The first Palestinian Social Congress was held in Jerusalem on Sunday (22 July). Organised by?
The first Palestinian Social Congress was held in Jerusalem on Sunday (22 July). Organised by various charity organisations in the Israeli-administered territories and East Jerusalem, it was held officially to discuss pressing social, welfare and educational problems of Arab residents of these areas. its organiser, Dr Amin Al Khatib, afterwards told newsmen the event was not meant to be political. However, the Jerusalem Post claimed that the ingredients of the congress -- slogans supporting the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) plus songs, speeches and dramatic sketches -- had turned the event into 'a profoundly political event'.
SYNOPSIS: The congress was held in the YMCA building in East jerusalem. It attracted an audience of several hundred, described as largely middle-class, and the entire political leadership of the administered territories, including the mayors of West Bank towns -- Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem.
Small children acted out a tableau in which they were arrested by Israeli soldiers for shouting Palestinian slogans. The dialogue had the soldiers saying the children wanted a Palestinian state, but would be offered autonomy. When one girl showed a Palestinian flag, the audience applauded. The congress had been allowed to go ahead because of its professed non-political nature.
Observers said the West Bank mayors had been warned in advance not to make any political statements. Military government officials would not comment on the gathering because its venue in Jerusalem put it outside their jurisdiction. Hebron's ;mayor, Fahd Kawsma, spoke to newsmen.
Speakers had linked social problems to the Israeli occupation.