Thursday, January 10, 2008


Mixed Message by SAM MUNSON (Contentions)

A Dutch nonprofit, send.a.message, is now offering a service whereby, for the low, low fee of 30 euros, a group of Palestinians will spraypaint whatever message you like (provided it’s not “obscene, offensive and extremist”) on their side of the security wall. Besides the generally exploitative nature of this project (the company’s website makes a point of how much economic damage the wall has done, which means, logically, that the Palestinian employees are bargaining for wages under constraint, right?) there’s a fair amount of, uh, paternalism involved. In their FAQ, the organization answers those worried about whether their haute bourgeois whimsy might put people in danger thusly:

Is it dangerous to spray on the Wall?

The ‘wallwriters’ in Palestine know the local circumstances well. Also realize: the situation on West Bank (within the Wall, where we work) is a lot more stable than in far away Gaza. However, ‘our’ Palestinians will never risk their lives to get your text on the Wall. Be sure of that.

“Our” Palestinians. You have to love the quotes around the word our. That’s right, Europe: now you can wash away three centuries of imperialism with irony-quotes! Sweet. Also, how ominous does this sound:

Where does the money go?

Part of your money stays in Holland, to cover the (minimal) costs of setting up and running ‘Sendamessage’. The bulk of the money will go to the Palestinian NGO’s (independent foundations) doing the work. They will fund small social, cultural and educational projects with the money earned (from buying bicycles to fixing the roof).

Will they buy weapons?

No, we work with organisations that are legal in Palestine and are allowed to work-also by the Israeli government. People we work with were found thanks to the network of ICCO, a large Dutch Christian NGO. The money overthere will be spent on small social, cultural and educational projects.

That fills me with confidence. Especially since

An independent board oversees and checks the activities of this registered charity Foundation, from Amsterdam, Holland. All financial matters are checked by an independent, registered financial controller.

Valentine’s day is about a month away. Place your orders now and get “our” Palestinians crackin’!

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