Marcus Reflects on the Return of al Durah

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook have an op-ed on the return of Muhammad al Durah to Palestinian TV screens. Child abuse become national policy.

Seducing children to martyrdom

As Israel enters the northern Gaza Strip, there are signs that the Palestinian Authority plans to renew the tactic of sending children to the front lines as human shields to obstruct the IDF.

PA TV is again broadcasting music videos designed to brainwash young children into seeking death as shahids – martyrs for Allah. Shahada-promoting music videos were first broadcast thousands of times on Palestinian TV from 2000 through 2004.

One of the most sinister of these clips was broadcast twice last week, according to our research after a three-year absence. The clip features a child actor playing the most famous Palestinian child martyr, Muhammad al-Dura – whose death in a crossfire was broadcast to the entire world – calling to other Palestinian children to literally follow him to Child Martyrs’ Heaven.

“I am waving not to part but to say, ‘Follow me,'” is Dura’s invitation on the TV screen.

The children watching this video are then shown what awaits them if they join Dura in death. The video follows the child actor – “Dura” – joyously frolicking in heaven. He romps on the beach, plays with a kite and runs toward a Ferris wheel.

The children are being told that death in conflict with Israel will bring them into a child’s paradise. Muhammad al-Dura is already in this paradise, tranquil and fun-filled.

This call to children to seek death, coming from the child who has turned into a Palestinian hero, and broadcast to their children by PA TV, is one of the most odious examples of exploitation of children witnessed on PA TV.

THE WORDS sung by the popular singer Aida are as insidious as the pictures. The earth is described as yearning for the children’s death – “its thirst quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body.”

The main lyrics of the clip are as follows:


How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs,
how sweet is the fragrance of the earth,
its thirst quenched by the gush of blood
flowing from the youthful body.
Caption: And so he went…
Choir: Good-bye to the boy Muhammad (2x)
Aida: Good-bye, good-bye…
Aida: How sweet is the scent of the earth,
its thirst satisfied by the gush of blood
flowing from the body of youth.
Choir: Good-bye, good-bye.
Aida: Good-bye, good-bye…
Choir: O father, ’til we meet (2x)
Aida: ‘Til we meet, my father, ’til we meet!
I shall go with no fear, no tears.
How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs!
I shall go to my place in heaven,
How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs!…

WHEN PREVIOUSLY shown, the clip closed with the credit:
“Produced by: The Ministry of Information & Culture – The Palestinian National Fund.”

This year the credit has been erased.

A SECOND music video rebroadcast after years of absence, opens with a girl witnessing the cold-blooded murder of her mother. The child then sings for five minutes about how she misses her mother, including the repeating refrain: “If you can’t come to me, I can go to you.”

This particular clip was first broadcast in December 2000. It was one of dozens of PA TV clips targeting children that portrayed shahada as “sweet” and idyllic.

This tactic was exceedingly effective for the Palestinian Authority. As children went to the front lines to try to copy Dura, the IDF had great difficulty aiming at gunmen who were firing from behind the children and using them as human shields.

In addition, when children were killed by either side, the Palestinians used them effectively for propaganda purposes. And indeed Israel was universally condemned for these deaths.

This clip was removed in the fall of 2003, after we showed it at a hearing in the US Senate and drew outrage from US senators. Sen. Hillary Clinton attacked it a “horrific child abuse,” and Sen. Arlen Specter denounced it as “civilization abuse.”

The reason for its sudden rebroadcast now, after three years, seems clear: The PA learned a long time ago that images of dead children are an ideal way of manipulating public opinion against Israel. Images of children running up to tanks and of children’s funerals are precisely what the PA used so successfully in the past.

It is apparently planning to revive this tactic if Israel moves deeper into Gaza in search of terror leaders.

Societies prepare for battle in different ways. Some focus on military preparations, while others focus on prayer. For the Palestinian Authority, battle preparation means encouraging their children to leave their homes for the front lines and to seek death.

Marcus is director and Crook is associate director of Palestinian Media Watch.

Comment: The authors are right. But they don’t place any of the onus on the Western media whose willingness to run footage from Pallywood, and especially of Muhammad al Durah, create such spectacular successes for the Palestinians in the media war, that sacrificing their children actually makes a perverted sense. Nor do they mention the strong likelihood that al Durah was neither shot by Israelis nor even killed. And ironically — a most bitter irony — it is precisely the tender-hearted progressives who anguish over every hair on every child’s head who make this policy of child abuse and child sacrifice successful. Talk about the road to hell…

As for the words to the song, you have to see Aida sing it in order to appreciate what’s going on in Palestinian society — the most popular female singer, not a religious zealot (she wears no veil or headscarf), singing words that should (?) turn one’s stomach. This is not a national liberation movement, this is a cult of death, a cult of child sacrifice in which everyone seems to play his or her part.

Not all, however, play it as willing as those Western “supporters” of the Palestinian people. For example, some of the parents of suicide bombers despise the reporters who want to know if they’re “proud” of their child-martyr, and truly hate the hatemongers who urge their children to sacrifice themselves. As the father of one girl put it:

“Those guys who set my daughter up — they took advantage of her age and her ideas of the world. What has happened has turned my life upside down,” he said. “If I knew who set up Hiba, I’d kill him. Why didn’t he send his own daughter or wife or mother?”

A good question. And why doesn’t our media, rather than give us a picture of a Palestinian people in despair over what Israel does to them, give us a sense of how bitterly the subjects of Palestinian elites feel about their rulers. Of course, that might mean opening up an awareness that, by repeating the victim narrative that scapegoats the Israelis, they may just be participating in victimizing the Palestinian people.

5 Responses to Marcus Reflects on the Return of al Durah

  1. saus says:

    And what of the children as they grow up..
    What kind of generation will result from this? That is a question I rarely see asked..

    What came out of the Hitler Youth in WWII, another indoctrination tool?.. The most fanatical soldiers in Germany, including the SS men, and I would put the Hitler Youth in which the vast majority of Germany’s young participated in a class that is mild compared to the hatred on PA tv.

  2. RL says:

    the germans also nourished a cult of death where the children wanted to die and the parents were often appalled at what happened to their kids.

    your question is an excellent one, and all those therapeutic mediators who want to make things better should probably get to work on this right away. the fact that the world can look on (or avoid looking) while this thing plays out is one of the signs of the moral madness of our current world scene. how can civil society protect itself when it behaves so self-destructively?

  3. Gershon says:

    Saus asks, “And what of the children as they grow up..
    What kind of generation will result from this? That is a question I rarely see asked..”

    The same is going on in Egypt.,7340,L-3271274,00.html

    The “moral madness” is played out by an Egyptian cleric working for the state ministry of religious endowment preaching on a children’s tv show, “Sa’id, the 15-year-old child, was martyred for the sake of Allah. He died happy.”

  4. Couldn’t find an email for you, RL. Just wanted to tip you to this list of women suicide bombers:

  5. Lynne T says:

    Calling it “child abuse” is to put far too mild a face on elderly, and often rather wealthy men who may have no such plans for their close kin promoting this for the children of their less advantaged brethren whose pain they will assuage with a bit of money while they siphon off big bucks from the “widow and orphan charities” they operate.

    And don’t overlook the priming the mothers of the shahids receive — fetted, as the infamous Um Nidal — now a Hamas legislator in the PA, who funded her electoral ambitions with the blood money she was paid for three of her six sons.

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