UN agency disavows video venerating terrorist

UN Population Fund representative tells 'Post' campaign which deems female Palestinian terrorist Dalal Mughrabi a “model woman” disavowed.

February 10, 2011 21:03
3 minute read.
Mughrabi hailed as 'model woman' in Arab TV.

White hands campaign 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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NEW YORK – A representative from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the UN would disavow a television campaign being aired on Arab television stations with the fund’s imprimatur, that deems a female Palestinian terrorist a “model woman.”

As initially reported by Palestinian Media Watch, the “White Hands Campaign,” designed to address women's issues, was produced by the Arab Producers Union for TV in cooperation with the UNFPA.

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Female Palestinian terrorist Dalal Mughrabi is featured in a clip titled “The Model Woman,” which honors Arab women of the past. Mughrabi directed the hijacking of two buses during the Coastal Road massacre between Haifa and Tel Aviv in 1978, resulting in the murder of 37 Israelis, including 13 children, and an American photographer.

In the clip, Mughrabi is saluted as a role model for “martyrdom” and “victory over enmity.”

Al-Khansa, a seventh-century Arab poet who celebrated her four sons’ martyrdom deaths in battle, is similarly praised in the video footage as an example of “resolve” and “martyrdom and giving.”

The television campaign has been broadcast on over 50 Arab television stations, including the official channel of the Palestinian Authority.

In a statement released to the press Thursday evening, UNFPA said it " no involvement in the selection of women profiled in the “White Hands Campaign” of the Arab Producers’ Union for TV (APUTV), and has asked for its logo to be removed from the site."

The press release states that in 2008, UNFPA "agreed to provide the campaign with information and data on reproductive health and youth issues. It provided no funding." More importantly, it continues, "UNFPA was neither consulted nor involved in the selection of Arab women to be featured by the initiative, and it condemns any acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people. The Fund therefore disassociates itself from campaign activities not related to its mandate."

"APUTV works under the umbrella of the League of Arab States, and through the Arab Ministers Information Council. UNFPA provided information to the campaign based on its longstanding cooperation with the League of Arab States, and working within its mandate to advance maternal health, promote gender equality and support population and development strategies," the statement concludes.

“When we were approached by a union of journalists in April 2008, they asked us to help them identify issues related to reproductive health, which could be featured in a TV production on women engaged in humanitarian work,” UNFPA senior media adviser and spokesman Abubakar Dungus told the Post in an e-mail.

“We agreed to provide story ideas and public information on maternal health, and nothing beyond the mandate of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund,” Dungus continued.

“We were not consulted or involved in choosing the persons to be featured,” he went on. “So, definitely we disavow any program or activity that is not related to our mandate of promoting safe motherhood.”

According to a staff member of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is that body's understanding "that the UNFPA did not authorize the use of their logo or name for this campaign.  They provided no funding or editorial content and we understand that they have asked that their logo be removed from this Arab Producers Union for TV campaign."

American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, in a call for UNFPA to dissociate itself immediately from the program, declared, “It is disgraceful, in a region scarred by systematic discrimination against women, that a terrorist like Mughrabi should be held up as a role model for women.”

He added that “the UN Population Fund has done a lot to empower women, and thus should immediately disassociate itself from this TV campaign glorifying terrorism.”

When the Palestinian Authority named a Ramallah square after Mughrabi in March 2010, the AJC called on the Obama administration to condemn the action, which occurred while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the region.

“As long as a terrorist like Mughrabi occupies a place in the pantheon of Arab heroes, a genuine peace in the region, based on trust and mutual respect, cannot be achieved,” Harris said.

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