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Home Investigations Al-Durah Reception and Consequences Impact Arab World
Stephanie Gutmann's description of al-Dura's martyrology

"Stephanie Gutmann's description of al-Dura's martyrology"
Published: "The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and The Struggle for ...,
Author: Stephanie Gutmann

ABSTRACT: Stephanie Gutmann's description of al-Dura's martyrology

QUOTE: "Though he is now found in Palestinian Authority textbooks and in paintings by children on school walls, Mohammed's greatest presence is on television and computer screens. He has become the poster boy in what Martin Fletcher of NBC called "commercials" for the recruitment of child shaheeds."

KEYWORDS: al-Dura, Martyrology, Jihad.

"Meanwhile, Mohammed al-Dura lives on. Reporters who have gone to his house in El Bureish say it's like visiting a shrine. It is said that pictures of him begin to appear on the sides of buildings blocks away and proliferate until one reaches his home, which is covered with paintings and a graffito (identical to the one seen fleetingly in the famous France 2 video on the wall behind Mohammed and Jamal) reading, "What is taken by violence can only be taken back by violence.

Though he is now found in Palestinian Authority textbooks and in paintings by children on school walls, Mohammed's greatest presence is on television and computer screens. He has become the poster boy in what Martin Fletcher of NBC called "commercials" for the recruitment of child shaheeds. The Palestinian Ministry of Information broadcasts many of these during the day, and they come in a range of styles, some obviously aimed at young children: "Choose Death, the Life Will Follow" is the title of one. Some are obviously targeting teens. Some – with handsome adult males as hosts and serious, well-spoken little girls espousing the importance of shahada – apparently target preteen girls. Some, addressed to parents, feature mothers talking about their pride at having given birth to a shaheed …

In the special video they made to commemorate the martyrdom of little Mohammed, though, the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information appears to have spared no expense, using every trick in the video-maker's playbook to end up with a presentation that looks like Metallica video circa 1990 boosted with twenty first century digital imaging. The production starts with an actor playing Mohammed wandering in "paradise" – a dreamy shot of a field filled with children his age. Then a barrage of images: A beautiful palace, like the Taj mahal, surrounded by a fountain and palm trees. The sky behind the palace is purple and filled with storm clouds that race across the sky in time-lapse. A rose, filmed in extreme close-up and in time-lapse, bursts into full bloom. The camera cuts away at the apex of the explosion of its petals. Fields of wheat ripple in the wind; waves crash on a shore. ' How beautiful is the breeze of the martyr, how beautiful is the scent of the land, which is fed from the waterfall of blood, springing from an angry body," intones a deep masculine voice in the background.

One of the last images in the video is a peaceful beach on a sunny day. At the water's edge, a ghostly, half-transparent young boy is running with joyful, free, loping steps that make him seem to hover above the ground. We watch him run away from us toward the horizon and then the shadowy figure turns his head and gives us a jaunty wave. It is an echo of the opening shot of the movie: a black screen with words in white Arabic calligraphy reading, "I am waving to you not in farewell, but to beckon you to follow me. Mohammed al-Dura." (pp. 81-83)

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