Thanks, Sharif
I’m honored to recently receive personal e-mail correspondences from a friend whose parents are right in the middle of the horrible mess in the Middle East. On occasion, I may print portions in attempt to put a more-human face on this tragedy that we support with our nation’s weapons. Note: The material is obviously dated, since new developments occur daily and this column deadline is four days before the paper hits streets.

“Third day of third military reoccupation occupation in Ramallah” (e-mail from his mom last Sunday):

“We went to bed last night exhausted by the tension of Israeli tanks and soldiers blowing up buildings and the siege on Arafat’s compound and the security compound in Beitunia. The city has been for 2 days without electricity, and in some places with no water. The army has been going house to house and building to building, Gestapo style, looking for those who oppose occupation. They came also in the night with blackened faces. 600 men have been arrested. Today, their tanks fired into more buildings. We are still trying to get accustomed to the black smoke on the horizon that follows the blasts. The fires burn a long time because they don’t allow the fire trucks to put them out. There is a lot of shooting, almost all of it by the Israelis, to terrorize us, and yes we are terrorized. Nine more bodies have been found today; 5 yesterday, shot in the head, executions of our defenders. Sometimes they use our men as human shields when they enter buildings. They are breaking into stores and taking the things they want and everywhere they enter they trash it. They have taken over our 3 television stations and now broadcast pornography on one of them. Does this sound like self-defense?”—Lois

(E-mail from his father last Saturday—electric power by generator):

“The thing about this is that this military campaign will not change anything. Most certainly will not stop the suicide bombers; no one can, as long as the occupation persists. I am afraid that post-Arafat the proposed Arab and Palestinian formula of “land for peace,” i.e., return the occupied lands and get peace (not, keep the lands and get peace!), will no longer be acceptable: the more racist, barbaric and oppressive the Israeli military occupation becomes, the less acceptable the current formula for negotiations will be for young Palestinian generations.

I worked a bit before noon on chapter four in my book, as we kept both ears open to the sound of fire, tanks, helicopters, etc. For the last two hours, we washed our bedroom windows … tantamount to having picnic under curfew! We also filled drinking water in bottles, as a precaution. After I finish, Lois and I are planning to watch a film.”–Khalil

Weekly props
1. Spring cleaning
2. Get well, Annis
3. (Angels of the Public Interest)
4. Albertson’s Kings crew
5. Melvins at the Brick in May