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September 28, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-28

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0

OPINION
Page 4 Thursday, September 28, 1989 TheM*hlgan Daily.

Av
Terry Boulatta is a twenty two year old
Palestinian political prisoner from Bir Zeit
University. She majored in Sociology be-
fore the closure of her university. Boulatta
has an undiagnosed liver ailment, but her
attempts to receive proper medical diagno-
sis and treatment have been continually
hampered by her arrest and detention by
the Israeli authorities. She is in the United
States for medical treatment. While in
Ann Arbor, Daily reporter Dima Zalatimo
had a chance to interview Boulatta.
Daily: Terry, you have been in and out of
prison several times starting on November
4,1987. Why were you imprisoned and
charges were brought against you?,
Boulatta: The charges brought against me
were student activity in the student coun-
cil. I was secretary of the arts committee
which used to bring cultural and folkloric
groups to campus. That got me two
months of detention in 1987.
Then the following year on November
14, on the eve of Palestinian Independence
I was arrested for three days, during which
I was interrogated. As punishment, I was
placed in a vertical "coffin." Since I had
just been released from the hospital that
morning after having a liver biopsy, I
started bleeding. Two hours later, I fell
unconscious. I was released due to my de-
teriorating condition.
I was hospitalized until mid-December. I
was arrested again on February 12. This
time I had a secret file, so neither I nor my
lawyer were informed of the charges
against me. I was held for twelve days un-
til they released me for health reasons.
They scheduled my trial on March 8,
International Women's Day. My fourth
imprisonment was on March 8 when I ap-
peared for trial with health reports explain-
ing my condition. Despite that, the judge
issued an order for my arrest. Only then
was I informed of the charges against me.
I was in prison for three months and six
days until June 15, 1989, after the inter-

tew from

an

Israelip
central prison like Tel Monde prison.
The first stage for any prisoner is inter-
rogation in the detention center. You are
kept in isolation in a small cell, with your
arms handcuffed behind your back and a
dirty sack over your face. You would sleep
like this all night.
After interrogation, you are taken to an-
other cell that you share with other pris-
oners and it is there that you await your
trial.When I was in Mascobiya, we started
singing once and the soldiers immediately
came and started beating us and they con-
fiscated our sponge mattresses that we
slept on. We were singing because there
was a bride with us. She had just gotten
married and her husband was waiting out-
side for her.
The sentenced women are kept in the cen-
tral prisons. We were only allowed to
walk around outside twice a day and were
kept under very strong surveilance. We
would be punished for singing or wearing
the colors of the Palestinian flag. When I
left prison, our families were not allowed
to visit us. They also threw out all the
books the Red Cross workers brought us.
The only medication I was given in prison
was valium for my pain.
Daily: Many people have said the experi-
ence of being imprisoned in Israeli jails is
a form education in terms of developing
your national identity. Do you agree?
Boulatta: Yes. The first time I was im-
prisoned, I was twenty one years old. I had
never experienced such brutality. I saw
eleven and twelve year old children being
brought in and beaten terribly. Such a
child must ask why he was beaten. Other
)n in prisoners will explain to him that it's be-
cause he is Palestinian. That is where the
education process begins. They think they
tiate be- can make us forget our identity by beating
There is us and imprisoning us. They are closing
ascobiya schools and opening prisons. The prisons
re is the have become our schools. Prisoners edu-

rison
cate each other.
Daily: Here at U of M, we feel that stu-
dent activism is an important part of stu-r
dent life. Can you describe activism on
your campus and what consequences it
has?
Boulatta: As I mentioned, I was impris-
oned for being on the arts committee at
school. At Bir Zeit, we aren't allowed to
distribute our own student newspaper. We
have an old campus and a new one. There
was (when the university was open) a
check-point between the two. We were
often late for classes. We would be arrested
for having any kind of student leaflets,
even those protesting apolitical things like
tuition.
Daily: With the closure of Palestinian
schools and universities, and the rise of al-
ternative education, has education taken on
a new meaning in the Occupied
Territories?
Boulatta: Education is a means of exis-
tence as a civilized, literate nation for
Palestinians. It means being aware of our
national identity and our common strug-
gle. The Israelis would like to see us as an
illiterate nation which they can use for
cheap labor.
Daily: One of the tasks of the delegation
of U of M students that weik, to the
Occupied Territories this summer was to
discuss the establishment of a sister uni-
versity relationship between our
University and Bir Zeit University. How
do you feel such a relationship is benefi-
cial for students at both universities?
Boulatta: It would make us feel thatA
other students are in solidarity with us. It
would also allow our students to comet
here and study. On the other hand it would
allow U of M students to come and expe-
rience the life of a Palestinian student:
Also, it is important for students here to.
use their education to work for a more
peaceful global community where all are
insured basic human rights.

Families of missing children confront an Israeli soldier at Ansar II priso
Gaza.

vention of many human rights organiza-
tions and dignitaries such as Madame
Miterand and Jimmy Carter.
Daily: Could you the describe the condi-
tions of your imprisonment. What sort of

medical treatment did you receive?
Boulatta: First, we must differen
tween the two kinds of prisons.'
the detention center such as the M;
(the Russian compound) and the

I ii

Eiebde i v o Michig ad
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Helms v. artistic freedom

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Vol. C, No. 16

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Doily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Healthcare is a right

SINCE THE late 1960s there has been
a mounting health care crisis in the
United States. Today, hospitals and
physicians' offices around the country
are closing their doors to people in
need of primary health care who can't
afford rising medical costs. In 1986, 1
million Americans could not find a
healthcare facility that would treat
them; 14 million more did not even seek
help because of expected denial. The
main factor which motivates the denial
of medical treatment to those who need
it is money.
There are 37 million people in the
middle and lower income working
class who lack the health insurance
necessary to acquire fundamental medi-
cal care. Since 1980 this group has
grown by over 1 million people every,
year. This trend has led analysts to
predict that by the end of the next
decade 50 million Americans -nearly
one out of every five citizens - will
lack any form of health insurance. This
issue can no longer be ignored.
The Basic Health Benefits for All
Americans Act is the latest in a series of
congressional proposals which will at-
tempt to address the growing problem
of inaccessible and unaffordable health
.care. The bill will secure a basic health
insurance benefits package for all U.S.
citizens by the year 2000. The package
would cover medically necessary hos-
pital, physician, pre-natal, and well-
baby care; and will include a limited
mental health benefit.
The bill would not create a massive
bureaucracy to accomplish its ends, but
would use existing forms of public and

private health insurance to efficiently
procure coverage for the vast number
of uninsured. The two faceted program
will first mandate employer provided
insurance plans for all workers and will
second phase in a $6.5 billion expan-
sion in medicaid.
While small businessesbhave raised
concerns over the new burden they
would incur, larger businesses have
come out in strong support of the bill,
siting a predicted deflation in insurance
premiums as other employers begin to
share the responsibility of employee
health insurance. Further amendments
have been made to ease the burden on
small businesses, including the pur-
chase of insurance at lower group
rates. The bill has won wide support in
the health community with endorse-
ments from the American Medical
Association and the Catholic Health
Association.
The Basic Health Benefits Act is not
the last health bill we will ever need.
Inefficiencies and inequalities will con-
tinue to exist in the health system in the
U.S. Health care cost remains high,
accessibility to health care is still diffi-
cult for many poor people and people
of color, and people with AIDS con-
tinue to be marginalized.
The bill is one way to begin to attack
the national health problem which is
reaching grotesque proportions. With
the exception of South Africa, the
United States is the only developed
democracy in the world not to guaran-
tee health care for its citizens. In the
face of 50 million U.S. citizens unable
to attain health care, this is a first step.

By Jonathan W. Fink
Last July 26, on a voice vote before a
virtually empty Senate floor, Jesse Helms
(R-NC) sponsored and passed an amend-
ment to ban the National Endowment for
the Arts (NEA) from supporting what he
deemed to be "obscene and indecent art."
He proposed to stop funding two galleries
which used NEA money to put on a show
of work by two provocative photogra-
phers. Helms' amendment violates the
original purpose of the Endowment. If it
is passed, it could infringe upon our con-
stitutional right to freedom of expression,
and deepen the crisis in this seriously un-
derfunded sector of American culture.
In 1965, Lyndon Johnson established
the NEA to promote cultural excellence.
At the time of the announcement, Johnson
warned against legislators determining
what art is and what it is not. To prevent
this from happening, Congress set up a
grant-making process known as peer re-
view, whereby members of the art com-
munity pass on grant applications in their
respective areas. The Helms Amendment,
which prohibits federal art funds from be-
ing used to "promote indecent materials
including... depictions of sadomasochism,

homceroticism,... or individuals engaged
in sex acts," violates the goals of the
NEA. Most artists will hold that no par-
ticular group of individuals who have lim-
ited knowledge of the arts is in a position
to determine what cultural excellence is for
the rest.
The Helms Amendment is an unquali-
fied backlash that will limit the right to
freedom of expression. The restriction
arose from legislators' unease about fund-
ing works by Andres Cerrano and the late
Robert Mapplethorpe which showed a cru-
cifix submerged in urine and alleged ho-
moerotic scenes. Although controversial,

not "being sensible", it is censorship.
Additionally, the Senate has placed lim-
its on how much money the NEA can ap-
propriate to the visual arts. This action
will neither eliminate the views of Mr.
Cerrano and Mr. Mapplethorpe nor will it
help to improve the condition of our al-
ready underfunded culture. France, which is
arguably the arts capital of the world,
spends almost five times as much as the
United States in this. area while it has only
one quarter the population.
The NEA bill is now in joint conference
between the House and Senate. It seems

a
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R ...
b
M
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'The Helms Amendment is an unqualified backlash that will
limit the right to freedom of expression.'

these photographers do represent legiti-
mate self-expression of artists' views of
parts of the world. Furthermore, since
homoerotocism is not, in itself, illegal,
Helms should not be allowed to legislate
against its depiction in art. Finally, to
squelch these dissenting views with an
amendment as broad and vague as the one
Helms has proposed will put serious lim-
its on the ideas that can be expressed. It is

clear that what is most necessary is not re-
stricted expression and decreased appropna-
tions to the arts to improve American cul-
ture; but a removal of the Helms Amend-
ment and an increase in federal funding to
the arts and humanities.
Jonathan W. Fink is an LSA junior who
interned on the U.S. Senate subcommitte
on arts and humanities issues.

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Not a dime
for death
squads
To the Ann Arbor
Community:
We apologize for any incon-
venience we may have caused
you with our "Not a Dime for
Death Squad Government"
posters and stickers. If the resi-
dents of the United States
would allow themselves to be
inconvenienced once in awhile
by this country's murderous
war against the people of El
Salvador, actions like ours
would not be necessary.
We hope our materials will
make you take time to reflect
today on why the U.S. gov-

"Shame on
you"
To the Daily:
In "Starting Young," (Daily,
9/26/89), Philip Cohen,
Associate Opinion Page editor,
expresses feelings of disillu-
sionment regarding his Jewish
identity. He states that
"nationalism... was tied to an
international political situa-
tion," but bases the use of
"nationalism" on his Jewish
education. Mr. Cohen also
states that "for all intents and
purposes, Judaism has lost
me." This indicates that the au-
thor, who is writing from the
perspective of a Jew, is ques-

not only this position, but also
the credibility of edit board as
it makes the biases of your as-
sociate editor clear and in print.
From the viewpoint of a
Reform Jew, who hardly con-
siders himself right-wing, Mr.
Cohen's editorial smacks of

self-hate. I speak only for my-
self, but may speak for others
when I say shame on you,
Philip. We are not fooled.
-Scott Sulkes.
September 27.

4

LIFE DEGMtS AT
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Opinion Page staff drive
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