The blue-eyed poster girl of Palestinian propaganda
Op-ed: Ahed Tamimi’s success in the Western public opinion stems from the fact that she doesn’t look like a typical Muslim or Palestinian woman; she generates sympathy because she looks like the daughter of the white family next door. As long as she delivers the goods, the clear racist aspect in this ability to identify with her doesn’t really matter.
Ahed Tamimi, of course, isn’t the only one in these displays. But she’s the best. She looks just like a girl who could capture the hearts of foreign photojournalists and the Western public opinion. She wears neither a hijab nor a burqa. On the contrary, she has a typical European look. A girl who looks like their girl.
For years, she has been at the center of more and more staged provocations. She always tries to get IDF soldiers to respond with violence, and she always fails. Because IDF soldiers are world champions in self-restraint.
But in a region which holds the world record for cameras per square meters, some kind of inappropriate behavior is found every few months, as not everyone is perfect. Last week, soldiers were caught using unnecessary violence against a bound Palestinian. Certain organizations seize these opportunities eagerly. This is the IDF, they say. They’re lying, of course.
Not all Western newspapers, which usually love the blonde, blue-eyed girl, got caught in the trap. In recent years, different newspapers in the world—including the British Daily Mail and the American Tower—have exposed the real story of Tamimi and her parents as part of a propaganda machine in Pallywood’s service. But they were exceptions.
Around the globe, and to a degree in Israel as well, the deception hasn’t really been revealed. After all, the photographers used her and she used them. The model of the intifada. Her pictures turned her into an Internet star: Raising a fist against soldiers, biting a soldier, leading a group of marching protestors. She became a propaganda asset. The most photographed Palestinian woman in the past five years.
And as is becoming of a star, in 2012 she was invited to a special event in her honor in Turkey, where she received an award named after Handala, a Palestinian boy created by cartoonist Naji al-Ali, symbolizing the Palestinian refugee as a victim of Israeli brutality. Granted, Turkey has destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages, two million people have become refugees in their country and 30,000 have been killed. But there’s no cartoon named after them. Hypocrisy works overtime there. Later on, Tamimi was invited to have breakfast with the great leader, Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ahed even got an academic paper written about her, about what she represents and about the fact that she is joining other female stars of the Palestinian struggle, like Hanan Ashrawi and terrorist Leila Khaled. The same article also implies that there is sometime racist about the fact that the Western viewer has trouble identifying with other young women who are dark-skinned and wear a hijab. Tamimi’s success essentially stems from the fact that she doesn’t look like a typical Muslim or Palestinian woman. On the contrary, she generates sympathy because she looks like the daughter of the white family next door. There is of course a clear racist aspect in the ability to identify with her of all people. But that doesn’t matter, as long as she delivers the goods.
Bassem Tamimi, the star’s father, is famous for his own activities and has received the familiar “human rights activist” definition. Is that so? Tamimi is indeed a wanted guest on many anti-Israel stages around the world. But like too many of these activists, when you delve beyond the surface, you find a radical Palestinian who urges violence and helps spread blood libels against Israel.
He retweeted, for example, a tweet stating that “the Israelis’ goal, when they arrest Palestinian children, is to steal their organs.” And following that post, it was determined that “the Zionists control the global media, so we shouldn’t expect the BBC to publish this information.” So we got both a blood libel focusing on children and a repetition of theories resembling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Pure anti-Semitism. That didn’t stop the Amnesty organization from defining him as a “prisoner of conscience.”
We mustn’t delude ourselves. In the battle between the propaganda of lies and Israel, the lies win. The somewhat exaggerated restraint of the Israeli soldiers isn’t helping either. Bassem Tamimi himself was a guest of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), one of the leading organizations in the anti-Israel campaigns on US campuses. I once mentioned that they cancelled a collaboration with Miko Peled, a former Israeli, over anti-Semitic comments, but I believe that was a one-time digression from their usual activity.
Tamimi and his likes, who support terrorism and are in favor of Israel’s destruction, are honored and respected. They don’t even have to pretend to be rights activists. They are guests of honor even when they oppose peace, encourage violence and provide justifications for terrorism.