By Susan Schwartz, TMO
The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual â€œHealing Handsâ€ banquet/fundraiser this past weekend at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, Ca. Internationally known and acclaimed Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diana Buttu, was the keynote speaker.
During her address Ms Buttu exposed the fallacy of the so-called Peace Process. The 1993 Oslo Peace accords were a ploy by Israel which gave the Palestinians nothing and permitted Israel to triple its illegal settlements in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.
While the Palestinians suffer under the continued yoke of occupation, Israel, using the illusion of a peace process, has tricked 34 other nations into establishing diplomatic and economic relations leading to considerable economic benefit to Israel.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to the pre-Oslo Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has become Israelâ€™s surrogate, subcontracting for Israel in imposing the occupation and doing Israelâ€™s all around dirty work. This has often been called â€œoutsourcing the occupation.â€
Ms Buttu said that there were advantages and disadvantages to submitting an application for statehood to the United Nations. For example, of course it would bring renewed attention on an international scale to the suffering of the Palestinian people. But she asked her audience to consider as a considerable disadvantage the wording of President Mahmoud Abbasâ€™ application in which he used the tern â€œJewish Stateâ€. Is this de facto recognition?
Ms Buttu suggested the following remedies: We need to demand better representation; we need to demand democratic representation so that our leaders are not tools of the occupation and represent the will of the people. Useless negotiations should be replaced with world wide boycott and divestment of Israel.
Ms Buttu is a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently resides in Palestine and served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. In 2004 she was part of a legal team that successfully challenged Israelâ€™s Apartheid Wall before the International Court of Justice. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Queens University, Stanford University and Northwestern.
Ms Buttu has appeared on television news shows and is valued for her knowledge, experience and sense of fair play.
Nurse Asma Taha of Loma Linda University Hospital received the Huda Sosebee award for her humanitarian work. She has made numerous trips to the Middle East with the PCRF and has supported the PCRF in the United States.
Huda Sosebee, the late wife of PCRF CEO Steve Sosebee, was the lead social worker for the PCRF and one of its leading humanitarians during her all too brief life. She was known as the â€œheartâ€ of the organization.
The Southern California chapterâ€™s leader, Lily Karam, spoke movingly of the children who have been helped and of the need to continue PCRFâ€™s work.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund is an internationally known and acclaimed childrenâ€™s charity, specializing in the Middle East. PCRF is perhaps best known for its medical missions which send teams of doctors and associated medical personnel to countries in the Middle East to treat needy children there. The teams also train Middle Eastern doctors on site.
If a child cannot be adequately treated in his or her home site, the child is transported, at no cost to the parents, to a country where optimum medical care is available.
PCRF announced at last yearâ€™s banquet that it would enter the field of pediatric oncology. Plans are progressing in that arena.
PCRF also runs summer camps; has a Womanâ€™s Empowerment Project; has distributed eyeglasses and wheelchairs to children, and does emergency relief.
The accomplishments and projects of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund, of which the foregoing is but a brief part, can be found at their web site: <www.pcrf.net.> The web site also has provisions for making donations.