Instagram bursts with mockery of Syrian first lady’s ‘Mother's Day’ congratulations

An unrepentant Asma Al-Assad welcomes a group of mothers. (Photo courtesy:
Updated 23 March 2017

Instagram bursts with mockery of Syrian first lady’s ‘Mother's Day’ congratulations

DUBAI: Social media users made fun of Syrian First Lady Asma Al-Assad being named as the “Mother of the Nation.”
In comments replete with derision and taunts, they said it was galling on her part to be called the “Mother of the Nation” after having overseen the murder of nearly 400,000 of her compatriots since the 2011 revolution.
Almost 5 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the war and a further 6.3 million remain as internally displaced persons, according to UNHCR data.
The Syrian president wife was named “Mother of the Nation” in a flurry of pictures and video clips released on the occasion of Mother’s Day in the Middle East.
To mark the occasion, which is celebrated on March 21 in the Arab world, Asma Al-Assad welcomed a group of mothers whose sons had died in the fighting in Aleppo.
The Instagram and Facebook accounts of the Syrian presidency posted images of the meeting, showing Asma Al-Assad hugging and laughing with a group of women.
The images and video were titled “Mother of the Nation,” in reference to the first lady. Instagram users went ballistic against her. “She has no shame,” said one Instagram user. “She and her husband have reduced the country into one big graveyard.” 
In a video posted to the Facebook page, Asma Al-Assad told the mothers: “You, Aleppo mothers, made Aleppo stronger. You have been the compass we all followed and went through toward victory. You decided you would win and you did through your sons, your homes, your endurance and your support to your army. You won and Aleppo won along with you.”
She further said: “Every mother that insisted on staying at her home despite the bombs of terrorism is a weapon in the hand of a soldier, and every mother who sent her children to school despite the fear and danger is a bullet in the rifle of every soldier.
The plight of civilians in Aleppo caused global outrage as Syrian troops moved from neighborhood to neighborhood and civilians posted social media videos bidding farewell to their followers.
“We appear to be witnessing nothing less than ... a total uncompromising military victory,” former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the time, according to Reuters.

Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

Updated 4 min 57 sec ago

Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves

  • The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza

JERUSALEM: A new HBO series on the killing of a Palestinian youth after three Israeli teens were murdered in a deadly summer five years ago is stirring up painful memories for bereaved families on both sides of the conflict.

“Our Boys,” which premiered in Israel and the US last week, centers on Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was abducted near his East Jerusalem home and burned to death by three Israelis, two of them also teenagers, in July 2014.

“I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,” Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking, soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of HBO and Israel’s Keshet International and produced by Movie Plus.

“The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was kidnapped,” she said.

Prosecutors said Abu Khdeir’s convicted killers were avenging the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens — Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’er and Eyal Yifrach — in the occupied West Bank two weeks earlier by members of Hamas.

The deaths of the four youths spiraled into a seven-week war between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

HBO’s 10-episode dramatization dissects Israel’s internal investigation into the three ultra-Orthodox Jews eventually convicted of Abu Khdeir’s murder and the frantic initial days after his parents learned of his disappearance and death.

The Hebrew- and Arabic-language series was written, directed and produced by two Jewish Israelis and an Arab Israeli, who mix documentary footage with live production to delve into the micro details they say drive the conflict.

“We live in an extremely nuanced world where wars erupt because of tiny things,” co-director Joseph Cedar, 50, said in an interview alongside collaborators Hagai Levi and Tawfik Abu Wael. “We tried to peel back the layers of this hate crime,” he said.

But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.

Two Hamas suspects in the murders were killed in a 2014 shootout and in 2015 an Israeli court sentenced a third Hamas member to three life terms for the teens’ abduction and murder.

Levi said the creators felt they had portrayed the context of Abu Khdeir’s killing. “But the crime is the story,” he said.