Smokey Bear. Woodsy Owl. McGruff. Remember the public service announcements that used to be interspersed among Saturday morning cartoons? This is not one of them.
The video clip in question can be viewed here at Palestinian Media Watch (scroll down to “Al-Dura Calls Children to Follow him to Paradise”).
From Haaretz: “PA television airs clip encouraging children to become shaheeds”
This week, Palestinian television reprised, after a three-year absence, a clip featuring Palestinian child Mohammed a-Dura, calling to other children to join him in a shaheed heaven for children.
The dramatic heart-wrenching footage of a-Dura, shot dead in crossfire in a clash between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip in the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, was broadcast around the world.
Dramatic, but discredited.
“Palestinian Media Watch” reported on the television clip on Saturday, and announced, “The Palestinian Authority is once again airing video clips designed to influence the behavior of young children and to make them seek deaths as shaheeds.”
The clip, which caused much controversy when it first aired, was taken off the air in the fall of 2003, after Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus, presented the clip at a U.S. Senate hearing.
Following the hearing, senators slammed the clip and criticized it as “horrifying abuse of children.”
In the clip, a child portraying a-Dura is peacefully playing in heaven, and calls to other children, “follow me.” The popular singer Aida performs the song in the clip, which describes how the earth longs for the deaths of children, saying, “How pleasant is the smell of the earth whose thirst is quenched by blood pouring out of young bodies.”
Another clip that aired this week after a long absence depicts a young girl witnessing her mother’s murder and then singing about how she misses her mother. She sings, “If you can’t come to me, I can come to you.”
Palestinian Media Watch reported that the 2000-2003 Palestinian television campaign to recruit young children was so effective, that 70 to 80 percent of Palestinian children during that time wanted to die as shaheeds, according to three separate
Marcus fears that the “sudden and surprising reprisal of the a-Dura clip, calling upon children to join him in a playground in shaheed children’s heaven, may be only the first of many steps in a wide campaign designed to recruit children for the cause.”