After receiving some offline comments on the Tamimi speech we publicized yesterday, we have a few further thoughts to share. The urge to do this is triggered by a sense that something deeply disturbing is going on; it’s being ignored or willfully not noticed by people who ought to be noticing.
When a politician or public figure on our side of the fence makes an ignorant or dumb or smart or incisive statement, particularly when it’s about the Arabs (you know the examples), his/her comments are greeted with near-instant analysis and frequently with condemnation from a global array of press and politicians. The Arab media focus obsessively on such things. Outside the Arab/Islamic world, we frequently see European, American, Australian and other critics drawing wide inferences about how those specific Israeli views are going to bring on the next Black Plague or an increase in pogroms in France. The claim, at minimum, is that irreparable harm is going to be caused to the souls and DNA of innocent Israeli children, to world peace and so on.
To illustrate: when a posse of Israeli delinquents (it happens to be a very current issue here) beat up an Arab youth in a street fight, the New York Times says the event has led to ”a stark national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point” That’s an actual quote: check it out. We think the Times‘ journalist’s conclusion is overwrought nonsense, but that’s not the point. Israel is not, never has been and should never be, immune to criticism, or even object to it, and mostly doesn’t.
Now think for a moment about how Ahlam Tamimi and her hundreds of published interviews and speeches are treated by global public opinion. Pay attention in particular to how Arabs view her, since they are her principal audience.
No one – certainly not the woman herself – denies the fact that she planned and carried out a premeditated killing on a large and vicious scale, which was the whole point of doing it. The law convicted her on the basis that she’s a murderer; she says (more or less) that she did it for the freedom and honour of her nation. The fact that she planned to kill and succeeded mightily has never been in dispute. She does not miss an opportunity to say that it was children, and specifically Jewish children, and even more specifically orthodox Jewish children like ours, who were the target. She regrets that she did not kill more – it’s there in yesterday’s video and in numerous other speeches and earlier videos recorded in her Jordanian freedom.
She appears on television and in front of adoring crowds (ask us if you want to view the video files) and expresses the vilest kind of racist hatred of Jews, Israelis and Zionists. She has done this many times since she unjustly got her freedom in October and her message is hugely amplified by the social media. She is a star on YouTube, a hero on Facebook. She is globally broadcast via satellite television into every corner of the Arabic-speaking world. It’s arguable that she has the largest footprint of any ordinary murderer (ignoring “celebrities” like Hitler, Mao, Stalin et al) in human history. If that seems like an overstatement then we urge you to concede that she is in the major leagues. The fact that most people don’t know this is largely because most people don’t speak Arabic.
She smiles warmly when she says she killed those Jews, and her god wanted her to do it. She points to how she has subsequently been rewarded with freedom, fame, a wedding that received live television coverage. The adoring crowds applaud and ululate. The encouragement (and probably the will) to emulate her actions is clear.
How many Arabic speakers are there in the world? A quick query on the web turns up these numbers: ”280 million native speakers, and an extra 250 million non-native speakers” [source]. How many Arabic newspapers? Many.
Here’s our point: We have searched and have not yet found a blog, article, published speech or op-ed in her language, Arabic, which criticizes the woman or her views. So far, not one. If our readers can point us to exceptions, please do.
This is deeply shocking. Tamimi’s message resonates throughout the Arab and Islamic world. Her views don’t even rise to the level of controversial. She’s simply a hero, wall to wall. She and her vile deeds, opinions and intentions appear to represent some sort of global consensus in the Arab and Islamic world. There is no public debate, no expressions of outrage – not even concerning the passivity of the Kingdom of Jordan where she lives and from where a vibrant Tamimi-focused industry of online and broadcast videos sends its message of hatred and death out to the world.
Does the absence of criticism throughout the Arab world mean they support the deliberate killing of the innocent people among their enemy? Does their silence mean they support the murder of children as Tamimi certainly does, and they want to see it happen again and again as she certainly does?
What does this say about the discourse underway in the Arab world? What light does it throw on the global news media?
What can we learn from here about the chances for ever making peace?
About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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