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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Hear any good news lately?

DEBKA: Syrian, Saudi Rulers Blame Terror Woes on "the Zionists"
The teaming up of al Qaeda terrorists with Iraqi guerrillas on a Middle East rampage against American, British, Jordanian, Saudi, Syrian and Israeli targets last month exposes three dangerous developments:

A. Iraq has turned into a hub that radiates terrorist violence far beyond its borders as demonstrated by the April 20 battle in the Hashemi district of Amman, the April 21 bomb blast at Saudi General Intelligence Headquarters in Riyadh and the Saudi security forces? shootout with armed bands in Jeddah port on April 22. In all these cases, local security forces were confronted with infiltrating Iraqi combatants.

B. Al Qaeda has provided itself with a large reservoir of crack troops from Saddam Hussein's Special Republican Guards who are willing to fight and lay down their lives for the sake of terrorist action on behalf of al Qaeda. These men are highly trained in urban guerrilla tactics and chemical and biological warfare. Their participation enabled the Islamic fundamentalist organization to attempt a chemical attack in Jordan in the second half of April.

C. The ruling Arab dynasties of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria find themselves in the grip of unprecedented hazards.
Al-Ahram (Cairo): Unprecedented TV campaign to dispel negative Palestinian image in U.S.
Palestinian and American peace activists launched an unprecedented television campaign to dispel the negative Palestinian image among the US public. Khaled Dawoud reports from Washington

A long-standing taboo in popular local American cable television networks was broken this week. A pro-Palestinian group aired for the first time a number of short, sharp, catchy and extremely moving 15-second advertisements seeking to deliver a simple message to a largely pro-Israeli American public: Palestinians are human beings too. . . .

On Monday 19 April, the first in a series of advertisements was launched on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, MTV, The History Channel, Black Entertainment TV and several local stations.

Imagine-Life -- mainly made up of young Americans of Palestinian origin supported by several pro-peace American and Jewish-American organisations -- spent months preparing for the campaign, carefully working on the message they wanted to deliver, and even more so on how to deliver it without giving influential pro-Israel organisations cause to protest and kill the project altogether.

The campaign is planned to go on for six months with organisers hoping to raise more funds in order to prolong airtime. Janienah Shaouri Ghanam of Imagine-Life said that the unprecedented awareness campaign aimed at "reaching average Americans who do not know much about the conflict". Thus the logo that precedes each of the six advertisements reads "Occupation 101".

The campaign highlights the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, mainly focussing on the cases of children, Palestinian Christians and average citizens who are not involved in the conflict. One advertisement refers to the Israeli pilots and soldiers who have publicly announced their opposition to the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the excessive force they are ordered to deploy by superiors. Israeli Refuser Solidarity Network is among the various pro-peace groups backing the awareness campaign on US television networks. Other groups include Remember These Children, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Holy Land Christian Society.

"We wish to convey to the American public that most people want to have a normal life without checkpoints and daily killing," said Hanna Hanania, another member of Imagine-Life. Nadine Wahab, who moved from New York to Washington to help in the production of the advertisements, said these topics were carefully chosen "as we have to concede that many Americans do not know what occupation means, or that there are Christians in Palestine, or that there are people inside Israel itself who oppose occupation and support Palestinian rights". . . .

Another advertisement shows black and white images of poor young children -- some smiling, others weeping -- while member of the United Nations Human Rights Fact- Finding Commission Richard Falk recounts a psychological study of 1,000 Palestinian children which reflected how they were "so dehumanised and generally humiliated by the Israeli Defence Forces".

However, two of the most moving ads, according to many of those who attended a fund-raising event to mark the launch of the campaign, used no images at all. One opens with a child's laughter, accompanied by a heartbeat and the sound of a machine indicating a normal pulse. Meanwhile, a typed script appears on the screen as the laughter of the child turns into crying, the sound of the heartbeat stops and a long beep is heard: "The collapse of the peace process has caused the death of innocence. Suffering is escalating on both sides. Nearly 500 Palestinian children and over 100 Israeli children have been killed since September 2000. How many children must die? Speak out against the cycle of violence."

There's another piece I was going to add, where writer Ellen Horowitz says, "Seems like a lot of us are still waiting for the Allied forces to bomb the tracks," but it's really more than I can bear for now. Maybe tomorrow.