Samara Kalk Derby, The Capital Times, October 10, 2005
To get to work each day, Tawfiq Nasser needs a green card, known as a “dirty ID.” He also needs what is called a magnetic card to show that he is not a terrorist or security threat.
On top of that, he must carry two permits, both of which have to be renewed every few months.
Nasser is one of the lucky ones. As director and CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, the Palestinian doctor moves about the city and the rest of Israel with some aggravation and complication.
“This is a privilege, a real privilege,” he told an audience of about 40 Sunday afternoon at Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg.
Nasser, who has studied and worked in the U.S., was in Madison to give a presentation, “A View From Jerusalem: Challenges for Palestinian Health Care.” He also spoke at St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Monona. His appearances were co-sponsored by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
“I am not angry,” said Nasser, 40, noting that he makes a good living and has a driver to help navigate the checkpoints.
But with its 52 permanent and 60 “flying” or mobile checkpoints, and now its security fence almost half complete, the Israeli government punishes the whole Palestinian population for the crimes of a few, creating “more anger, polarization and radicalization,” he said.
Suicide bombers — whom Nasser calls creative and “literally crazy” — will plan their attacks close to the wall to make holes in it, he said: “Just to signify to the world that we need a way out. We can’t just be prisoners.”
Israel contends that its controversial 435-mile security barrier — a mixture of concrete, razor wire, ditches and electronic fence – is crucial in keeping out Palestinian suicide bombers.
Hundreds of Israeli civilians have been killed and injured in suicide attacks in the last five years. Israel maintains that the wall has cut attacks significantly.
The U.S. administration is talking about a viable Palestinian state, Nasser said.
“We appreciate Bush saying it,” he said. “We just don’t know if he meant it. Like when he said we are in a ‘crusade’ in the Middle East. Whoops!”