time he heard his father's voice on the telephone, 10 days after his abduction. "When I heard father's voice I was happy. But the people who took me tried to tell me it wasn't my father. I didn't believe them," he said.

The Iron police had negotiated with the kidnappers for three weeks, and as the search dragged on, fears for Taher's safety grew. Police looked into a dispute between the boy's father, Ibrahim, and his two brothers, as a possible reason for the kidnapping.

At the beginning of the investigation the police suspected Ibrahim of being involved in his son's disappearance. "It hurt me that they suspected me, but I was not angry. Today it is clear that I was right. Today I thank the police for a job well done."

The imam of the "old mosque" in Baka al-Garbiyeh, Nasser Nasser, who came to make a blessing, said "I prayed the whole time. Deep in my heart I believed it would end well."

Yesterday morning Ibrahim received a phone call telling him of Taher's whereabouts. "They must have given up. They told me they were taking him to Jordan. I tried to sound unmoved, I told them I'm not worried, I have family there. They realized they weren't going to get any money and caved," he said.

Ibrahim notified the police and after consulting him it was decided to send two close family friends to collect Taher from the PA, where he had been held. "I wasn't afraid to go," said Nimer Ka'adan, who went to pick Taher up. "Anyone who kidnaps a child is not a real man," he said.

 

PALESTINIAN CHILDREN COLLECT PICTURES OF MILITANTS LIKE BASEBALL CARDS

Palestinian children collect pictures of militants like baseball cards
By Ali Daraghmeh
The Associated Press
December 23, 2003

Palestinian children are collecting cards showing gunmen and soldiers the way American kids trade baseball cards, and some educators are concerned that the uprising hobby is helping to breed a new generation of militants.

The cards are an enormous hit, according to Majdi Taher, who makes them. He said that 6 million cards have been sold over two years and 32,000 albums this month alone in the two main population centers of the northern West Bank - huge numbers in a territory about 1 million Palestinians live, and he plans to expand his business.

The card craze reflects reality in the West Bank, where three years of Palestinian-Israeli violence has become the dominant reality for children. Israeli soldiers enforce curfews, confining residents to their homes, and often carry out raids in towns and villages, looking for militants.

Sometimes children throw rocks at Israeli soldiers or are caught up in exchanges of gunfire. At least 319 Palestinian children under the age of 18 have been killed in the conflict.

In the West Bank, Palestinian militants carry their weapons openly on the streets and gain the adulation of the young. More than 100 Palestinian suicide bombers have carried out attacks against Israelis, becoming folk heroes in their home towns.

The collectable cards depict real-life Middle East action figures familiar to the children: An Israeli soldier shooting a large gun, a soldier forcing Palestinians off their land, a small Palestinian child dressed in militant's clothing holding a toy gun and Palestinian boys throwing stones.

The albums are sold in cardboard boxes shaped like Israeli tanks and include a dedication from Nablus governor Mahmoud Alul. A child who fills an album with all 129 pictures can win a computer, a bicycle, a watch or a hat.

Some teachers and parents are concerned about the new fad, trying to forbid their children from buying the pictures, saying they are teaching children violence and forcing them to grow up too quickly.

"I take hundreds of these pictures from children every day and burn them," said Saher Hindi, 28, a teach at a Nablus elementary school. "They turn children into extremists."

The desire to fill the albums has captivated children in Nablus and Ramallah, teachers say, keeping them from their homework as they spend all their money cent on the cards.

It's a business success for Taher, who said he plans to expand the sale of the cards and albums to other West Bank towns.

The former candy salesman said he means for the album and pictures to be a history lesson. Children who are now seven cannot remember incidents from the start of the fighting three years ago, Taher said.

"I am writing the history of the intefadeh (uprising) in pictures," Taher said. "I collected these pictures from journalists, and I want people to remember this all their lives."


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.