by Samah Salaime
“Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews… No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, ‘This is not our people. This is not our way’.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, during his speech Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly, decided to talk about the murderous attack on the Dawabshe family. But as luck would have it, I, too, was there during Netanyahu’s highly-publicized visit to the hospital — Ahmed’s uncle wasn’t even present. He happened to be at a different hospital when Netanyahu arrived, next to Ahmed’s father who succumbed to his wounds a few days later.
The person who was with Ahmed — the only member of the Dawabshe family who survived — was the doctor from Duma who got on a helicopter so he could be at the child’s side. The doctor refused to stand alongside Netanyahu during his visit to urgent care, and asked that Netanyahu not be photographed with Ahmed, who suffered burns over his entire body.
The conversation between us and Netanyahu took place in the adjacent room, and since I was there I can say that the words “This is not our people. This is not our way” were never uttered. So what did Netanyahu say? We will catch the perpetrators, we will punish them, we will compensate you. And he promised: we will rebuild the house and take care of the family. I remember that the doctor wanted to ensure that Netanyahu knew how important it was to catch those who burned the family, and more importantly: that those who did it aren’t labeled “insane” in court.
By the way, the person who actually did refer to “our people” was President Reuven Rivlin, who arrived a few minutes later. But why split hairs? The truth is less important when you want the world to picture a sympathetic Netanyahu standing above Ahmed’s bed, as his uncle looks on and cries as he hears Dear Leader’s big promises.
Playing with the Dead
Netanyahu also mentioned that Hamas is not allowing the Goldin and Shaul families — whose sons were killed during the 2014 war, and whose bodies are currently being held by Hamas — to properly bury their children, claiming that refusing to do so is “unbelievably cruel.”
Perhaps someone should remind him how many bodies of Palestinians Israel is currently holding? Because Palestinians also deserve a dignified burial, and not after months of being frozen and under restrictive conditions set by the army and the police. Of course these Palestinian families, who according to military law cannot even assemble to mourn, do not appear in Netanyahu’s speech.
Let’s summarize: a soldier who enters Gaza in a tank in order to go to war, and his parents are eligible for a flight to New York with the prime minister. On the other hand a Palestinian who may or may not have been wielding a knife and who was shot and killed by soldiers is thrown into a freezer for months on end.
During his speech Netanyahu spoke about an imaginary Palestinian teenager named Ali. Netanyahu is very worried about what is happened to young Ali. He claims that Ali is being abused, force-fed incitement, racism, and hatred — both in his school and outside of it.
Only this week, at two in the morning, did over 10 army jeeps raid the village Bil’in in the West Bank, where they confiscated computers and telephones, barging into dozens of homes. An entire, non-imaginary village did not wake up for school. The children did not stay at home in order to learn hatred from their schoolbooks — they were busy picking up the mess the most moral soldiers in the world left when they ripped their clothing out of closets and deliberately broke their tables.
Where does Netanyahu get the gall to claim that Israel is different? Just yesterday, as Netanyahu was giving his speech, the State Comptroller published a report according to which the education system is failing to tackle racism. Where in Israel do Jews learn to love Palestinians? What system is feeding these children who, one day, may end up shooting a dying, incapacitated man in Hebron, or who may end up writing “hating Arabs is a mitzvah?” Bibi Theresa, leave your preaching of peace and love to the others.
What can I say, Netanyahu’s speech gave me a craving for oranges. Jaffa oranges made a cameo in Netanyahu’s speech as proof that a tiny state could turn oranges into an Israeli trademark created by European Jews who danced in circles after a long day of work. The only problem? That orange was also stolen from Palestinian fields, where they grew before the 1948 War. Those Palestinian farmers became refugees and left the orange groves behind them.
The Mufti is out, the UN is in
Year after year Netanyahu chooses a different country or group to blame for their hatred, anti-Semitism, and desire to wipe out Israel. This time he went all out: everyone. The UN, the General Assembly itself, the chairs, the UN Human Rights Council, world representatives — everyone hates Israel. No one is innocent, apart from the United States. The U.S. is the Jewish people’s only true friend. Everyone else is anti-Semitic, extremist, hypocritical — only America proves its loyalty time and time again. And all the weapons, planes, and missiles that we receive from Uncle Sam only prove how deep and unbreakable this love truly is.
And if that wasn’t enough to cause you to tear up, Netanyahu finished off by offering his well wishes to Shimon Peres, who suffered a stroke a week ago. “I always admired his optimism,” said Bibi, and all of us — in Israel and across the world — understood the hint: soon Peres will go, and all you will have left is me. Me and me alone.
This article is reprinted, with permission, from Local Call and its English-language sister site, +972 Magazine.
Samah Salaime founded and runs the NGO, Arab Women in the Center.