Video capture from the Facebook clip
Ten days ago, in an online webinar broadcast globally by Facebook to wherever there are Arabic-speaking fans of this kind of thing, a celebration took place.
Ahlam Tamimi, a fanatical Islamist, the killer of our daughter Malka Chana Roth, and a woman who was released from her Israeli prison cell after serving just eight years of a sixteen-consecutive-terms-of-life-imprisonment sentence, was its main drawcard.
Her speech reminded those of us watching from afar of just how much improbable freedom this boastful Jordanian bomber of a Jerusalem pizzeria in 2001 and a murderer of children has managed to acquire over the years since her return to the place of her birth and education (Jordan). It’s where much of her immediate and extended family lives.
Tamimi’s speech underscored how it is that she became the world’s most wanted female fugitive. If your Arabic allows it, watch the full video here thanks to the mindless generosity of Facebook. (In case it disappears, we archived it here. We asked some capable and helpful Arabic-speaking friends to translate the overall sense of it. These notes are based on what they said.)
Taking a historical view, Tamimi refers to the steady decline in the status of Palestinian Arab prisoners in the wake of the 1994 Oslo Accords. Meaning she’s reaching back to 1994 when she was about the same age as Malki, our daughter, was she was killed in the explosion Tamimi executed seven years later in the center of Jerusalem.
That’s a problem in her eyes, the loss of standing and attention. In an earlier period, the fact of prisoners being released from their Israeli prison cells would have triggered meaningful festivities, she says. Today all that happens is a few family members come and greet the prisoner at the nearest Israeli checkpoint. No ceremonies, no community involvement. (For what it’s worth, we see plenty of evidence via the Arabic-language social media that in many cases at least, they do make a big deal.)
Another indicator of how serious this new reality is: families are no longer as happy as they once were to see their daughters married off to released prisoners. And let’s clarify that when she says ‘prisoners’, what she means is terrorists.
Tamimi sees this decline in ardor and prestige as influencing the media as well. If the public no longer care as much about the prisoner issue, she asserts, the media see less need to give it coverage.
As an instance, she cites the death of a prisoner in an Israel prison a few days earlier. Death came, she says, via a heart attack and overcame the imprisoned hero just a few months before his expected release.
She refers in a similar way to the infection of dozens of prisoners with the Corona virus. Both, she says, illustrate how the public showing little interest led to the media failing to cover them. (Again, from where we sit, there is very considerable media coverage in the Arab world for both the deaths of “prisoners” inside Israeli prisons – never the result of anything ordinary, always stemming from Israeli malevolence – and the cruel ravages of COVID-19 which is also a direct result of Zionism in their telling.)
Though she doesn’t name names, the heart attack case is probably Daoud Tala’at al-Khatib from Bethlehem whose death in Ofer Prison on Jerusalem’s northern edge was reported in Middle East Eye on September 3, 2020. The story told there is that Khatib had been
“sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in anti-occupation activities as a member of the Fatah movement. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ and Former Prisoners’ Affairs said fellow inmates at Ofer protested after learning of Khatib’s death, banging on doors and chanting. Israeli prison officers then reportedly raided the cells and put 10 prisoners in solitary confinement. Khatib’s death has reignited calls for Israeli prison services to be held accountable for its medical neglect of jailed Palestinians.”
They go further over at Palestine News Network where Khatib is reliably reported to have been “martyred in Ofer prison as a result of a heart attack“, while Electronic Intifada attributes his death to “an apparent stroke as the cause of death, but that has not been officially confirmed“.
None of the Arab reports give much context. But we found a Lebanese account revealing [here] that the terrorist had a history of cardiac problems. Following an earlier heart attack in 2017, he underwent open heart surgery which, since he was a prisoner, would have been done as a no-cost gift from Israel’s excellent medical system. How likely is it that he would have gotten care of this quality in the free market of the world he came from?
The house organ of the Palestinian Authority, WAFA, says an autopsy showed he did of “severe heart failure resulting from cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease“. It’s hard to see problems like these stemming from anything the Israeli prison system could have inflicted. But we’re working from limited information and the overblown nature of the Arab narrative tends to make things more confused and unclear than they would otherwise be.
Palestine News Network, paying some small attention to how he got imprisoned in the first place, calls him “a member of the General Intelligence Service, where he was arrested on charges of resisting the occupation“. We’re familiar with that kind of double-talk. Times of Israel, unimpressed by the vague generalities, says he had been “a member of the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah faction“. 2002, when he was arrested, was a period in which murderous terror attacks by Fatah were a daily occurrence. (We’re trying to find references from open sources that might nail down how this ‘prisoner’ was sentenced to a term that would normally indicate someone was killed.)
Back to Ahlam Tamimi.
Her next complaint is that the status enjoyed by prisoners in Palestinian Arab society has to be strengthened and popular concern for them implanted in the collective consciousness, and that this isn’t happening enough. If it were, they would get the respect they deserve in the media as well.
|Signing the Abraham Agreement – September 15, 2020
She then moves on to the more acute – and highly current – problem of Arab normalization with Israel, the process exemplified by Israel’s recent understandings with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. She sees this too as causing a lowering of overall interest in the well-being of prisoners/terrorists.
And so does the Palestinian Authority negotiating with Israel. (Note that while her terrorism career began with her joining the nominally-secular Fatah faction of the PLO in 2000, she soon left it and was recruited into the Islamism-oriented Hamas; the two are perpetually at odds, often violently so.) She makes no mention of the Abbas regime’s obsessive protecting and funding of its satanic scheme to give financial incentives to acts of terrorism – often called Pay To Slay. But then she’s not making Fatah’s case here; she identifies with its main competitor, Hamas.
Tamimi then addresses the usefulness of the social media. She says she feels a need to breath new life into the issue of prisoners/terrorists. The advantages of the social media include that they are not subject to what the translators call “certain agendas that afflict the rest of the media“. The social media, as distinct from the conventional press, television and radio, are characterized by low cost, fast publishing and a high degree of interactivity. In the world for which she speaks, these are valuable things.
It’s important, suggests Tamimi, who has a masters degree in journalism, to cultivate good relations with social media influencers. This, she says, is the way to win over younger people. She names several Arab social media activists whose followers number in the millions and who could produce short video clips about prisoners/terrorists.
She also urges reaching out to footballers and celebrities from such other fields as fashion models, religion, politics. How this fits with her adherence to Islamist conservatism is left unanswered.
|Tamimi the pan-Arab celebrity formally cuts a ribbon
As far as we can tell from the account we received, Tamimi made no mention of her own deep personal involvement in, and leverage of, such social media as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We have been involved in efforts, so far all of them successful, to have her accounts on those platforms shut down. Her whack-a-mole persistence in relaunching under new names immediately after being silenced speaks to a real need for being heard and for influencing.
It’s hard to not see this horrifying woman as a passionate, almost uniquely toxic, influencer. How many reporters, broadcasters, bloggers, commentators do you know who have double-digit murders in their CV?! And who are safeguarded by an entire government, Jordan’s, despite the country’s near-total dependence on US aid and support? There’s a far deeper and more compelling story here than most people have ever realized.
There’s something quite breathtaking about watching her use – and be allowed to use – Facebook to encourage others to follow in her path, to make the world a safer and more welcoming place for her brand of terrorists – those who go looking for little children in busy pizzerias.
How is this not a front page story on the world’s most important news sites?
Tamimi appeared in a different setting just yesterday. We came across it while writing this post. She’s mentioned in a Palestinian Arab op ed on the Al Watan Voice website [here] that waxes poetic about the sacrifices, the devotion, the sheer decency of Palestinian Arab prisoners (i.e. convicted terrorists).
The writer, called Hassan Al-Asi, delves into the “self-sacrificing” backgrounds of a number of cold-blooded terrorists before briefly devoting himself briefly to Tamimi:
The freed prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi, whose father also fell ill with Alzheimer’s Disease [having just written that another ‘prisoner’ had the same fate] and did not recognize her, always cries if you listen to her telling her story. She says that she did not feel free after her  release because freedom, in her sense, is the memories with her father and mother. She said that during her discussion of the Master’s thesis [evidently a reference to a degree in journalism she received last summer from a private university in Jordan], her father remembered her for two seconds and called her by a name of endearment that he used to call her when she was young. The sacrifice of the prisoners is one of the greatest and noblest sacrifices. They are the ones who sacrifice their freedom for the sake of the freedom of their people…