I am delighted that Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi has been given the red carpet treatment by Spanish football giants Real Madrid following her release from an Israeli prison, where she spent eight months after slapping a couple of Israeli soldiers. Her heroic resistance has certainly captured the imagination of many around the world.
However, just a few hours before the 17-year-old and her father Basim were hosted at the famous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Spain’s capital, seven other young Palestinians in Gaza made the ultimate sacrifice in their peaceful resistance to Israel’s brutal military occupation. There were no headline news bulletins, though, as they were buried after being killed by Israeli forces during the regular Friday Palestinian protests demanding their legitimate right to return to their land usurped decades ago by the state of Israel.
Both stories are, of course, newsworthy but only one was covered by the fickle western media which seems to use a racist barometer when it comes to editorial content. Teenager Ahed is a striking figure with her wild mane of hair, incredible defiance and courage, so is — thankfully — hard to ignore, especially now that she is on a tour across Europe. In stark contrast, the funerals of Iyad Al-Shaer, 18, Muhammad Haniyeh, 23, Muhammad Shakhsa, 25, Muhammad Anshahi, 18, Muhammad Al-Awawdeh, 26, and two children — Muhammad Al-Hum, 14, and Nasser Musbeh, 12 — prompted no media interest other than a couple of paragraphs which did not even bother to mention their names.
If this had been anywhere else in the world, the killing of seven young people, including children, at a peaceful protest would have grabbed the headlines, but they were killed in occupied Palestine, and their killers were Israelis. On the same day that the seven were killed, more than 500 other Palestinians in Gaza were wounded, with 210 needing hospital treatment. Imagine that happening in Europe or North America and the wall-to-wall news coverage we would have seen.
Among those injured were 35 children, four women, four paramedics and three journalists, whose fellow professional newsgatherers did not deem the violence used by Israel to disperse peaceful demonstrators to be worthy of their attention. Yet again, we have seen a shameful example of the racist news agenda as set by the Western media. Kill white folks in the US or Europe, and you will hit the headlines, but non-white lives don’t matter. The racist regime in Tel Aviv depends on this complementary racism to ignore its human rights abuses and brutal occupation of Palestinian land, and will continue to do so for as long as media scrutiny focuses elsewhere.
Despite the horrific toll on Friday, Gaza’s Great March of Return protests look set to continue with or without the fickle media in attendance. The peaceful protests were launched on 30 March, when thousands of ordinary people in Gaza headed for the nominal border with the Zionist State to demand their right of return as refugees; they have continued to do so every Friday since then, no matter how many are killed and wounded by Israeli snipers (at least 180 killed and more than 18,000 wounded to date, and counting). The message is loud and clear: they want their homeland back and insist on being allowed to fulfil their legitimate right. If nothing else, I am sure that Ahed Tamimi will take advantage of the media spotlight on herself to highlight the ongoing injustices that she and her people face every single day in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
Predictably, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman has taken to Twitter to decry Ahed’s visit to the world famous football club. “Real Madrid hosts a terrorist who incites hate and violence,” tweeted Emmanuel Nahson. “What does that have to do with football values!??!” Israel’s ambassador to Spain, Daniel Kutner, also criticised the club. “Ahed Tamimi does not fight for peace,” he claimed, “she defends violence and terror, the institutions that have received and celebrated her indirectly encourage aggression and not the dialogue and understanding that we need.”
While both of these men are keen to describe Ahed as a terrorist and vent their anger by saying that she does not represent peace, the occupation government that they represent continues to slaughter young men, women and children, including medics, with apparent impunity. Their words are examples of the sort of perverse doublespeak that we have come to expect from Israeli officials, aided and abetted by a craven media in thrall to the Zionist state and its sponsors.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.