[News] Mahmoud Abbas: Stop Exploiting Ahed Tamimi for Personal Gain

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 9 11:39:36 EDT 2018


  Mahmoud Abbas: Stop Exploiting Ahed Tamimi for Personal Gain

by Ramzy Baroud <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/cet6s/> - August 9, 

The father of 11-year-old, Abdul Rahman Nofal contacted me, asking for 
help. His son was shot in the leg during Gaza’s ‘Great March of Return’ 
protests. The Strip’s dilapidated health care system could not save the 
little boy’s leg, as it was later amputated.

His father, Yamen, himself a young man from the Buraij Refugee Camp in 
central Gaza, only wants his child to receive a prosthetic leg so that 
he can walk to school. The Israelis are refusing the boy a permit to 
cross into Ramallah to receive treatment. Desperate, Yamen composed a 
video, where he pleads with Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud 
Abbas, to help his son. So far, his pleas have gone unanswered.

“What did this innocent child do to deserve such mistreatment?” he asks 
in the short video. The same question can be asked regarding the 
ill-treatment of all of Gaza’s children, of all Palestinian children.

Abbas, along with Israel, has subjected Palestinians in Gaza to a 
prolonged campaign of collective punishment. As cruel as Israel’s 
repeated wars on the impoverished and besieged Strip have been, it is 
consistent with Tel Aviv’s history of war crimes and apartheid. But what 
Abbas is doing to Gaza is not just unfair, but also puzzling.

Why is an 83-year-old leader so keen on engaging Israel through the 
so-called security coordination, and, yet, so insistent on isolating and 
punishing his own people in the Gaza Strip?

Instead of helping Gazans who are reeling under the destructive outcomes 
of Israeli wars and over a decade of hermetic siege, he has been 
tightening the noose.

Abbas’ Authority has, thus far, cut salaries it previously paid to Gaza 
employees, even those loyal to his own faction, Fatah; he has cut 
salaries to the families of Gaza prisoners held in Israel; he has even 
withheld payments to the Israeli electric company that provided Gaza 
with some of its electricity needs, plunging the Strip even further into 

Like Israel, Abbas also wants to see Gaza on its knees. But, unlike 
Israel, he is humiliating his own brethren.

Starting on May 14, when thousands of Palestinians in Gaza went out to 
the fence separating the imprisoned enclave from Israel, Abbas’ 
supporters in the West Bank understood the ‘March of Return’ protests as 
a validation of Fatah’s rival, Hamas. So they, too, took to the streets 
in ‘celebration’ of Abbas’ imaginary achievements.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands more wounded 
in the ongoing ‘March of Return’, many of them children; but Abbas and 
his Fatah allies were far more interested in ensuring their own 
relevance rather than joining the protests in demanding an end to the 
Gaza blockade.

When much larger rallies were held in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West 
Bank calling on Abbas to end his punishment of the Gaza Strip, they were 
attacked by Abbas’ security goons. Men and women were beaten up, and 
many were arrested for solidarity with Gaza, now an unforgivable act.

The truth is that Palestinians in the West Bank, not just in Gaza, 
loathe Mahmoud Abbas. They want him and his violent corrupt apparatus to 
go away. He refuses, however, crafting all sorts of tactics to ensure 
his dominance over his opponents, going as far as working with Israel to 
achieve such a dishonorable objective.

However, Abbas still wants to convince Palestinians that he is 
resisting, not the type of ‘useless resistance’ displayed by Gazans, but 
his own style of ‘peaceful civil resistance’ of Palestinian villages in 
the West Bank.

Such emphasis was made once more in recent days.

As soon as Palestinian teenage protester, Ahed Tamimi, was released from 
an Israeli prison after spending 8 months in jail for slapping an 
Israeli soldier, Abbas was ready to host her and her family.

Footage of him hugging and kissing the Tamimi family was beamed all over 
Palestine and across the world. His official media apparatus was keen on 
placing him at the center of attention throughout the days following 
Ahed’s release.

Abbas then, once more, lectured about ‘peaceful civil resistance’, 
failing, of course, to underscore that thousands of Gaza children, who 
were injured near the Gaza fence in recent months, were also ‘peacefully 

True, Ahed is a symbol for a rebellious Palestinian young generation 
which is fed up with having no rights and no freedoms, but Abbas’ 
shameless attempt at harnessing that symbolism to polish his own image 
is pure exploitation.

If Abbas truly cared for Palestinian children and agonized over the pain 
of Palestinian prisoners – as he claims he does – why, then, worsen the 
plight of Gaza children and punish the families of Palestinian prisoners?

Of course, Ahed, a strong young girl with an empowered political 
discourse to match, cannot be blamed for how others, like Abbas, are 
exploiting her image to uphold their own.

The same can be said of Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was 
shot in the head by Taliban militants at the age of 14. The West’s 
exploitation of her struggle to recover from her wounds and breach peace 
and justice for her people, is unfortunate. In Western psyche, Malala’s 
struggle is often, if not always, used to highlight the dangers of 
so-called radical Islam and to further validate US-western military 
intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This issue was addressed firmly by Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who was also 
imprisoned in an Israeli jail and released 8 months later. Nariman 
bravely spoke of the racist notions that made Ahed popular in Western media.

“Frankly it is probably Ahed’s looks that prompted this worldwide 
solidarity and that’s racist, by the way, because many Palestinian 
children are in Ahed’s position but weren’t treated in this way,” she said.

With this in mind, it is important that Ahed Tamimi is not turned into 
another Malala, where her ‘peaceful resistance’ is used to condemn 
Gaza’s ongoing resistance, and where the fascination with her blonde, 
uncovered hair, drowns the cries of the thousands of Ahed Tamimis 
throughout besieged Gaza, in fact throughout Palestine.

/*Dr. Ramzy Baroud* has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 
years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media 
consultant, an author of several books and the founder of 
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom 
Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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