Ramallah rally 298.88.
(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli)
Anti-American sentiment has been running high in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Israel-Hizbullah war three weeks ago. Aside from burning US flags and praising the insurgency in Iraq, demonstrators have also been directing much of their criticism toward US Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice, who visited Israel and Ramallah recently in a bid to resolve the crisis in Lebanon.
Rice's visit to Ramallah, where she met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was accompanied by calls for a general strike in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as articles and cartoons depicting her as a "black raven" and "child murderer." Shortly before Rice's heavily-guarded motorcade entered Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians marched in the center of the city, calling on Abbas to boycott her and strongly denouncing the US for its bias toward Israel.
PA policemen used force to disperse the protesters, some of whom carried placards featuring Rice as a raven preying on the corpse of children. On Tuesday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Ramallah in one of the biggest shows of solidarity with Hizbullah. The rally was organized by Fatah and other factions.
During the rally, Fatah officials openly expressed their backing for Hizbullah and urged the Arab countries to join the battle against Israel. Hani al-Hassan, a top Fatah leader closely associated with Abbas, declared that his party had instructed all its armed men to be prepared to fight against Israel.
Calling on Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah to bomb Tel Aviv, many protesters also chanted slogans against Rice and the US. "O Condaleezza, you are a condara [shoe]," shouted a group of Fatah activists. An elderly woman yelled: "Shame on you, Condaleezza, your parents were slaves for the whites!"
"The Palestinians hate her because of her arrogance and because of the policy she represents," said a veteran Palestinian newspaper editor. "Moreover, many Palestinians are angry with her because they think that all black people should be on their side."
The PA media, which is controlled by Abbas's office, has been targeting Rice since the days of Yasser Arafat. The attacks intensified after the US decision to boycott Arafat in 2001 - a decision which Arafat and his top aides believed was taken at the behest of Rice.
In the past three weeks, the Arab media in general and the PA media in particular have resumed their scathing attacks on Rice - this time because of her call for establishing a new Middle East after the war in Lebanon is over.
Under the headline "Rice, go to hell!" the Gaza-based Donia al-Watan on-line magazine ran an article by Mahmoud Abu Nur in which he said: "Mrs. Rice, go to hell you and your smart bombs. Take your new Middle East back home and don't ever return here. The Arab people are wary of your malicious message."
This week a cartoon in the PA-funded Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda mocked Rice's hope for the birth of a new Middle East by drawing her pregnant with a monkey. The paper has also published pictures of demonstrators with posters of Rice drinking blood dripping from dead babies and saying: "I need more blood." One picture showed an American flag with the words in English and Arabic "Murderer Rice go to hell!"
According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinians "seem to have a special penchant for hating Rice. Some of the attacks have included expressions of racial hatred, as in an article this week referring to Rice as a raven and a previous article that referred to her as 'the colored,' 'the dark skinned' and 'the black lady.'"