New Internationalist

Peace calling

Issue 417

‘Hello! I am here, living in the Gaza Strip, in a miserable situation, and we need peace. We are a group [working to make] the US people elect Senator Obama. We think he is a man of peace, so please kindly support us by electing him.’

So goes the phone script. Thousands of Americans may have been a little surprised over the past few months to have received a call from one of 24 enthusiastic young Gazans who have decided to give Barack Obama a helping hand in his election campaign. The Media Line reports that the group has been meeting each night to phone random telephone numbers in the United States. Even though 19 out of every 20 calls end with the receiver hanging up on them, the volunteers say that they have completed up to 6,000 successful calls.

Thanks to internet technology, the cost of the calls is minimal. There is no fancy call-centre set up, just a room in a local youth centre, equipped with desks, chairs and computer sockets. The volunteers say that their work is ‘independent, without ties to any organization or government’, and they have never made official contact with the Obama campaign in the States. When asked about the Gaza phone team, a source at the Obama camp confirmed that ‘no such group has been authorized to solicit on our behalf’. But the Gaza volunteers are adamant that their work is worthwhile. Moatz Twael, one of the callers, insists: ‘Some people don’t believe in peace, but these are the same people who are preventing it. Obama is a good man to achieve that goal.’

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