Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Kinder USA Hosts First Fund-Raiser

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Kinder USA Hosts First Fund-Raiser

Article excerpt

History was made July 21 when the four-month-old KinderUSA hosted its first fund-raiser for needy Palestinian children. More than 350 guests gathered for the dinner program in Sequoia Conference Center, Buena Park, where emergency plans were discussed for Palestinian children left homeless and traumatized since Israeli tanks rolled into their towns and refugee camps in April, and again in June.

The evening's emcee was Dr. Laila Marayati who, along with Dr. Riad Abdelkarim and three other physicians, founded KinderUSA in March, after the U.S. government closed in November the bank accounts and offices of the Holy Land Foundation, the foremost US. charitable organization for Palestinians. The HLF's denials that its aid went to anything but needy Palestinian civilians has gone unheeded by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who froze the HLF's assets after a visit to the U.S. by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Noting that the U.S. gives six times more financial assistance to industrialized Israel than it does to all of impoverished black Africa, Dr. Marayati said it is up to charitable organizations like KinderUSA to tend to the emergency needs of Palestinian children.

Staff members have been on the West Bank to assess immediate needs, she said, which include providing school uniforms, backpacks and classroom supplies before schools reopen in early September. Already 2,000 food packets have been distributed to the hardest hit areas where malnutrition is running rampant among children.

"It has been unheard of for Palestinian youngsters to go hungry," stated KinderUSA treasurer Dalell Mohmed, "but Israeli roadblocks are stopping truck transport from delivering commonplace food supplies such as milk, flour and vegetables."

The urgency for food delivery to besieged towns and villages was impressed upon the large audience when a telephone call was placed to Jerusalem. From there Khalil Marouf of Terre des Hommes described his success in delivering the 2,000 KinderUSA food packets to deprived children living behind Israeli blockades.

In his address to KinderUSA's inaugural fund raiser, Presbyterian Rev. Darrel Meyer described the deprivation he witnessed Palestinian children living under when he visited the West Bank in April.

"Most major Christian denominations-not to be confused with the Jerry Fallwell-, Pat Robertson-led Zionist Christian right-are calling for an end to Israel's military occupation of Palestine," the cleric said. …

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