Here’s Why a Ramadan Commercial About Palestine Was So Controversial It Was Banned in Some Countries

Zain is a Kuwaiti mobile telecommunications company that released a commercial wishing its users a blessed Ramadan last month, receiving worldwide attention. The commercial shines light on the matter of Palestine and the continued occupation its people face, even during the month of Ramadan.

It is not a shock that Kuwait released a commercial showing the terrible state of Occupied Palestine, calling for the aid of Palestinians. Kuwait is a small country that has big influences on the helping of the Palestinian people.

This is not the only effort Kuwait has put in with Palestine; the nation has held many campaigns to support Palestinians financially, especially in the war-struck Gaza Strip.

Recently, a Kuwaiti representative in the United Nations bashed Israel, and told the Israeli  representative that he does not deserve to be in the room because what Israel does to Palestinians is inhumane.  Kuwait also proposed a resolution that calls for the “international protection of Palestinians.”  The United States vetoed the resolution.

[/media-credit] MP Abdullah Fuhad Al-Enezi holding up the ‘kaffiyeh’ in support of the
Palestinian cause.

The commercial focuses on a young Arab boy، who we assume is Palestinian. He sings an emotional ballad about the struggles which he and his people face every day because of where they live and because they follow Islam (tying in religion).

The video focuses on poverty and tough living conditions, while showcasing the issue of Israel jailing young children.

Titled “الرئيس سيدي” (“Mr. President”), the young boy takes on controversial presidents of the world, like Marcon, Merkel, Putin, Kim Jung-Un and even Trudeau.

But the main focus is on Trump while they go on the road showing how refugees and Palestinians live.

The video focuses on poverty and tough living conditions, while showcasing the issue of Israel jailing young children.

In one segment we see a girl that looks like a younger version of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian who was held captive by the Israeli government for hitting a soldier who shot her cousin in the face. In the end, Arab leaders from the Gulf visit Jerusalem with the boy and the girl, and the boy tells Trump that Palestinians shall have iftar in Palestine’s true capital. This is significant since Israel has moved its embassy to Jerusalem this last month.

[/media-credit] Young Arab boy wishing Trump a happy Ramadan

The commercial brings up two points to consider: First, many praised the commercial because it called many world leaders to pay attention to Palestine. In fact, Zain has been praised for being bold and unconventionally bringing politics into marketing.  People everywhere are recognizing that no one should silence whoever calls for the aid of Palestinians and refugees.  Second, the situation in Palestine is becoming deadlier by the day. Even Queen Rania of Jordan acknowledged and praised the commercial, which indicates that people aren’t shying away from stating the obvious – there needs to be an end to the occupation and oppression of Palestine.

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The opposing argument is that the child crying in the commercial is exploiting Palestinians’ pain for moneymaking, since the video, at the end of the day, is a commercial.

Another question at hand is: is Zain using their platform by exploiting the Palestinian cause in order to profit?

One aspect to consider is that they are already an extremely wealthy company. Thus, it’s entirely  possible that the message really and truly is to inform and educate about a cause they feel needs to be told – and that using their platform is the best way to get the message out to the world.

While many question Zain’s motives, no one can argue that the ethos was definitely present.

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Ultimately, an Arab network, The Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC), banned the commercial because of the political stance in the message. The network did not release an official statement explaining why they banned the commercial, but Ibrahim Gamaleldin, a content producer who worked for MBC, highlighted that theadvertisement IS indeed problematic.

Kuwait stands its ground and is still airing the commercial on Kuwaiti channels, regardless of Kuwait’s military and political ties to America. Some argue and question Kuwait’s true intentions. However, it appears the majority seem to applaud the country’s brave stance on showing the commercial despite the potential backlash they could receive from other Arab leaders in the region.

What can we do more to help the people of Palestine?

Does the way we disperse the message of Palestine matter? Whether in a post on your social media newsfeed, participating in a demonstration, or delivering a message in a commercial, if we get the message out, we are doing a service to the people of Palestine.

However you view the commercial, or whatever you think the intentions are behind it, there is no doubt that the beauty in telling the story is received – and it leaves the viewer questioning, “What can we do more to help the people of Palestine?”