Skip to comments.Saudis Hold Telethon for Palestinian 'Martyrs'
Posted on 04/12/2002 7:14:45 AM PDT by Loyalist
Saudis hold telethon for 'Palestinian martyrs'
Event ordered by King Fahd raises millions of dollars and a Rolls-Royce
The Associated Press
Ali Jarekji, Reuters
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A princess donated her Rolls-Royce, one woman gave up her dowry and other Saudis poured millions of dollars into a fund to help families of Palestinian "martyrs" in a countrywide telethon yesterday.
Wheelchair-bound children braved unseasonable rain in Riyadh to drop cash into plastic boxes outside the state-run television station, which, along with the radio, was organizing the drive. Long lines of cars jammed the area, with drivers giving cash, gold jewellery and clothes to volunteers with collection bags.
In the first five hours of the 11-hour fundraising campaign, almost US$12-million had been donated. The telethon was due to end at 3 a.m. this morning.
"We love you," said Sheik Saleh bin Hussein al-Ayed, a member of the Islamic Affairs Ministry, in an address to Palestinians during the telethon. "We cannot forget you or ignore what's happening to you by the [Israeli] aggressors."
The event, ordered by King Fahd and broadcast live by local and Saudi-owned satellite channels, aims to help relatives of "martyrs" -- part of a wave of Arab support for the Palestinians amid Israel's offensive in the West Bank.
The term "martyrs" has been used by the Palestinians to refer to anyone killed by Israelis or in operations against Israel, including suicide bombers.
The Saudi embassy in Washington said the term as used in fundraising drives did not refer to suicide bombers but to "Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence."
In a statement, it said any suggestion Saudis are giving money to suicide bombers is "baseless and false" and "an attempt to deflect from Israel's terror practices in the occupied territories."
Saudi assistance "includes financial assistance to the families of victims -- 'martyrs' -- distributed through the private humanitarian organization chaired by Interior Minister Prince Nayef," it said.
The fundraising comes at a time when Saudi-based charities have been under scrutiny after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, which were carried out by 19 hijackers, 15 of them Saudi.
In February, the kingdom blocked four bank accounts suspected of channelling funds to rebel organizations. Last month, it ordered all charity organizations to inform authorities of their overseas projects to ensure the money is not going to rebels.
Israel launched its incursion into Palestinian towns two weeks ago, vowing to crush militias after a string of deadly anti-Israeli attacks. The offensive has sparked a wave of street protests in the Arab world, including two in Saudi Arabia, where such demonstrations are illegal.
The telethon is a government attempt to channel away from the streets the intense rage Saudis feel over Israel's incursion.
The ruling Al Saud family inaugurated the fundraiser on Monday, with King Fahd donating US$2.7-million, Crown Prince Abdullah giving US$1.35-million and Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister, donating US$800,000.
The King also urged Saudis, expatriates and private companies to contribute generously.
The telethon began yesterday at 4 p.m., and aired footage of Israelis shelling Palestinian camps and demolishing buildings, plus images of wounded Palestinians receiving treatment and of grieving Palestinian families.
Most Saudis donated money, but a princess gave her Rolls-Royce and a woman handed over her US$17,567 dowry. A TV presenter showed a thick wad of US$10,000 in notes someone had sent. One man donated bags of rice and sugar. Another said he would give one of his kidneys for any Palestinian who needs it.
Prince Nayef's fund recently made an emergency donation of nearly US$1-million to the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, giving US$5,333 to each of 155 families. It has donated more than US$59-million to Palestinian families and aid organizations since the Israeli-Palestinian violence began more than 18 months ago.
The fund has said it would continue to provide direct assistance to the families of "Palestinian martyrs and those wounded while resisting the occupation."
Supporting Israel or not supporting it is becoming as difficult as being strongly pro abortion or strongly pro life. All of these things are making the whole commitment more and more difficult.
Who's commitment to what (or whom)?
Dubya seems to be chiefly committed to winning a second term. If your commitment to Dubya is wavering, join the crowd.
I'll bet the French are contacting Monsieur Lewis to do their own telethon to benefit all the synogogues and French jews being attacked....
Yeah, and I've also got a date with Charlize Theron tonight...
W's to Israel. I like W in comparison to the job I imagine Albert Arnold Algore Jr would be doing right now, and that's a lot. It's so easy to take the safe road and just dislike everyone isn't it. yb
If all it takes to put your guy above reproach is a favorable contrast to Algore, you'd better check your pulse. When your President puts his hopes of a second term above his alleged convictions, you go right ahead and turn a blind eye to it, if it makes you feel good. yff
I submit to superior pissmanship. yhmf