This process could lead to an instructive moment for Obama in the pitfalls of “dialogue” with parties who are all too eager to appear concerned, and say one thing, but do another or perhaps nothing at all, or do the right thing only after appalling delay and intense scrutiny. One hopes his staff and U.S. authorities follow through on securing the girls’ return.
“Obama’s secret rescue mission seeks to free US mom’s kids from Palestinian ‘captivity’,” by Ginger Adams Otis for the New York Post, July 27:
Barack Obama carried out a secret assignment during his global tour last week.
While talking about the Middle East peace process in the West Bank Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee slipped a note to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The private message: Help an anguished Chicago mother get her daughters back.
Obama detailed the plight of Colleen Bargouthi, 36. She says that for the last year, her four daughters have been held in the Palestinian territories, made to wear headdresses and schooled in Islam by their Muslim father, Yasser Shibli.
Obama asked Fayyad’s help in Colleen’s fight to get her girls home after their Palestinian dad blocked them from returning from what was to be a six-week family trip to his hometown of Ramallah on the West Bank.
“According to Colleen, [her husband] hit her, kept her as a virtual prisoner in her in-laws’ home and menaced her with guns,” the note reads.
The husband promised he “would return the girls if she went home and found a job and a place for the family.
“Yasser Shibli Bargouthi has since told Colleen that her daughters will never be allowed to leave to return to their mother. I would ask that the minister of justice look into this case.”
Obama also asked the US consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Welles, to investigate and work with Fayyad.
Colleen had taken her case to the Chicago media and met with Obama’s camp. But she was unaware of his efforts until contacted by The Post.
An Obama staffer called Colleen Thursday saying that Fayyad had vowed to look into the situation.
“I can’t believe it. I am so amazed and pleased,” she said.
Colleen could never have imagined the turn of events her life has taken. She was Colleen Davis when she met Yasser, a grocery-store manager, in 1993 through a friend while she worked as a waitress at Midway Airport.
He was a Muslim and she a Baptist, but he told her it was not an issue. She made her religious beliefs clear to his clan and got their blessing before the two married in a Christian ceremony 15 years ago.
Six months later, they traveled to Ramallah and she was welcomed into the family. “I always told him that I was a Christian and would remain one, and that any children we had would be raised Christian,” she says.
The couple settled in a Chicago suburb with her son, Ricky, from a previous marriage and had four daughters, Emily, 11, Hannah, 8, Amanda, 6 and Sarah, 5.
Colleen was a stay-at-home mom and her husband became manager of a cellphone store.
The couple bought a house in 1999 but sold it when they couldn’t make the payments.
Her husband rarely spoke about his religion and never went to mosque services, she said. Their children attended Cedar Lake Community Christian school. […]
The couple returned to Ramallah for a family visit and were there on Sept. 11, 2001. They were unable to return home for months and Colleen gave birth there to her fourth child, Amanda.
She told her husband she never wanted to return to the Palestinian territories. But in a nightmare ordeal, he packed up his wife and the five kids for a third trip to Ramallah in June 2007.
“He really wanted to go, and I trusted him, and assumed we’d all come back from this trip, as we had the others,” she said.
Almost immediately, tensions arose between the formerly happily married pair.
“He said right away that he didn’t want to go home again,” Colleen said.
He enrolled all five children in a private American school and signed them up for Islamic religion classes.
“I protested, but it didn’t matter . . . When I refused to put headdresses on my daughters, the school said they would fail. Eventually, I pulled them out,” Colleen said.
“He felt it was better for the girls to be raised in an Islamic society and not in America.”
He demanded that she convert to Islam and grew angry over her refusal, and began to get abusive….
Read it all.