////////////////////cutted and pasted from internat edition of jerusalem post///////
Mar. 26, 2003
Palestinians name babies after Saddam
By MATTHEW GUTMAN AND KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Many Palestinian couples in Nablus, the largest city on the West Bank, have begun naming their newborn babies after Saddam Hussein.
According to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, the favorite name for Palestinian families in the city these days is Saddam. The paper said male infants born in local hospitals in the last few days have been named Saddam in honor of the Iraqi president.
"Many Palestinians are proud of this name," the paper's correspondent, Ala Badarneh, reports from Nablus. "Many families are also keen on keeping posters of Saddam Hussein in their homes. Usually you would find pictures of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat together at previous meetings between the two. Many people are buying these pictures in the market and keeping them at home."
The correspondent describes the state of euphoria in Nablus each time people hear about a US helicopter that has been downed or American soldiers killed or captured by the Iraqis.
"Drivers start honking their horns, passersby start chanting and others fire shots into the air," he says.
An Egyptian song praising Saddam and Iraq has become the latest hit in the West Bank.
The song, by Sha'ban Abdel Rahim, is played on the streets and in markets in many places in the West Bank. The paper also notes that press conferences by the Iraqi information minister usually send people rushing home to sit in front of their television screens.
In Bethlehem's Dehaishe refugee camp, meanwhile, residents have decided to rename one of their streets "Baghdad Street" in solidarity with their beleaguered sponsor to the east.
They were also so enamored with France's anti-war stance that they named another street after the French capital. While "Paris Street" and "Baghdad Street" are side streets off the ancient Hebron Road, the war in Iraq is central in their minds.
Factionalism has often torn the residents here, but like the entire Arab world, Dehaishe's refugees are united in their opposition of the American campaign. It smacks of "fascist globalization," says Muhammad Laham, Fatah's representative in the camp. It was the people themselves who demanded that one of the camp's street names be changed, he told The Jerusalem Post.
"As an occupied people who are glued to the television watching news from Iraq we fully identify with our Iraqi brothers suffering from American aggression and occupation."
The "campaign of aggression," as it is known in Dehaishe, is likely only to destabilize the Arab world and could even unleash World War III, warns Laham, referring to Samuel P. Huntington's essay "the Clash of Civilizations."
The Arab street is boiling over, uniting the Arab world's nationalism in a way unseen since the days of Egypt's Abdel Gamal Nasser in the 1950s, asserted Laham. In this war, he noted, as opposed to the 1991 US-led coalition, there are no Arab states actively aiding the Americans.
But there could be more to this chest-pounding allegiance. Dehaishe boasts about 30 "martyrs," who were either killed by the IDF or committed terrorist attacks. Half of their families have received lump sums of up to $15,000 for the death of their child.
Sitting in a room plastered with professionally printed images of her son in various stages of life and death, Sama Abeid said she received $10,000 from the Iraqi government when her son was killed while throwing rocks at IDF troops.
"The Palestinians know how to say thank you, for those who showed such solidarity with us through the difficult years," she said.
Yet asked whether she was willing to sacrifice one of her four remaining sons for Iraq, Abeid replied, "It is enough for us to support Iraq morally in these difficult times."
On Baghdad Street, Nur Amr hopes that somehow Saddam Hussein will win that is, survive. "If Saddam wins, the entire Middle East will look different. He will put the Palestinian issue on the political map."
Maybe it will loosen the grip of the "Israeli-Zionist lobby" on Washington, he speculates from his almost anonymous gift shop on Baghdad Street.
He said he respects Saddam, his people, and "anyone working to stop this American aggression against Iraq."
Asked if he had heard of Paris Street, Amr thought for a moment and shook his head. After a pause he offered: "I did not know that, but I can say that Belgium and France have made us proud."
"Iraq is no Afghanistan," concluded Laham, "Iraqis won't greet American forces with flowers, but with weapons in their hands... Baghdad is, after all, the navel of the Arab world. It won't go down easily."