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West Bank: Al Jazeera loses love over Palestinian national anthem parody

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(Read caption) Inside the Al Jazeera TV studio in Qatar.

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A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Palestinians closely identified with Fatah – the mainstream faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the leading force of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – have long since fallen out of love with Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel based in Qatar. The channel, Fatah officials charge, often tilts toward Hamas.

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But on a recent program that focused on how miserably divided Palestinian society is, Al Jazeera broadcast a scathing parody of the Palestinian national anthem, “Mawtini,” meaning “My Homeland.”

The lyrics include:
Catastrophe, hypocrisy, calamity!

Oppressors, cunning people who lack sincerity, you are controlling my homeland.

I see you suffocated, constricted, mouth folded.

Reconciliation will not appear in the form of unity….

Each party wants to satisfy the enemy, and neither cares about mosque or country.

All they care about is humiliating their people.

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All they care about is the dollar, the dinar, and their properties and real-estate projects....

Palestinians are outraged, and several mainstream Palestinian newspapers have run editorials demanding an apology. Dr. Ghassan Khatib, the head of the Palestinian Information Centre in Ramallah, says the anger goes beyond Fatah.

“This is the first time that people other than Fatah members are criticizing Al Jazeera for its behavior. This is a responsible satellite channel that should not be insulting the Palestinian national anthem,” says Dr. Khatib. “The media should play a neutral role, and this was not neutral.”

Walid Omari, the head of Al Jazeera’s offices that cover the Palestinian territories and Israel, defends the station’s programming.

“We did not invent the reworded national anthem. It had been on YouTube for 10 days and our colleague, Ghassan Bin Jaddo, who hosted the discussion program ... did not mean to insult the Palestinian people,” he says. “If the PA and Fatah are so angry with the issue of the national anthem,” he adds, “they should be working on the reconciliation rather than wasting their time on
attacking Al Jazeera, which is only a medium.”