The Daily Life of Kawther Salam

  ..: American Delegation in the Netherlands :..
June 29, 2006

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We were in the western part of Zeeland, at the Brouwersdam restaurant.

He hid a deep sadness within. He asked why I had not written about the official delegation from the U.S. who had visited the Netherlands after the Katrina disaster. “Always I read your reports, always I guess that your new article is about Netherlands, and then I find you writing about him and something else!” he reproached me. His request angered me. I don’t like talk about politics at the lunch table. Politics has always taken away my appetite. I also felt that he was attacking another friend with his request.

We kept silence; we sent back the fish plate and left the restaurant. I told my friend that nothing was against him, but that I am a political journalist, and that the American politics makes me disgust. The Americans have brought disasters upon themselves and to other nations. This is why I didn’t write about Katrina and the Americans officials who visited the Netherlands in the aftermath.

The American officials who visited the Netherlands after Katrina were Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator David Vitter, Congressman Bill Jefferson, and Congresswoman Kathleen Blanco. This was in January, 2006. They joined Prince Willem Alexander for a tour to the Ramp Museum in Waterland Neeltje Jans and attended a lecture about the “Delta Project”, about preserving the environment and securing Zeeland against flooding, and the struggle against the sea. Working below sea level and with water has given the Dutch a world-wide reputation. For example, the Zuyder Zee project protected a large area of the country from flooding and gave the country about 160,000 hectares of new land.

The Netherlands has a long and varied experience of hydraulic engineering, particularly constructing dykes, digging canals, draining and building locks, bridges, tunnels and ports:

Ramp 1953 - Entry to the exposition about the 1953 disaster in Zeeland

In 1953, the ocean flooded the Netherlands. A large part of the south west of the Netherlands was flooded, claiming 1835 lives. After this tragic event, the Dutch implemented the plans of the “Delta Project”.

In 1958 the Dutch Parliament passed the Delta Act, which launched the Delta Plan, involving the closure of all tidal inlets except the New Waterway and the Western Scheldt, the shipping routes to Rotterdam and Antwerp.

The American media did not make public the visit to the Netherlands by some of their officials. The American always want to rise above others, even when they have to rely on the help of these others, preferring to steal their engineering experience instead of asking for it or receiving it as a favor. In this case, the Americans could not admit in public that the Netherlands has a better flood protection system than they have, that they took charge of their problem in a responsible way.

At the end of January, 2006, at the Brouwersdam restaurant in Zeeland, I met two Dutch workers, Raymond and Leon. They called my attention to the visit to Netherlands by the U.S. delegation. They were unhappy about the American politics.

With Raymond and Leon at Brouwersdam Restaurant

Raymond was angry. He told me that two months before, an American airplane had landed at Schiphol, the Amsterdam International Airport. “It is not fair to bring people from outside our country and put them in jail in our homeland”. I asked Raymond: “Do you think that jailing people by Americans in your homeland is a violation of Human Rights?”  He said that the issue was not related to the human rights. The Dutch people are all against this kind of Americans behavior. “I think that in Netherlands we respect human rights, the Dutch people respect them, but the U.S does not respect them”, he said.

Raymond added “the Americans are trying to brainwash everybody”. He said that at the beginning he had supported the American war against Iraq, but after the arrest of Saddam Hussein there was no justification left for an American presence in Iraq. “I think the Americans should pull out immediately”, he said.
Raymond was very proud of the history of his country. He said that the Delta Project is a great project of which all Dutch are very proud. Originally, the place where the restaurant stands had been part of sea. That was before the Delta Project. 15 years ago Mr. Uwe Jendrush from Germany came here on a tour, the next year he returned and built this restaurant. Raymond, who worked at the restaurant, was very friendly. He also cooked very well.

View of dike, part of the Delta Project (click for bigger view).

On my return to Vienna through Amsterdam airport, I saw the security men humiliating the passengers at the boarding gate. The way they ask the people to take off their clothes and shoes, and how they touch the bodies of the passengers angered me. When my turn to pass the boarding gate came, a security woman grabbed my breast and abused me. I told her that what she was doing is a clear abuse that it had nothing to do with “security measures”.

The security man nearby who heard my comment, said: “We are implementing the American security demands at this airport”. He said that they had to implement the security roles of the Americans. I asked the security man what he thought about the American secret Jails in his homeland. He smiled and said that this is a big violation of human rights.

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