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‘Walls divide and segregate’ — New Marine video might apply to Israel

Middle East
on 42 Comments

Below is a new recruitment video from the U.S. Marine Corps called “Wall”, published on the Marines’ official YouTube around 3 weeks ago on March 17 and appearing regularly on CBS and TBS during the NCAA basketball tournament.

Walls are barriers. They divide, separate, and segregate. We’ve seen walls before, and they’ve always fallen.

Hmmm. I find it auspicious. The Marines probably are not referencing the Great Wall of China. And Berlin’s fell in ’89. Indeed, there’s only a couple of walls I can think of that have garnered international attention lately, and it’s reasonable to assume this video is not talking about the one we’re building between ourselves and Mexico nor the miles and miles of Bremer walls we built all over Iraq and Afghanistan (which have gotten very little press here in the U.S.).

So with that in mind, check out the video:

Does it have a biblical reference? Or is this a veiled threat to Israel?

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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42 Responses

  1. DaBakr
    April 5, 2015, 1:49 pm

    I agree. Its certainly up to an individuals interpretation what this commercial spot is about. Walls? Yes. But its a curious spot. Appealing to future marines on at least 2 levels maybe even 3. A) serving the US and b)blowing stuff up. I can’t deny that those who are focused on Israel would naturally think of the security barrier though I don’t see why the US/Mexican wall wouldn’t be what a Mexican/Hispanic living in the US with a family in Mexico/CA/SA would be thinking about.
    Still, all in all, its an odd spot and maybe the person who created it was thinking of Israel. Who knows.

    *walls in Belfast , Saudi A., Korea as well.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 5, 2015, 2:02 pm

      the opening image w/the wheelchair and the carpet indicate it’s in the middle east. i just found it surprising, along with the voice “they’ve always fallen”.

      • just
        April 5, 2015, 6:47 pm

        It’s had me wondering.

        Thanks, Annie. I can only hope…

      • DaBakr
        April 5, 2015, 11:13 pm

        Yup. Not saying your wrong. Just being familiar with the usual pr coming out of the USAS it’s just a bit odd. I also thought a bit ‘subliminal’ though I can’t say I really believe that subliminal advertising works as claimed.

        Unless the creator of the spot speaks I think it will have to remain open to interpretation.

        And fyi…I believe that eventually the security barrier will be disassembled by the IDF for the most part willingly although I don’t see this anytime soon. And I think it’s important to point out that while the concrete walls in parts of the wb are most definitely barriers, ugly, divisive,etc, they only make up a small portion of the barrier which is mostly fences(& electronic devices, mines and horrible stuff) the only point being they are less visually obtrusive which I’m sure it’s little comfort to those affected.

    • amigo
      April 5, 2015, 3:13 pm

      ” I can’t deny that those who are focused on Israel would naturally think of the security barrier ” dabaker.

      Would that the security barrier that is only partly built and much of the portion that is built is on occupied Palestinian territory.

      Only zionists would steal land from someone else and then demand security from their victims.

      • DaBakr
        April 5, 2015, 11:23 pm

        While I’m sure you have some half baked statistics that day otherwise the barrier accomplished it’s primary goal. Maybe that goal is no longer relevant and maybe the barrier can be penetrated at will by Palestinian armed forces but I did say that I think the barrier will be taken down eventually and willingly with a lot of yelling and fighting from Israelis who will have to be prepared for living next to neighbours that will have to be equally prepared to abide by whatever the final ‘end-of-the-conflict’ negotiated border becomes. If it is apparent that a group like(or worse) then the Hamas will take up positions then I don’t the walls coming down even if katushas fly over them

      • Annie Robbins
        April 6, 2015, 11:55 am

        the primary goal of the barrier is to facilitate land theft. don’t confuse claims with reality.

      • DaBakr
        April 6, 2015, 3:50 pm

        you have your own reality, not mine, which I am well aware of and which can’t be altered by somebody in west coast US with certain and specific opinions

      • Annie Robbins
        April 6, 2015, 3:57 pm

        ok, create whatever reality you want for yourself, the facts speak for themselves. this reminds me of rgwingers claims that our invasion of iraq prevented another 9/11. follow the money for the primary goal, don’t listen to, trust, or mimic the claims of thieves and liars.

      • RoHa
        April 6, 2015, 7:14 pm

        “you have your own reality, not mine, ”

        What do you mean? Reality is what is, and it is the same, single reality regardless of who you are. Individual people cannot have separate or different realities.

      • DaBakr
        April 6, 2015, 7:44 pm

        i really think I know when incursions by militants, fighters and homicide minded bombers stopped penetrating the boundary. but thanks for the suggestion

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2015, 9:20 pm

        “i really think I know when incursions by militants, fighters and homicide minded bombers stopped penetrating the boundary.”

        Oh, I get it, you do think that walls are indeed an effective and permanent way to divide people. And won’t be breached. All along the watchtower, DaBakr keeps the view.

      • eljay
        April 8, 2015, 10:51 am

        || Mooser: … All along the watchtower, DaBakr keeps the view. ||

        He’s more of a joker and/or a thief than a prince.

      • RoHa
        April 8, 2015, 7:18 pm

        Still no way out? No relief?

  2. Eva Smagacz
    April 5, 2015, 4:00 pm

    The sound of goat decidedly makes it Middle East.

    For me the crux of the image is the desolate area in the compound (?) ghetto (?) and green and pleasant land on the other side? Water apartheid, anyone?

    • JLewisDickerson
      April 5, 2015, 5:15 pm

      It definitely looks like some of the family compounds in some parts of Afghanistan!

      • Society and Norms – Housing: Traditional and Modern
      University of West Florida
      Traditional Afghan homes are very private by American standards. … Walled compounds enhance family privacy as well as security. The walled nature of the …

      [EXCERPT] . . . In rural areas of Afghanistan, life is centered on the Qalla [KHA-lah], a walled compound where the extended family – parents, wife (or wives), young children, grown sons, their families and unmarried female relatives will all live together in the compound. These houses are largely of mud brick and frequently grouped together. Walled compounds enhance family privacy as well as security. The walled nature of the compound is, again, tied to protecting women and family honor. . .

      • Afghanistan Way of Life | Afghanistan’s Web Site
      In the villages each family generally occupies either one mud-brick house or a walled compound containing mud-brick or stonewalled houses. The same pattern …

      • Compounds – Michael Yon
      Oct 1, 2008 – From the sky: Typical Afghan compound. … being fought not in the cities, but the villages and small family compounds where most Afghanis live.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 5, 2015, 5:30 pm

        P.S. RE: “The walled nature of the compound is, again, tied to protecting women and family honor. . . “ ~ from Society and Norms – Housing: Traditional and Modern (above)

        IN OTHER WORDS: The U.S. opposes the protection of women and family honor in Afghanistan! That’s why our Marines breech their family compounds.
        Surely that will endear us to the hearts of the Afghans!
        Behold “The Ugly American”!

      • Mooser
        April 5, 2015, 6:19 pm

        John, in the book of the same name, “Ugly American” is the hero of the book (insofar that it has one.) The “ugly American” and his concern for the people in an unnamed SE Asian country is contrasted with the cavalier and corrupt behavior of the “pretty Americans”.
        But it got switched around.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 5, 2015, 7:10 pm

        RE: “Ugly American” is the hero of the book (insofar that it has one.) The “ugly American” and his concern for the people in an unnamed SE Asian country is contrasted with the cavalier and corrupt behavior of the “pretty Americans”. ~ Mooser

        MY REPLY: Thanks. I vaguely remember that now.
        Nonetheless, we Americans often are a very ugly people (despite all the nips and tucks) because, like most narcissistic “pretty people”, we really only care about ourselves!

      • RoHa
        April 5, 2015, 7:22 pm

        Breach, JLD.

        Unless you are hinting that the marines are dropping their breeches to moon the women.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 6, 2015, 12:21 am

        RE: “Breach, JLD.” ~ RoHa

        MY COMMENT: Thanks! It is like ‘breach of contract’ or ‘security breach’, not like ‘breech birth’. I should have known that.

  3. Eva Smagacz
    April 5, 2015, 4:02 pm

    On the other hand, it has a quality of video game, so it may be reference to game i’m not familiar with. If it will be removed quickly, after a howl of protests, we will know it had dissident undercurrent

    • DaBakr
      April 5, 2015, 11:30 pm

      I think whoever proposed the ‘video game’ angle might be closest to what the creator had in mind. Though, as stated, it’s possible the creator slipped a little of their political ideology in there,(it’s not like there aren’t many Palestinian Americans or supporters working on the industry) but not enough to cause much of a stir. More of a question mark of anything.
      And not, imo, anything out of line or threatening to Israel. If a bunch of pro Israeli yahoos go crazy over this I would call them fools easily.

  4. JLewisDickerson
    April 5, 2015, 4:50 pm

    RE: “Walls are barriers. They divide, separate, and segregate. We’ve seen walls before, and they’ve always fallen.” ~ Marines’ recruitment ad

    MY QUESTION: Might that ad be a wee bit beyond the pale? Enquiring minds mimes want to know!™


    [EXCERPT] . . . This ‘pale’ is the noun meaning ‘a stake or pointed piece of wood’. That meaning is virtually obsolete now except as used in this phrase, but is still in use in the associated words ‘paling’ (as in paling fence) and ‘impale’ (as in Dracula movies).
    The paling fence is significant as the term pale became to mean the area enclosed by such a fence and later just the figurative meaning of ‘the area that is enclosed and safe’. So, to be ‘beyond the pale’ was to be outside the area accepted as ‘home’.
    Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement in Russia in 1791. This was the name given to the western border region of the country, in which Jews were allowed to live. The motivation behind this was to restrict trade between Jews and native Russians. Some Jews were allowed to live, as a concession, ‘beyond the pale’.
    Pales were enforced in various other European countries for similar political reasons, notably in Ireland (the Pale of Dublin) and France (the Pale of Calais, which was formed as early as 1360). . .

    SOURCE –

    JPEG IMAGE OF A PALE / PALING FENCE (a screen capture from the film Arn: The Knight Templar, 2007)

    • JLewisDickerson
      April 5, 2015, 5:04 pm

      P.S. ALSO RE: “Walls are barriers. They divide, separate, and segregate. We’ve seen walls before, and they’ve always fallen.” ~ Marines’ recruitment ad

      ANOTHER QUESTION: Might that ad also be more than a wee bit hypocritical?

      SEE: “Contractor for Israel’s apartheid wall wins US border contract”,
      by Jimmy Johnson,, 03/01/2014

      [EXCERPT] One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border.

      This is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.

      Elbit was a Boeing subcontractor when that firm won a 2006 DHS contract for SBInet as part of the George W. Bush administration’s Strategic Border Initiative.

      SBInet was to provide surveillance and communications technology to increase the US presence on the Mexico-US border. Elbit was subcontracted by Boeing through Kollsman, one of Elbit’s US-based subsidiaries, to provide the project’s camera and radar systems.

      Work on the contract halted in 2008 and DHS officially canceled SBInet in January, 2011.

      Dividing indigenous land

      The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.

      Both the US and Israeli projects affirm settler-state partitions of indigenous land: Palestinian land in the Israeli case and Tohono O’odham land in Arizona.

      The Tohono O’odham Nation is just one of several indigenous nations facing further partition because of US and Mexican border policies.

      And both projects intend to stop the movement of persons under the guise of “security.” . . .


      • JLewisDickerson
        April 5, 2015, 5:07 pm


        [EXCERPT] . . . The [leaked South African] cable notes that the recently appointed chief of El Al security at Oliver Tambo Airport [near Johannesburg] was suspected of being an intelligence agent.

        El Al security officers routinely harass South African travelers at airports. A vice president of the national municipal workers union, traveling to Israel to attend an anti-Occupation conference in the West Bank village of Bilin, was strip-searched, interrogated and detained before his flight departed. He was escorted by Israeli security to his plane one-minute before take-off.

        Besides El Al, the cable notes it is an “internationally-known practice” that Israeli defense companies like Elbit and Israel Aircraft Industries play key roles in assisting the Mossad in its operations in countries where it operates. . .

        SOURCE –

      • DaBakr
        April 5, 2015, 11:37 pm

        What’s odd about the spot is it’s the US and some of its allies (egypt, ksa, israel , iraq, turkey) who are planning and coordinating the building of walls to keep whoever they think are ‘undesirable’ from bypassing security.seems like the USMC is going to be a big part of securing all these new barriers that are being built by the super rich powers as part of the new world security state. While I think Israel’s walls will come down eventually I can’t predict the same for walls like the us/mex wall. *

        *And people being people will always find ways to circumvent.

      • larick
        April 7, 2015, 1:42 pm

        Hewlett Packard and manages the data base for the entire population of Israel-Palestine for contract by Israel, and manages the ID cards. They also are in the business on US-Mex border and in prisons in U.S. This is the updated analog to IBM in WWII Germany where they knew exactly which doorways led to Jews. The database is the weapon that will keep people on either side of any border. They are a legitimate target of the BDS campaign with JVP leading the way here in U.S.

    • RoHa
      April 5, 2015, 7:11 pm

      I’m a bit surprised to see that reference to the Pale in Russia. It is an English phrase, and it predates the Russian Pale. It is much more likely, and appropriately, a reference to the Irish Pale. On our side, English rule, order, decency, civilization. Beyond it – the Irish.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 6, 2015, 7:12 pm

        Re: “I’m a bit surprised to see that reference to the Pale in Russia. It is an English phrase, and it predates the Russian Pale. It is much more likely, and appropriately, a reference to the Irish Pale.” ~ RoHa

        MY REPLY: My impression is that he Russian rulers and the Russian elites (i.e., aristocrats) during that period (the late 1700s) were pretty much Anglophiles, so that’s probably where they got the idea.

        That said, I understand the point you’re making.

        The Scandanavian dynastic/tribal/family pale pictured in the screen capture from Arn: The Knight Templar would have existed in mid-12th century Sweden (assuming historical accuracy).

      • RoHa
        April 6, 2015, 8:38 pm

        Anglophile Russians might have taken an idiom from English, but it is less likely that they contributed an idiom.

        Also, the idiom was in use in Britain in at least the early 1700s, before the Russian Pale was established.

        The concept – outside decency – fits the Irish pale more directly than the Russian Pale. Allowing Jews to live outside the restricted area is a concession, but not automatically a breach of decency. (And not everything is about Jews.)

        Altogether, it seems more likely that the British would create an idiom from a local situation that happened in the past than a distant, foreign situation that had not yet happened.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 7, 2015, 7:01 pm

        Not to belabour the point (lol), I think the idiom is based not so much on being beyond an “enforced pale” like that of the Irish or the Jews, as it is on being vulnerable when outside the dynastic/tribal/family pale (lived in voluntarily, for one’s own protection) like the one in the screen capture from the film Arn: The Knight Templar – which would have existed in mid-12th century Sweden (assuming historical accuracy).


        [EXCERPT] . . . The first printed reference comes from 1657 in John Harington’s* lyric poem The History of Polindor and Flostella. In that work, the character Ortheris withdraws with his beloved to a country lodge for ‘quiet, calm and ease’, but they later venture further:

        “Both Dove-like roved forth beyond the pale to planted Myrtle-walk”.

        Such recklessness rarely meets with a good end in 17th century verse and before long the lovers are attacked by armed men with ‘many a dire killing thrust’. The message is clear – ‘if there is a pale, decent people stay inside it’, which conveys exactly the figurative meaning of the phrase as it is used today. [In other words, saying something that is deemed to be “outside the pale” is saying something ‘recklessly’ (i.e., being reckless), just as taking a “Dove-like” stroll (i.e., “roving forth”) beyond the pale/lodge (to savor the Myrtle) is recklessly subjecting oneself to the possibility being attacked by armed men (and, sadly, not always with something as poetic/romantic as ‘many a dire killing thrust’! ~ J.L.D.]

        SOURCE –

        * P.S. John Harington, Courtier
        Sir John Harington, of Kelston [“Be still my heart!”], was a courtier, author and master of art, popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet [yes, that John – at least one of them]. He became a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I’s court [i.e., the court of “The Virgin Queen”], and was known as her “saucy Godson”.
        Born: August 4, 1561, Kelston, United Kingdom
        Died: November 20, 1612
        Education: Eton College
        Book: “A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax” (1596) is a political allegory and a coded attack on the monarchy.
        SOURCE –

      • RoHa
        April 7, 2015, 7:40 pm

        That makes much more sense than the stuff about Catherine the Great. Harrington is closer in time to the early 1700s than the Irish Pale, as well.

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 7, 2015, 10:01 pm

        P.P.S. THE LAST WORD:
        Russian Ark 2002 NR 96 mins
        Our best guess for you: 4.9 stars [I gave it a 5]
        Average of 107872 ratings: 3.2 stars
        A visually hypnotizing cinematic feat, Russian Ark is Alexsandr Sokurov’s spellbinding ode to St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum. Shot in one take on digital video, the film shows the museum from a first-person point of view. As the photography floats through the lavish corridors of the museum, a cast of 867 actors supplies the action — including The Marquis (Sergey Dreyden), an aged European who acts as the film’s charismatic guide.
        Language: Russian (English subtitles)
        Netflix format: DVD and streaming
        Netflix listing –
        ■ ENTIRE FILM ALSO ON YouTube [1:35:12] –

        P.S. ■ Aleksandr Sokurov: on making Russian Ark — one shot, no cuts, 96 minutes [VIDEO, 49:29] –

      • JLewisDickerson
        April 8, 2015, 12:28 pm

        “Beyond the pale”, The Grammarphobia Blog, December 7, 2012

        [EXCERPT] . . . When the noun “pale” was first recorded in the 1300s, it referred to a wooden stake meant to be driven into the ground.

        At that time, “pale” was a doublet—that is, an etymological twin—of the much earlier word “pole,” according to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology.

        Both “pale” and “pole” once had the same meaning and came from the same source, the Latin word palus.

        As the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] explains, in classical Latin a palus was a stake or a “wooden post used by Roman soldiers to represent an opponent during fighting practice.”

        In post-classical Latin, palus also meant a palisade (originally a fence or enclosure made with wooden stakes), or a stripe (as in heraldry).

        The noun “pale” was first recorded in writing in the mid-14th century. Its original meaning, the OED says, was a stake or “a pointed piece of wood intended to be driven into the ground, esp. as used with others to form a fence.”

        In the late 14th century, “pale” was also used to mean the fence itself.

        In the following century, “pale” acquired a couple of new meanings.

        It could be “an area enclosed by a fence,” or “any enclosed place,” to quote the OED. It could also mean “a district or territory within determined bounds, or subject to a particular jurisdiction.”

        Here’s where our two expressions come in. “Beyond the pale” came first, as we said, dating from the early 18th century.

        Originally the phrase was followed by “of” and it meant “outside or beyond the bounds of” something. For example, here are the OED’s three earliest citations:

        “Acteon … suffer’d his Eye to rove at Pleasure, and beyond the Pale of Expedience.” (From Alexander Smith’s A Compleat History of Rogues, 1720.)

        “Nature is thus wise in our construction, that, when we would be blessed beyond the pale of reason, we are blessed imperfectly.” (From Henry Mackenzie’s The Man of the World, 1773.)

        “Without one overt act of hostility … he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond the pale of his favour.” (From Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, 1847).

        But late in the 19th century the prepositional phrase fell away, according to Oxford, and “beyond the pale” was used by itself to mean “outside the limits of acceptable behaviour; unacceptable or improper.”

        That’s how it’s been used ever since, as in these two OED citations:

        “Unknown, doubtful Americans, neither rich nor highly-placed are beyond the pale.” (From the 1885 novel At Bay, written by “Mrs. Alexander,” the pen name of Annie Hector.)

        “If you pinched a penny of his pay you passed beyond the pale, you became an unmentionable.” (From a 1928 issue of Public Opinion.)

        Now for our other “pale” expression. As we mentioned above, the use of “pale” to describe a region or territory subject to a certain control or jurisdiction dates from the mid-1400s.

        When first used, the reference was to English jurisdiction, and over the centuries “the pale” (sometimes capitalized) has been used to refer to areas of Ireland, Scotland, and France (that is, the territory of Calais) when they were under England’s control.

        But this sense of “pale” is perhaps most familiar in the phrase “Pale of Settlement,” which the OED says is modeled after the Russian certa osedlosti (literally, “boundary of settlement”).

        Oxford defines the phrase as “a set of specified provinces and districts within which Jews in Russia and Russian-occupied Poland were required to reside between 1791 and 1917.”

        The OED’s earliest citation for the use of the phrase in writing comes from Russia and the Jews: A Brief Sketch of Russian History and the Condition of Its Jewish Subjects (1890), written by an author identified as “A. Reader”:

        “The Jews … as soon as the contract was completed … had to return within the ‘pale’ of settlement.”

        This more contemporary example is from the Slavic and East European Journal (1999): “Deeply depressed by Jewish life in the Pale of Settlement, Gershenzon struggled to escape the ‘darkness’ and reach the light.”

        As for the relationship between the two expressions, the OED has this to say:

        “The theory that the origin of the phrase [‘beyond the pale’] relates to any of several specific regions, such as the area of Ireland formerly called the Pale … or the Pale of Settlement in Russia … is not supported by the early historical evidence and is likely to be a later rationalization.” . . .


      • Walid
        April 8, 2015, 2:20 pm

        You also have “palisade” from French palissade, from Old French, from Old Provençal palissada, from palissa (“stake”), from Gallo-Romance *pālīcea, from Latin pālus (“stake”).

        Also used for stake-like cliffs like the Palisade of New Jersey or the Hudson River Palisade.

      • RoHa
        April 8, 2015, 7:33 pm

        Good stuff. Thanks.

        It looks as though it did originate in references to domestic pales (perhaps kicked off by Harington) and quickly became a metaphor.

        The phrase was too early for the Russian Pale, but pretty late for the Irish. (A shame. I lose an opportunity to be rude about the Irish.)

        Thanks to James Joyce, I am more familiar with the Irish Pale than the Calais or Russian Pales.

  5. Citizen
    April 6, 2015, 10:44 am

    No way to find out who made the video, and for whom? Then ask appropriate person(s)?

    • Citizen
      April 6, 2015, 10:53 am

      J Walter Thompson ad, one of two new recruiting ads launched last March, and the apparent video ad’s location is somewhere in the Middle East:

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2015, 1:06 pm

        I sorta doubt the boys and girls(?) this video is aimed at have any freakin idea what is going on in Palestine, or know about the “security barrier” in Israel.

        After all, the Marine Corps, has to maintain some sort of standards! Well informed kids with their ethics and morality on right, joining the Marines? That must be prevented. So you start “qualifying” them with the very first video they see.

  6. edwardm
    April 9, 2015, 11:42 am

    “The next time Israeli apologists tell you that the Wall is a security measure that keeps suicide bombers out of Israel, just remember the number 1,276. One thousand, two hundred and seventy six is – at a minimum – the average number of permit-less Palestinians who bypass the Wall on a weekly basis to work in Israel. They are asking you to believe that the destitution Israel’s West Bank land grab inflicts on some of the poorest people on earth is justified because a wall which is breached at least 1,276 times a week by undocumented workers is nevertheless impermeable to suicide bombers.” – LOC 2007

  7. michelle
    April 9, 2015, 2:32 pm

    one wonders is it harder to break down the walls
    one can see or the walls one can’t see
    life is filled with walls and boxes
    G-d Bless

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