- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia raised almost $57 million for Palestinians in a government-organized telethon that ended yesterday, half of the money coming from a prince whose donation for victims of the September 11 attacks was rejected last fall by New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal donated $27 million to the fund. An hour before the end of the 11-hour telethon, $56.7 million had been collected, the Arab News daily reported.
In October, Mr. Giuliani initially accepted a check for $10 million from Prince Alwaleed for a New York relief fund but later returned it when he learned about the prince's statement calling on the United States to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
In a statement yesterday, Prince Alwaleed said $13.5 million of his donation will go toward rebuilding Palestinian infrastructure destroyed by Israeli forces. The other half will be in the form of goods, including 100 sport utility vehicles and 2 million pieces of clothing.
Saudis from all walks of life called during the telethon to pledge contributions to the fund-raising campaign ordered by King Fahd, with donations ranging from a princess' Rolls Royce to children's pocket change.
The telethon, broadcast live, was an attempt by the government to show support for the Palestinians while channeling the intense rage among many Saudis over Israel's offensive in the West Bank away from illegal demonstrations.
The event's purpose was to help relatives of "martyrs," a word that 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 meant Palestinians "victimized by Israeli terror and violence." Any suggestion that Saudis were giving money to suicide bombers was "baseless and false."
Children also donated school bags and a few slingshots. One man gave money he had saved for dental treatment, another said he would give a kidney for a Palestinian who needs it, and a few unemployed Saudis offered to donate blood.
Committee spokesman Said Harithi said a convoy of 100 vehicles loaded with aid supplies for the Palestinians would soon be sent via Jordan.
Meanwhile, the Qatar-based Arab satellite TV channel Al Jazeera reported that Saudi security forces had cordoned off the area around the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran to prevent people from protesting after Friday prayers.
Last week, thousands of protesters rallied in the city, which is 230 miles northeast of the capital Riyadh, despite a ban on such demonstrations.
In the English-language Arab News yesterday, columnist Nourah Abdul Aziz El-Khereiji wrote that Arabs should do more than just donate money.
"Our people … demand a boycott of Israel and America," she said. "They want a jihad [holy war] in Palestine."
"You could supply arms to [Palestinians] and ignore arms being smuggled to them," she wrote. "In the end, a day will come when you will be convinced of the need for a physical jihad."
The telethon was part of a wave of Arab support for the Palestinians amid Israel's offensive.
In the United Arab Emirates, a fund-raising campaign organized by a state-owned media company raised more than $12.5 million within a few hours. Mobile phone messages were sent urging users to participate.
A telethon on Tuesday in Dubai, one of the seven emirates, raised more than $35 million, and more than $8.2 million was raised in the neighboring Persian Gulf state of Qatar on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide