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Thursday, May 06, 2010

An American flag is raised in Gaza

International aid workers in Gaza came up with the idea to stage a mock World Cup tournament, with different "countries" being represented. The goal was, as usual, to highlight the "siege" where Gazans cannot freely travel to the real World Cup matches.

One of the teams symbolized the US:
Bystanders chuckled on Wednesday as the American flag was raised to great fanfare over the Gaza City football stadium, when the country's team challenged the Serbians to a mock World Cup match.

The American team, made mostly of aid workers from Al-Maghazi-area American workers, was set to face off with the Serbian team, from the Az-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, and onlookers marveled at the verve with which game patrons cheered as the American flag was hoisted above the pitch.

The excitement for the American team was largely based on its high-profile aid workers, all from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office, who conceived of and sponsored the games. Wearing jersey number 20 is the director of one of the Gaza branches of the program.

UNDP teamed up with the Palestinian Football Association and put together 16 different national teams, pulling in Palestinian ringers from across the Strip, and including aid workers from the different countries to play under their flags.

Speaking with Ma'an ahead of the match, players on the team said the Gaza World Cup was "meant as a message to the international community that the people of Gaza want to live in peace with the world, that they want football and not war."

Rami Hamdan, who also plays in the American team, said that while he was ecstatic to play alongside the UNDP workers, his excitement for the stars and stripes stops at current US foreign policy. "We distinguish between the U.S. government and the American people, and we believe that the American people are different than their administration," he added.
I guess that Obama's overtures to the Arab world have not made any impact. Time for him to redouble his efforts to make them like him better.

Filming the match for Al-Jazeera, Ayman Muhy Ad-Din, was smiling. "Just like Palestinians to create this kind of joy in the middle of a tragedy," he said, adding that the match was a good opportunity to let the world know about the suffering in Gaza.
But - it wasn't Palestinian Arabs who came up with this idea, it was international aid workers! Here' a great example where Al Jazeera is fully doing propaganda, not news.

And here's the proof that these games are not simply to create joy in Gaza but for pure propaganda purposes:

On the closing day, when one team triumphs over all the others, they will be handed the Gaza World Cup, a hand made sculpture crafted out of the twisted iron of demolished homes in Gaza.

“The western media had a big role in distorting the true picture of the Palestinians and do not focus on the positive side of the Palestinians,” the Al-Jazeera correspondent said, hoping footage from the match would make its way from the Arabic to English station of his news station, and from there to the living rooms of the western world.
The first commenter on the article is actually on the American team and wasn't happy with this article, which again indicates that truth is hardly what this tournament is about:
Patrick / Gaza
I'm sorry who were the UNDP players on the American team? Answer -- there weren't any. Next time ask us on the American team who we are and you might learn more than you're being fed by some of the sponsors.