Last Tuesday was a very long day for satellite TV stations as Arabs and the rest of the world watched Israeli tanks demolishing the walls of Jericho’s prison and threatening the security forces and Palestinian prisoners inside, forcing them to leave the compound almost naked with their arms raised. The crime scene concluded in the evening with the image of Ahmad Saadat, the Palestinian leader, shackled and led outside his prison cell by Israeli soldiers, who shattered any faint hopes the Palestinian Authority harbored about trying to convince its citizens, let alone the world, it was in control of the situation.
Before the curtains lowered on the day’s events, satellite new channels broadcast other footage showing angry armed Palestinian fighters and youths attacking and damaging the headquarters of foreign missions and detaining western doctors, journalists and aid workers, who obviously had no links to the Israeli crime or the U.S-British collusion in it.
The pictures of Israeli tanks appeared decisive ahead of the Israeli elections scheduled for the end of March, especially for acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The media’s celebration of the Jericho raid inflamed Palestinian feelings further.
As for the scenes of Palestinian anger, they appeared at first sight to be in defense of feelings of humiliation, powerlessness and anger towards the renunciation of their rights by any Arab or Western protector. They represent a case of targeting the wrong victim at the wrong time. The footage of Palestinian anger was broadcast on our screens in a similar manner to the tragedy in Iraq.
If Arabs are always pressed and asked, insistently and sometimes rightfully, to prove they are different that the image established by al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden or his lieutenant Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the West is also required to wipe out the images that have become fixed in the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, such as the one of the Israeli tank invading a refugee camp or a prison, surrounding civilians and frightening children.
One set of images recalls the other… The prison footage was associated in Arab minds with the withdrawal of Western observers, making it easy not to differentiate between the observers and the Israeli tank and between two French doctors or Red Cross employee or a Western journalist… If we are required to rid ourselves of the image of a young man standing in Central London wearing a mock suicide belt, during a protest against the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the West has to also effectively get rid of the images of the Israeli tank raiding, threatening, shelling and killing…
The toughest part is that, no sooner had we closely observed the pictures in Jericho and the subsequent events, that our screens and newspapers were filled with images of Iraqi children who died in an American raid!