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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

COLUMN: And People Say We’re Corrupt

All right, let’s face facts. We as Americans are no strangers to corrupt government. Can anybody say Enron? How about Halliburton? Yup, we got it all: 527s, soft money, all that good stuff.

With all those lovely factors, I thought I had a rough idea of what corruption really was. Then I read about Suha Arafat….and wow, just wow. For those who might not have heard of or read about Suha, the wife of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, this woman is the embodiment of evil.

Before I get into this woman, let’s look at the present state of Palestine. People are hungry, they’re angry, and they’re dying. This isn’t the land of SUV’s and Happy Meals. This is a land of suicide bombings and guerilla warfare. There isn’t a whole lot of relief in Palestine, and there isn’t a whole lot of luxury.

Unless of course your name is Suha. This is a woman who is married to the figure head of the Palestinian resistance. So naturally she lives in Ramalah, right? Um, no. Maybe the Gaza Strip? Wrong again. Where could the wife of the Palestinian figure head reside? Paris, France.

Yes, that’s right, Paris. A beautiful, luxurious city, and not exactly cheap. Now maybe I’m confused, but shouldn’t the leader of a nation’s wife live in that nation? Okay, I’m not trying to act like I know everything about Palestine, ’cause I don’t, I just know greed when I see it and this woman is it.

Why do I think she’s greedy? So glad you asked. I was reading that she made an arrangement with the Palestinian government that they should pay her in order for them to obtain information from Yasser about bank accounts that allegedly hold billions of dollars of the Palestinian government’s money. What was that agreement? $22 million a year. Yes, that figure again: $22 million a year.

Let’s put it in perspective, shall we? That’s 440 Cadillac Escalades a year or 4400 plasma screen TVs. What else could you do with $22 million? How about buy food for a year for hundreds of thousands of families. How about handing each Palestinian in Gaza and the West Bank 60 bucks?

I know that $60 isn’t a lot, but when you’re looking at it from a standpoint of people who don’t have a whole hell of a lot to eat or be happy about, sixty dollars can mean something.

Now that I’ve put it into perspective, let’s think about the actual fortitude it takes to basically extort money from an already restless nation. I mean does anybody really need $22 million a year to live in comfort? Wouldn’t $1 million of been enough? I know for $1 million I could still live pretty lovely, for $22 million I could live like a king.

Does she need that money? No. Are there people in Palestine that need that money? Yes. Will she probably get away with it? Yes. It’s an awful situation. $22 million a year from the Palestinian government for “living expenses.” And we thought Enron was bad.

Jay Upton is a Mass Media columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].