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July 01, 2002

Palestinian jobless storm Arafat headquarters

Palestinian jobless storm Arafat headquarters

Thousands of banner-waving Palestinians marched on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Gaza offices Monday, protesting the lack of jobs or financial support for the unemployed.

Thousands of unemployed Palestinians? Heads are going to roll in marketing! How could they have not heard of the new, exciting and renumerative opportunities Hamas has open in the personal explosion division? A. You've got a job for life. B. You have a blissful, heavenly retirement. C. No Sales calls. D. All you have to know is your belt size. E. We really mean it, NO SALES CALLS!

About 4,000 demonstrators, many accompanied by their children, took to the streets, some with rounds of pita bread fixed to the top of their banners to symbolize their struggle for daily bread.

"Hunger is destroying us!" claimed Ahmed bin Ahmed "Why, after buying headscarves, petite camoflauge uniforms and fake plastic explosives, we barely had enough money for the banner bread!"

Arafat's security guards, unwilling to use force against the unarmed protesters, stood by as the crowd broke through the wrought-iron gates of Arafat's seafront compound chanting "We want jobs! We want food!"

Despite their lack of employment, none of the crowd's accepted the security guard's offers to switch places.

Arafat was not in Gaza. A cordon of Israeli tanks have kept him penned inside his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah for the past week.

A dazed and somewhat bewildered Arafat exited his compound later that day, handing out chocolate and cigarettes to the bemused Israeli tank crews, thanking them all for their efforts in guarding him from "that vicious arab street rabble"

Majed Abu Qaria, a 41-year-old father of seven children, said he had been unemployed for the past 17 months and received no welfare benefits from the Palestinian Authority. He said that while he had no quarrel with Arafat, he believed that other Palestinian officials were enriching themselves at the expense of the poor.

"Ptah!" spat Qaria "Worldcom was not the hot stock Abu bin abu mohammned al-arib bin ahmed de von ausfern schplenden schlitter crasscrenbon fried digger dingle dangle dongle dungle burstein von knacker thrasher apple banger horowitz ticolensic grander knotty spelltinkle grandlich grumblemeyer spelterwasser kurstlich himbleeisen bahnwagen gutenabend bitte ein nurnburger bratwustle gernspurten mitz weimache luber hundsfut gumberaber shonedanker kalbsfleisch mittler aucher von hautkopft of Ulm said it was."

"We love him and support him fully," Abu Qaria said. "But there are some people around him who are stealing our rights and ignoring our demands."

"If this keeps up, soon I will lose all self-respect, motivation and sense of worth. I might as well be French."

Before the September 2000 outbreak of Palestinian-Israeli violence, an average of 125,000 Palestinians crossed daily into Israel to perform manual labor jobs that were the mainstay of the Palestinian economy, bringing in $3.4 million each day, according to U.N. figures.

They hammered in the morning. They hammered in the evening, all over that land. They hammered out danger. They hammered out warning. But they can't go back until they hammer out a peace agreement.

The closure of Israel's borders to Palestinians in October 2000 cut off that flow almost completely, the United Nations says.

However, it has almost completely failed in stopping the cross-border flow of illegal immigrants from Latin America. Asked how he managed to cross the heretofore unknown Israeli-Mexican border, a Mr. S. Gonzales replied "We are very treeky, senor."

In addition, Palestinian Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib has blamed Israeli curfews on Palestinian towns and villages and blockades on roads for a severe blow to employment inside the Palestinian territories. "Right now the percentage of unemployed and unable to work in Palestinian society is 78 percent of the labor force," he wrote in a recent appeal to the international community. Before Israel's recent incursions, the jobless figure stood at 44 percent, he said.

"My fertilizer and nail company was pulling three shifts, " Khatib went on. "I was really hoping to branch out into rat poison and broken glass, but you just can't find the workers." When it was pointed out that he was after all, in the middle of a labor riot, or really lack of labor riot, Khatib replied "These lasy bastards? Oh, I wouldn't hire them as the lowest fetilizer taster. I'm looking for more of those Mexicans."

Standing among Gaza protesters, 29-year-old Sami al-Shami said he has been without work for 18 months and is struggling to feed his wife and three children. He said he has received $240 in Palestinian social security payments over that time. "What can this do to help a family?" he asked.

"Were it not for the residuals from Wolly Bully, I might have starved long long ago."

The Palestinian Workers' Union is helping about 1,500 unemployed members, but the aid it can offer does not go far -- about $100 each in one-off payments, spokesman Rezeq Hassan said.

Motto of The Palestinian Workers' Union: Every Man for Himself!

Posted by Bigwig at July 1, 2002 10:01 PM | TrackBack
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