Letters to the Editor

Palestine not neglected, has only self to blame

It is often said that the United States supports Israel more than Palestine, but let it be known that the Palestinian Authority has not been neglected as some may think. Last year the Bush administration gave $20 million directly to the Palestinian Authority under former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. This year the Bush administration, along with the United Nations and other private groups, directed $127 million in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians. That’s $147 million in just two years.

Since the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the Bush administration, along with the Israeli government, has been fully supportive of aiding the Palestinian election process. At a meeting of international donors for Palestinians next month, the Bush administration hopes to announce another $20 million in direct aid toward the election and to pay salaries of Palestinian public servants. The total — $167 million — is quite a lot of money, and I question whether the Palestinian Authority will use it righteously.

In 2002 information was uncovered about Palestinian summer camps funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an organization that seeks out to improve the welfare of children. UNICEF’s intentions were to explore and develop children’s abilities; encourage initiatives and self-reliance; create young leadership and promote positive values in children.

Instead, the Palestinian Authority used the money to develop terrorist training camps. At the summer camps, children were encouraged to learn how to play a role in terrorist attacks, taught how to shoot guns and were given instruction on how to blow up Israeli buses and settlements. Suicide bombers were also glorified, with a number of camp groups being named for them. Now, why would anyone want to donate money to a nation that glorifies terrorism?

If the Palestinians could be trusted to use the money they are given in an appropriate manner, than maybe organizations and countries such as the United States would choose to invest more in the area. The money the United States and others have donated to the Palestinians has gone to waste in many cases. Arafat was said to be worth more than $6 billion. Where do you think that money came from?

While the Palestinian people are hungry and homeless, don’t blame the United States and Israel; blame Arafat, whose name they glorify and whose widow lives in a mansion in France worth God only knows how much.

Blame the Palestinian government, which has not been able to attain the money following Arafat’s death. Pointing the finger at someone else is just an easy way out.

Merav Schlesinger is a senior majoring in international studies.

Government has to ensure volunteers’ safety

During election time, a company called America Coming Together was advertising positions for volunteers to make $75 a day canvassing neighborhoods in Hillsborough and surrounding counties, making sure that everyone voted this year. Having friends who worked for the company and liked it, I signed up for the full five days. On the first day all of the volunteers were “trained” and drove themselves around the area. The second day we had a driver who seemed nice, so he drove us around for the next four days.

Once the election ended and after a member of the group made some bad business decisions with the driver, it was brought to my attention by a phone call from the Temple Terrace Police Department that the person who drove us around for four days was a criminal with 37 felonies under his belt.

He mentioned only paper crimes, such as bank fraud, but he didn’t say that all 37 were the same. However, a background check was supposed to be issued for everyone, according to a source at ACT. It is also evident that an attempt was not even made, as the driver used his real name and license.

It is appalling that a government-based company with funding for this sort of thing would put people in a vehicle with someone who has such a terrible criminal record and completely disregard our safety.

It is horrible to think who else was in a car with a complete stranger, assuming that his or her right to work in a safe environment was acknowledged.

College students need to realize that something advertised as “student work” may not be safe. They need to make sure that background checks are done if they are driving around with anyone or if they ever “volunteer” with something and get paid for it. We assumed that we were, and we ended up in a criminal’s hands. Who knows who else did and what could have happened.

Laureen Foley is a sophomore majoring in advertising.