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PAGE 12A " HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 26, 2013 By. Diana Atallah The Media Line RAMALLAH--Palestin- ians are torn between being happy that many have received permits to visit Jerusalem and Israel during the holy Is- lamic month of Ramadan (July 8-Aug. 7), andbeingconcerned for the West Bank shops which will lose agreat dealofbusiness to stores in Israel. Ramadan is considered the holiest month in the Islahaic calendar. Religious Muslims all over the world fast from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the month. Muslims celebrate Eid A1Fitrwhere they visit relatives or take a few days off to travel. On a recent morning, dozens of people were gathered in the Ramallah Liaison office to collect their Israeli permits. Palestinians are not allowed to enter Israel without a special permit. During Ramadan. Israel significantly eases re- strictions to allow Muslims to visit Jerusalem to pray at the AI-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites for Muslims. Israel has already issued 10,000 permits for Palestinians and the number is expected to grow. While in Jerusalem. many Palestinians will make the 45-minute drive to the beach in Tel Aviv, or visit Israel's amusement parks and tourist attractions. "These numbers would have been multiplied by 10 if we didn't send out the permits to the local municipalities." Ghas- san Sail. the head of the Liaison office in Ramallah told The Media Line. Due to the large numbers of permits granted in Ramadan. the liaison offices started sending out the permits to the local municipalities in order to ease the pressure. "My husband and I got a permit for a month, but my son was denied one. We will try to apply again for him. I hope there is still time." Salma Assi, a 37-year-old employee in a Palestinian company told The Media Line. On Fridays in Ra- madan all women and men over 60 years old. are allowed into Jerusalem without a permit. Assi said that she will go to the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray and to the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Jaffa to enjoy the beach at night. Jamal Diab a 25-year-old Palestinian Authority em- ployee only received a permit for four days. "I followed upwiththem (the Israeli authorities) and asked to have a permit for 30 days", Diab told The Media Line. Diab can't wait to go to the beach with his wife if both of them. are granted a permit for the end of Ramadan. These trips to Israel may be spiritually significant and fun. but they are also costly. Between transportation, entry fees and food, a one- day trip can cost a family several hundred dollars. Diab says he wilt bring food from home and only buy drinks and juice in Israel. hop- ing to keep the tab under $100 for the day. He might go shopping as well. "I heard that Israeli shops granted special discounts for West Bankers last year and I want to use them." Diab said. Mohammed Etewi a 40-year-old driver, received a permit this year to visit Jeru- salem for the first time in 12 years. Along with his wife and daughter he came to pray at the A1-Aqsa mosque. "The atmosphere is really amazing; we stayed until it was time to break the fast and ate xqith the rest of people. We really enjoyed it". Etewi told The Media Line. Etewi works for the Palestin- ian Authority, and earns about $600 each month. He says he wanted to go to the beach, but didn't because he couldn't af- ford it. His trip to the mosque cost about $60 for transporta- tion and a few souvenirs. "The prices are expensive in Jerusalem, so I only bought ka'ek (a round bread topped with sesame seeds) and falafel, along with some decorations from Ramadan and a few toys for my other kids at home." Etewi told The Media Line. Beyond the cost, some Palestinian activists say that Palestinians should be spend- ing their money locally, not inside Israel. "Last year around this time, we all read about the money that was spent by Palestinians when they got permits and visited areas inside Israel." Hala Shoabi told The Media Line. "This year. we decided to do something about it." A group of Palestinians from Ra~allah and Jerusalem. along with Arab citizens of Israel from Haifa. Nazareth. Jaffa arid Acre have planned an awareness campaign to encourage Palestinians to buy from only Arab-owned shops. They are compiling a list of shops, restaurants and coffee shops in Israel owned by Arab citizens of Israel. A group member told The Media Line that they believe that Israel profits from the permits economically. "The economy in the West Bank is very restricted and Israel decides what it allows into our markets," Shoabi said. "With such a strong Is- raeli market and economy, it is already hard for our market to compete. So the leastwe can do is not help Israelis further especially in the holy month of Ramadan," Shoabi told The Media Line. However, Safi from the Liaison office believes that Israel's first priority is security. "Tourist and economic: goals might follow, but if there was a problem in one permit. Israel will not ease the process of giving permits. Last year. the situation was much calmer than it is today," Sail explained. Palestinian merchants say the permits are taking away their livelihood. Elias Rish- mawi. a clothes shop owner in Bethlehem says many Palestinians buy their holiday clothes in Israel. rather than in Bethlehem. "We wait for these high seasons when people shop for their festivities. However. Israel takes all of our profit by these permits," Rishmawi said. Nevertheless. Palestiflian officials say they will never interfere with people's wishes to go to Jerusalem. "Our policy in the Civil Administration is to ease~ the burden caused by ]Israeli] occupation. We will never put checkpoints to prevent people from going to Jerusalem just to help merchants make profit," Sail said. "We help merchants by trying to ease the restric- tions imposed" On them and not by rejecting people's right to obtain a permit.' The activists have launched a campaign on Facebook asking Palestinians not to buy Israeli products. A widely shared photo on Facebook reads. "I have a permit but will not buy Israeli products." Another reads "boycott your occupation." However. others insist that they want to use the permit to shop. Omar Hassan. a 27-year- old university employee says that shopping in Israel is more cost-effective, as the goods are better quality. "You pay a bit more money for clothing but you can still use it for a long period of time. Don't tell me to support the national product, tell our merchants to have mercy on us." Hassan said. The activists encouraged the listed merchants to offer discounts to Palestinians. "We are aware people search for the cheapest prices that sometimes are offered by the bigger chains in Israeli markets, but hope- fully people will try to avoid buying from Israeli stores," Shoabi added. The By Rafael Medoff Seventy years ago this month, on July 28, an eye- witness to the Nazi atrocities against Europe's Jews brought the horrifying news directly to the-most powerful man on earth. It was the moment that President FranklinD. Roosevelt came face to face With the Holocaust. By the time he was 26, Pol- ish underground member Jan Karski had been imprisoned by the Soviets, tortured by the Gestapo, and nearly drowned while escaping from a hospital in German-occupied Slova- kia. After all he 'suffered. it would have been understand- able if Karski had ended his service atthat point. Instead, he chose to risk his life again, in order to alert the Free World about Hitler's mass m~r~ter of European Jewi, y. Courtesy of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Jan Karski Karski, who was Catholic, was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, as the Nazis were deporting hundreds of thousands of Warsaw's Jews to the gas chambers of Treblinka. Walking through the ghetto, he saw corpses piled in the ~~ Development Corporation for Israel israel Bonds " " ] 2600 Sputh Belcher Road, Suite 10]A JSRAEL~SONOS Largo, Florida 33773 Reva Pearlstein Monica DiGiovanni A~sistc~nt Director 'Registered Representotive 727.539..6445 800-622-8017 tampa@israe| www.~srae| HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man & General Maintenance Air Conditioning Carpentry Electrical Plumbing Formerly handled maintenance at JCC REferences available STEVE'S SERVICES Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 gutter, emaciated children clothed in rags, and dazed men and women slumped against decrepit buildings. When gunfire suddenly erupted, Karski's comrades hurried him into a nearby apartment. He watched as two uniformed teenagerswith pistols came down the street. "They are here for the 'Jew hunt.'!' Karskiwas told. Hitler Youth members would amuse themselves byyenturing into the Jewish part of the city and shooting people at random. Days later. Karski and a compatriot, disguised as Ukrainian militiamen, took a six-hour train ride to a site in southeastern Poland called Iz- bica. It was a"sorting station." When Jews were shipped to a death camp, Karski learned, the Germans would first take them to Izbica, rob t.hem of their last belongings, and then send them off to the gas chambers. Determined to tell the world what he had seen, Karski made his .way across occulaied Belgium, Germany, and France, his life in danger every step of the way. Thanks to an injection from a sympa- thetic dentist that swelled his jaw, Karski was able to avoid conversations that might have revealed his Polish identity. From France, he hiked across the Pyrenees mountains into Spain, and then traveled to London. British officials were chilly. Foreign Minister Anthony Eden showed little interest in Karski's account of the slaughter of the Jews, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent word that he was too busy to meet the Polish courier at all. Karski headed for Washington. On July 28, 1943, he met with President Roosevelt, in the Oval Office, for more than an hour. Karski began by describing the activities of the Polish underground. The president listened with fascination, asked questions, and offered unsolicited advice, some of it a bit eccentric such as his idea of putting skis on small airplanes to fly undergr6und. messengers between England and Poland during the winter. Then Karski turned to the plight of the Jews. This was not the first time FDR heard about the mass murder of Europe's Jews. For nearly a year, detailed reports about the killings had been reaching the White House. In fact, when American Jewish leaders had their very first meeting with the president on this subject, in December 1942. FDR told them he was already "well acquainted" with the massacres they described. But the meeting with Karski was the first time President Roosevelt encoun- tered an actual eyewitnessto the killings. Despite Karski's harrowing first-person account of the atrocities, the president was not moved. FDRwas, as Karski politely described it, "rather noncommittal." Roosevelt viewed the suf- fering of the Jews as just another unfortunate aspect of what civilians suffer in every war. He did dot believe it was justified for the U.S. to use any resources to rescue Jews from the Nazis. Nor did he want to have to deal with large numbers of rescued Jew- ish refugees, clamoring to be admitted to the United States. Ironically, though, just six weeks earlier, the Roosevelt administration had estab- lished a U.S. government commission "for the protec-" tion and salvage of artistic and historic monuments in Europe." As he rose to leave the Oval Office, Karski asked the president if there was any message he wanted to send to those suffering under the Nazi jackboot. The president leaned back, his trademark AS COURIEQ~HE~ WAS TP~ CONTACT" Courtesy of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. This cartoon by William Sharp wasused to advertise Jan Karski's 1944 book, "Story of a Secret State," which helped alert the American public about Nazi atrocities against the Jews. cigarette holder balanced in one hand, and said, "Tell them we shall win this war!" Despite President Roos- evelt's lack of interest in the fate of the Jews, Karski did not lose heart. In the months to follow, he authored a har- rowing book-length account of the situation in Hitler's Europe, called "Story of a Secret State," and delivered hundreds of lectures around the United States about his experiences. Little by little, the story of Karski's efforts to alert the world about the Holocaust has begun to gain public at- tention, especially in schools. It was included in a recent se- ries of animated shorts about America's "response to the Holocaust (www.TheySpoke- Out.corn), created by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and Disney Educational Productions.And at a Wh|te House ceremony earlier this year, Karski was posthumously awarded a PresidentiaI Medal of Free- dom. It was a fitting tribute tO a man whose life symbol- ized the need to speak out when--as President Obama recently put it--"so many others stood silent." Dr. Rafael Medoff is direc- tor of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Stud- ies, in Washington, D.C. His latest book i$ "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith. "