To many Americans the Israeli/Palestinian issue is a complex and unsolvable one, plagued with propaganda from both sides and shrouded in the interests of global politics. But the everyday reality of many Palestinians is one that rarely has a contributory voice towards American opinion of the issue.
Yesterday, my first day in Palestine, I met Lutfiya el-Sharif, her husband and her 12 year old daughter in Ramallah. Lutfiya's face is dark with sorrow, even as she brings us tea and snacks, even as her daughter showers her with affection, even as the conversation leans away from topic of the intifada. But when the topic of discussion is her son Majed Mahmoud Zyadeh, her face is visibly controlled, as it making the subject a matter of fact is the only way for her to speak of him. Majed has been imprisoned for 8 months at Ashqeloon Prison. He was originally detained for shooting into the air with an ancient rifle after a tank following the murder of his best friend by Israeli soldiers.
The only charge is the nondescript " Administrative Detention " which means there are no charges, no opportunity for a lawyer to defend him and no term. All of this is fairly common and certainly not noteworthy here, but what is of grave concern is Majed's medical condition. Though he has suffered with chronic mastoiditis bilateral (very bad ear infections) since he was 4, regular treatment has kept the condition in check. While in prison he has been allowed no medical treatment other then aspirin, the condition has worsened and now is quite grave. Majed is completely deaf in one ear and is faced with possible labrinthytis causing total deafness, facial nerve paralysis, menengitis, and brain abscess as a result of this lack of treatment. (see http://www.mandela-palestine.org/ for more details)
Majed's case is well documented medically and his needs are clear. Through the efforts of his mother several members of the French parliament have agreed to assist in his receiving the care he needs. Lutfeya has no expectation of her son's release; only of his receiving the care he needs and has the right to by international law. Regardless, the Israeli government will not allow him out of prison for treatment, they have not even replied to her. Having exhausted the resources available to her with no success Lutfiya knows that the fate of her son rests in the hands of distant Americans; she has asked that we encourage Americans who are concerned about human rights issues in Palestine to write to the Israelis to convince them to allow treatment for her son. There is more information about this case at http://www.mandela-palestine.org/ where Majed is the prisoner of the month.
Please consider sending a short letter to any or all of the following addresses:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Office of Prime Minister
3 Kaplen Street, PO Box 187
Jerusalem 91919, Israel
Fax:- + (972) 2 651 26 31
Salutation: - Dear Prime Minister
Ministry of Defense
Fax:- + (972) 3 691 69 40
Salutation: - Dear Minister
Chief of General Staff C/o Ministry of Defense
Seven " A " Street
Fax: - + (972) 3 691 69 40