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Last night (April 1st 2008) approximately 300 women, including teachers, mothers and students, protested the shut down of their school and orphanages by the Israeli government. This is one of several schools and orphanages serving 7,000 orphans and students in the Hebron area. Internationals, including Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and others committed to non-violence, slept in the school expecting armed Israeli soldiers to come and seal up the doors.
The Israeli High Court have just extended the order by one week. This evening internationals have arrived to stay in the school for the night because no one has seen a copy of the written order. There’s also a presence at one of the boys schools by the men and boys of the community. Sixteen year-old American-born Rabiha Abu Sneineh, an articulate defender of her school and friends who will become
homeless, joined her classmates in last night’s protest. Her descriptive letter to Oprah is below.
Dianne Roe, who works with the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Hebron, cried when she was interviewing sixteen-year-old Rabina. Below is a news release distributed by CPT and a letter that Rabina,
who was raised in Houston, Texas, who wrote to Oprah last week.
Sixteen year-old American-born Rabiha Abu Sneineh will join her classmates tonight in facing armed Israeli soldiers if the Israeli army carries out the order effective 1 April closing orphanages and schools funded by Islamic Charities that serves 7,000 children.
Two years ago Rabiha was a teenager in Houston, Texas where she was treasurer of the student council and loved going to the mall with her friends. Her new friends are her classmates at the Girls’ orphanage
school in Hebron. Last year they helped her learn Arabic and integrate into her new surroundings. Now she wants to help them.
My name is Rabiha Abusnineh and I am 16 and a half years old. For the first fifteen years of my life, I have lived in Houston, Texas in the United States of America. I was really happy there because I had everything I wanted. For instance, I had a 3.9 GPA and I had awesome friends and went to a really good school (North Shore High School). But all that changed when I moved to Hebron, Palestine in August of 2006. I didn’t know the Arabic language at all but over time and practice and a lot of repetition I have learned it and become the highest ranking in my class due to endless cooperation from my school.
I go to Al-Shar’iya Secondary School for Girls but it is not just any normal school. It is a school of 650 girls, 500 of them being orphans that depend on the school for a place to study, to eat, to sleep, to
get treated if they’re sick, to get school supplies, and probably every other necessity they need to live. And now for some reason the Israeli Occupation wants to close it down along with its other branches that include a school for orphaned boys and an elementary school for orphaned children. What they do not realize is that if they were to close the Islamic Charitable Society which funds these orphanage schools, they would be kicking some of these orphans into the street with no one to care or to spend on them.
They say that these orphans practice terrorism and due to their false accusations they have confiscated all of the properties and the income that are required to care for the orphans and the buses that transport them from their homes to the school and they’ve closed down the bakery that extends bread to the orphans to sustain their hunger and they’ve stolen all the food in the food pantry that contains canned goods and meats for the orphans and they’ve confiscated the warehouse that contains school supplies and clothes for the orphans. I declare that these are not things used for terrorism so why have they taken them? And now they have given the different orphan schools warning to be closed by April the first.
My school and the Palestinian people have done plenty of things to stop this decision that came out about a month ago. We have marched and protested all with out any result. I ask you Oprah as a last resort to please please please help! I am asking you not for money but to help spread awareness on this situation and to help people see that the students of this school are orphans that have lost their fathers or mothers or both and in that lost their main source of income and their main source of love and care. This is not a political situation but rather it is a humanitarian one. Ever since I was a kindergarten in America I have learned that “All men were created equally” and that the American people have “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. If we were all created equally then us striving for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness shouldn’t differ between Americans, Palestinians, Africans or any one else.
I have been taught to stand up for what I believe in and what I believe has nothing to do with politics because I’ve always been neutral but Oprah by studying at this school and seeing everything that is provided I can not imagine what life is going to be like if it closes down so I will stand by them to the very end until they get back their rights. I ask you Oprah to please respond to this message as soon as possible because there is roughly a week left until the Israeli Occupation decide to carry out their inhumane and heartless plan. I watch your show about every week day here from Saturday-Wednesday and so does practically every other girl in my school. They see you as a source of kindness and compassion due to your help with building the African Schools and your help with a lot of different things. Please help them see that personally by helping them. Again all I ask for is coverage and awareness and hopefully a visit from you. Your reward will be in heaven. God Bless You for you are surely one of my role models and what I strive to be like when I’m older.
Thank you again for being my role model and for any help that you can offer.
P.S. Please hurry!! God Bless You and all of your staff and crew!