Browsing 'palestine' News

Woman Woman/Facebook

Wonder Woman

The popular blockbuster superhero film Wonder Woman has been banned in Qatar, according to local cinema companies.

The movie received critical acclaim at the box office following its recent release. But it has also drawn controversy because it is headlined by an Israeli woman.

Earlier this month, Lebanon and Tunisia banned the movie. However, it is currently playing in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain (though the Gulf dispute may make it harder for fans to travel to see the film).

Wonder Woman was initially scheduled to premiere in Doha yesterday.

But it is no longer appearing on any Qatar cinema websites, including at theaters in Villaggio, City Center or Lagoona malls.

When asked whether it was banned, Vox answered affirmatively on Twitter:

Novo Cinemas has also confirmed to movie-goers that the film will not be screened in Qatar.

Support for Israeli army

The movie’s superhero is played by Gal Gadot. Her compulsory Israeli army service coincided with the 2006 Israeli war in Lebanon.

Gadot also expressed support for the IDF during the 2014 Gaza conflict. 

On Facebook, she sent her “love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!!”

Jan Slangen/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Gadot’s support of Israel has caused many people around the world to wrestle with whether to support the film.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, one US-based professor said he himself wondered what all the fuss was about until he actually saw the movie.

After watching it, he concluded:

“If you are utterly enjoying this particular Wonder Woman as a role model for your daughters in a theater near you and could not care less about a young Palestinian girl mourning her family in Gaza whom the woman portraying your superhero helped kill, then all the power to you.

You need not bother to know that in this film Gal Gadot does not just personify Wonder Woman, but alas Wonder Woman disappears into Gal Gadot.”

Banned movies

This is the third movie Qatar has banned in the past year and a half. In October, authorities told cinemas not to run psychological thriller The Girl on the Train.

Trailers for the film show sex scenes, and the story revolves around the main character’s drinking problem.

Universal Pictures

The Girl on the Train

And in January 2016, The Danish Girl was withdrawn from cinema listings after residents complained on social media about its “moral depravity.”

The British film portrayed the life of a transgender Danish artist in the 1920s who undergoes one of the world’s first known sex reassignment surgeries.


Some of the SIDRA medical team carrying out an operation in Palestine


Some of the Sidra medical team carrying out an operation in Palestine in 2014.

Unable to remain on the sidelines as the humanitarian crisis in Palestine worsens, a medical team from Qatar has been traveling to the West Bank to treat patients.

There, they have extended their services to hundreds of people in need of urgent care. Many had been unable to receive the proper treatment due to severe shortages of both medical equipment and specialists.

Additionally, some have been unable to travel for care due to strict Israeli military blockades.

Photo of Nablus for illustrative purposes only.

Andrea Moroni/Flickr

Photo of Nablus for illustrative purposes only.

The Qatar doctors, nurses and medics all work for Sidra Medical and Research Center, and recently sat down with Doha News to share the details of a particularly fraught trip.

Nablus mission

In September 2015, the team went to work at the Rafidia Surgical Hospital in Nablus.

The city, which is about 50km north of Jerusalem, is home to three refugee camps.

It has been struggling in recent years with high unemployment, an inadequate water supply and crumbling schools and hospitals, according to rights groups.

So when the Sidra team arrived, patients were desperate for their help, they recalled. Dr. Jason Howard, Sidra’s Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, said:

“The police had to come in and take control, not because the people were unruly, but because they were so desperate to receive help and care, especially (those who traveled) from far other cities like Gaza, just to get treated.”

Lacking staff

During this mission, the team carried out several complex surgeries pro bono, and also helped to train the clinic’s permanent medical staff in those procedures.

Howard told Doha News that there were only two consultants working in the hospital, and only one pediatric orthopedic surgeon available in the entire territory.

Sidra mission in Palestine


Sidra mission in Palestine

He recalled back in 2014 finding an anesthesiologist only at the very last minute. “It really was the barakah (blessing) factor as they say,” he said.

The mission was organized and funded by a US-based NGO, but the team used their own annual leave to carry out the work.

‘It’s the only way I can help’

While Howard has been making annual trips to Nablus and Ramallah since 2014, this was Tracy Glenn’s second visit to the territory.

The Clinical Nurse Leader cried as she recounted her week-long experience at the hospital, saying that for many patients, treatment was a matter of life and death.

“When you think about how much money this would normally cost them (to have the surgery), and how desperately they need it, and how they’re thankful that we’re just there,” she said.

Another Sidra employee, Chief of Fetal Surgery Dr. Abdalla Zarroug, began volunteering in Palestine back in 2008.

Dr. Abdalla Zarroug of the Sidra team and a team of doctors in Gaza last month.


Dr. Abdalla Zarroug of the Sidra team and a team of doctors in Gaza last month.

“It was at that time that the Gaza War had begun, and I was chitchatting with a (doctor) friend of mine about how bad things are happening in this world, and that someone should do something about it,” he recalled.

He added:

“I’m not a politician to interfere, or a businessman able to donate money and rebuild. I’m only a physician and it’s the only way I can help.”

Hundreds of surgeries

The Sidra’s team’s operations included laparoscopic (keyhole) and spinal surgeries.

An “allied health team” that includes Occupational Therapist Scott Burns helped patients with their post-operative recovery, pain management and daily activities.

Sidra mission in Palestine


Sidra mission in Palestine

Their duties included assisting with rehabilitation, helping patients use the toilet, dressing wounds, feeding and stretching.

Without this kind of care, recovery can be extremely traumatizing for the patients, Burns told Doha News.

Equipment shortages

Howard said that as well as lacking well-trained staff, the hospital also did not have the money to buy the equipment needed for surgery.

He told Doha News that spinal implants usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are unavailable across most of Palestine.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Although his team traveled with all of the equipment they needed, the experience made him grateful to never have to worry about working without the basic tools of his trade:

“It is unfortunate how sometimes as doctors, we take for granted the little things that are not there – the medical plates, screws, pins, and spinal implants,” he said.


The team’s trip was organized by the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a 25-year-old non-partisan organization that sends teams of volunteer surgeons and physicians on missions to the territory.

The NGO also send missions to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Before sending a team of volunteers to an area, the organization first identifies patients who are in critical need of medical support.

Photo of hospital patient for illustrative purposes only.

Culturactiva SCG/Flickr

Photo of hospital patient for illustrative purposes only.

If there is a specific procedure required, PCRF will contact doctors who could fulfill a specific purpose.

When these individuals have confirmed, the charity starts arranging for permissions from the Ministry of Health in Palestine.

Once this is finalized, arrangements for the visas, hotel accommodation, plane tickets and transportation are then carried out.

Getting there

Getting to Nablus is a difficult process, even for an international team working with a US NGO.

Most commonly, doctors will fly into Jordan and cross the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge to Tel Aviv.

Because Israel controls the borders, doctors can’t get to Palestinian territories without that government’s approval.

Allenby/King Hussein Bridge

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Allenby/King Hussein Bridge

The Sidra team travelled to Nablus separately. Glenn, who is Canadian, flew on her own to the city of Amman.

She then took a taxi to reach Nablus, after being detained at the King Hussein bridge for over four hours.

Despite the trouble, Howard said Western doctors have a much easier time passing through the border.

“As a Canadian, I can breeze my way through check points, but it is much more difficult for doctors who come from the Middle East for example, and of course (for) the patients who travel long hours just to see us,” he said.

Training role

The Sidra team’s visit was not just about performing surgeries.

The mission also entailed teaching Palestinian doctors how to perform new operations independently, once the volunteer team had gone home.

“Palestine is the biggest jail in the world; the doctors there cannot go to conferences, cannot meet other surgeons or travel, and can only resort to Youtube to know how to do the surgeries,” Zarroug said.

And after leaving the territory, PCRF doctors regularly keep in touch with staff on the ground to follow up on patients.

Sidra doctors in Palestine


Sidra doctors in Palestine

They often view pictures of the patients’ wounds and receive updates on their recovery and well-being.

The feedback usually received from the patients and medical team in Palestine often reflects how thrilled they are with the results.

“It is all worth it when we see how happy they are,” Sidra Neurodiagnostic Manager Dr. Tara Stewart told Doha News.

Lasting impressions

For many on the Sidra team, the most memorable part of their trip involved the hospitality and generosity of the Palestinian people.

According to Burns, taxi drivers, kunafa makers and others refused to charge him and his colleagues for their services, as a token of appreciation for the work they did at the hospital.

Zarroug meanwhile paid tribute to Palestinians’ “unique dignity:”

“Palestinians have a true, unique dignity you can’t find anywhere in the world, and you’d be surprised to see how they went through war, and are still happy, hard working people who do not beg.”

Zarroug and Howard volunteer in the country on average twice a year, and their next trip is scheduled in January 2017.

“They feel like Arabs have forgotten about them, but they tell us that (us doctors) haven’t, and it’s what keeps them connected to the world,” Zarroug added.


International School of Choueifat Doha

ICS Doha/Sabis

International School of Choueifat Doha

Updated with a statement from the school

A private school in Doha has withdrawn a textbook after parents complained it said Palestinians are practicing terrorism in the Middle East.

The International School of Choueifat (ISC) in Onaiza removed all copies of the book on Sunday (Oct 2) and reimbursed students for its cost, it said in a statement.

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education visited the school yesterday, and issued a statement on Twitter.

The ministry responded after photographs of a page from the unnamed English-language book were posted on Twitter.

The school confirmed to Doha News that the book was a Grade 9 history text titled Technology, War and Independence, by Oxford University Press.

Translation: We demand careful revision of all the books at Choueifat after finding this paragraph describing Palestinians as terrorists of the Middle East.


One page of the book defines terrorism and gives several examples of it, including the hijacking of several planes in 1970 by Palestinians.

It also described Palestinians as being “well known” for suicide bombings.

A paragraph under the page’s headline “what is terrorism?” states:

“Palestinian terrorists took over several airlines in 1970, including two American, one Swiss and one British. They targeted American planes because they felt the USA always helped out Israel, a country that occupies land that the Palestinians claim is their own. They wanted their own country – Palestine – and wanted land that Israel occupies. Terrorist acts continue to this day in the Middle East.”

The text is superimposed over a photograph of a burning plane.

There is also a section describing different methods of terrorism called “How do terrorists attack?”

It details techniques that have been used by a number of organizations, including the IRA, an Irish nationalist group.

Describing suicide bombs, the book stated:

“Explosives are attached to the bomber’s body. They approach their target and explode the bomb. Palestinian terrorists are well-known for this.”

Ministry response

In a series of tweets published yesterday afternoon, Qatar’s education ministry said it sent a team to the school to investigate after hearing complaints on social media.

For illustrative purposes only

ICS Doha/Sabis

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The ministry said the book’s content was found to be contrary to Qatar’s foreign policy.

The school said it had already removed the book and reimbursed the students for the cost of the text.

It was warned that any books must have prior approval from the authorities, the ministry added.

Qatar does not currently have diplomatic relations with Israel and has publicly called for the end of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, which includes Jerusalem.

Translation: In response to what was shared on social media regarding the Choueifat School teaching a textbook that contains violations, a team from the specialized department was dispatched to the school.

Translation: After the book was indeed found to carry content that conflicted with Qatar’s foreign policy, the school was issued a firm warning, copies of the book were withdrawn from the school and students were refunded fees paid for this book. The school was also instructed that it’s imperative that the ministry’s approval be obtained before any book could be taught.

In a statement to Doha News, the school described the book as an “oversight” and said it was withdrawn from the school last week “immediately upon identification of certain inappropriate content.”

Joseph Salameh, director of International School of Chouiefat – Doha continued:

“This was reported to the Ministry of Education representative who visited our school yesterday (Oct. 3) to inquire about this incident.

This oversight slipped through the net, in spite of our rigorous system of screening new books. Sabis will be scrutinizing its screening system in order to avoid such mistakes in the future.”

ISC-Doha is operated by the international education organization Sabis and there are more than 20 Chouiefat schools in countries throughout the Middle East and Africa, according to its website.

Sabis has its own series of around 1,800 educational books that are used in all year groups from kindergarten through high school and at all its schools, as a key part of its curriculum.


Other incidents

The withdrawal of the book in Qatar follows a similar incident this month at the Choueifat School in Bahrain, the country’s Al Watan newspaper reported.

Bahrain’s Ministry of Education also ordered the withdrawal of the same textbook, which the newspaper said was being used by Year 9 social studies pupils.

After the content was reportedly found to be contrary to the public policy of the state, the school was warned not to repeat the offense.

Some Qatar residents responded to the Doha incident on Twitter, and called for the Ministry of Education to be more vigilant over private schools in the country.

Translation: This (schools obtaining approval from the ministry before teaching certain books) should have been done before the start of the school year. Schools should have been directed and all curricula supervised beforehand. We discover a new problem with a school almost everyday now. It shouldn’t be like this.

Translation: Ok Ministry of Education, this is your reactionary policy, we know it full well by now. How about taking initiative before a problem actually happens? Do you have such a policy?

This is the second time in a week that a private school in Qatar has gotten into trouble over the Israel-Palestine issue.

Late last month, British school Doha College apologized to its community after the Israeli flag was included in bunting showing the world’s flags that had been put up on campus.

Following parent complaints, the Ministry of Education tweeted publicly about the incident. The school said it had removed the bunting immediately and apologized for the “error of judgment.”

Separately, cultural misunderstandings earlier this year landed a different school in hot water.

SEK library's copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Hassan Alsai/Twitter

SEK library\’s copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

In January, the English-language SEK International School in Dafna was told to remove a copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from its library. A parent had complained that the illustrations in it were indecent.

At the time, the principal apologized for causing offense and said measures had been put in place to ensure such incidents wouldn’t happen again.