Tuesday, April 02, 2019

02-Apr-19: Setting facts, ethics, context aside, Al Jazeera salutes a couple of murderers

Mr and Mrs Tamimi at home in Jordan's capital Amman,
in a video segment embedded in the Al Jazeera homage
In Arabic only (so far), Aljazeera published a paean this past week to a pair of convicted and unrepentant terrorists sentenced by Israel to life-term prison sentences for killing many Israelis.

The two are not merely out of prison but, from what we can tell, live a highly public and comfortable life replete with exposure, celebrity, adulation and valuable political connections that seem to help smooth their way.

Al Jazeera Media Network whose chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani served as a minister in Qatar's government in the eighties and nineties and who is a member of the ruling family of Qatar, the House of Thani, is a formidable communications conglomerate owned by the government of Qatar. It has some 80 bureaux and more than 100,000 employees distributed around the world.

This particular piece was published on the AlJazeera.net site last Thursday and so far has appeared only in Arabic. While the group publishes in multiple languages including English, Turkish, Indonesian, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, the AlJazeera.net platform is specifically dedicated to Arabic speakers.

Because we think it shines some much-needed light on how Arab-on-Israeli terror is viewed in much of the Arabic-speaking world, we arranged a professional translation. The text appears below. 

A word for those uncomfortable with violence and bloodshed: Rest assured. Though this is all about a couple of unrepentant convicted felons, people who murdered other people and have never expressed regret for their deeds, and while one might expect some unpleasant discussion about killings and deaths - actually there isn't that much. Hardly any.

In fact, what violence there is happens to be about Israelis threatening (they say) and killing other people (they allege). We'll come back to that counter-intuitive aspect at the end.
Political News
Nizar and Ahlam: A couple pursued by “chains” despite their release from occupation imprisonment
March 28, 2019 | Aljazeera.net | From Mahmoud Al-Shar’aan in Amman 
They became engaged in the prisons of Israeli occupation. They were released in the prisoner exchange deal of 2011 known as the “Wafaa’ Al-Ahrar deal” between the Palestinian Resistance Movement (HAMAS) and the occupation. [TOW: In the West, it's better known as the Gilad Shalit Deal]  
Their relationship led to marriage and the establishment of a Palestinian house of “resistance” in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
They are the freed prisoners Nizar Al-Tamimi (45) and his wife Ahlam Al-Tamimi (38) who was born in Jordan. 
The bond of marriage was not the only thing they shared. They were also brought together by the defence of Palestine and the sacrifice they gave towards the struggle through the years they spent in prison.
Nizar, who belongs to the Palestinian Liberation Movement (Fatah) was sentenced to life in prison after he participated in the killing of an Israeli citizen in the nineties of which he served 20 years before he was released. 
Ahlam on the other hand was the first woman to have joined the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. She was sentenced to 16 life sentences after she participated in a martyrdom operation against the occupation of Jerusalem in 2001, of which she served 10 years before she was released.
A new life
Their many years spent in prison have not killed the normal life of these freed prisoners as they both are pursuing their education, each in his own field. 
The husband is preparing for his Masters thesis [sic] in political science with the title “The law of Jewish nationalism and its effect on the reality and future of the Palestinian cause”, while the wife is preparing to study towards her Masters thesis [sic] in Journalism and Media under the title “A theoretical etymology of the concept of prisoner media”.
Nizar tells Aljazeera.net that freedom was like a new birth for them both after having spent many tough years in jail. “We were able to come out of prison strong, and more importantly we are still bearers of the message of truth when it comes to our just cause, and we have begun a new life”.
But the lives of the couple were thrown into disarray after they received messages threatening to pursue them and to lay cases against them in the United States.
The last case of these threats came in the words of the American peace process delegate to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, who wrote on his official Twitter account that “Americans must know that Ahlam Al-Tamimi who is a Hamas terrorist convicted of killing 15 people, seven of whom were children killed in cold blood, is living free today”.
Greenblatt announced a reward of the equivalent of 5 million dollars to anyone who can provide information on Ahlam Al-Tamimi and the Hamas leader, Saleh Al Aruri.
Continuous threats
Greenblatt’s threats were not new. They are a part of a long chain of threats received by Ahlam and her husband. It was revealed to Aljazeera.net that Jewish organizations paid to lay cases against them in American courts of law.
Ahlam identifies herself as a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin who is a freedom fighter for a just cause. “I refuse to allow my cause and the cause of my nation to be labelled as terrorism or that the door be opened to some representatives trying to make political gains to pass whatever they want under the cover of their mission”.
The freed prisoner regards her being in Jordan to be a point of strength as there is no agreement between Amman and Washington that states that wanted people need to be handed over. In addition, the Jordanian judicial authorities refused a previous American demand for her to be handed over.
She is asking the Kingdom to protect her from American hegemony and the continuing threats against her, and to solve her crisis with the United States “politically”.
Ahlam does not deny her fears of the financial reward offered by Greenblatt, because the involvement of money in this case might facilitate passing information on her or that the matter might even reach assassination, as she says.
At the same time, her husband is of the view that once a prisoner is released from prison, he remains a target of Israel, and he can therefore never really feel total calm as other prisoners have been killed after they were released from prison, as he says.
A house of resistance
Between four walls, the couple spend time telling stories and reliving the memories of prison life, of Palestine and of comrades in struggle. The best years of their lives were taken from them by Israeli courts and prison bars. This however did not prevent them from trying to live normally and defend their rights in a clear message that is not open for discussion, the summary of which says that there is no conceding the entirety of Palestine.
Nizar, the son of Fatah, and Ahlam, the daughter of Hamas, are the embodiment of the reality of a unified Palestinian people, in the wake of division which they described as an exception to the rule. They have spent their lives together with many ideas, some of which were conflicting, but they both always agree in the end that there is no way to liberate Palestine except through resistance and that it is the only way to achieve it.
Source: Aljazeera (Arabic) online here. In case it somehow disappears, we arranged for it to be  archived here.

A few observations.
  • The only violence mentioned in this brazen homage is violence they claim is directed at - not by - the Tamimis, a pair of unrepentant murderers. As journalism goes, this is exceedingly shabby. Are there ethical standards in the Al Jazeera media empire? What are they?
  • Seriously, is it true as they claim here that "there is no agreement between Amman and Washington that states that wanted people need to be handed over"? No, not really. We explained that here: "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?" Bottom line: Jordan and the US signed an extradition treaty 24 years ago; the US absolutely considers it still valid and in full effect and Jordan has never complained to its American treaty partners that there is a problem with it. In fact, Jordan has cheerfully handed over Jordanian felons to the US at the request of the US. But it refuses to hand over Ahlam Tamimi. It justifies this on the contentious footing that there is now a Jordanian constitutional law issue to consider. They don't say, but we think they should, that Tamimi is different from the others already extradited because she killed Israelis. Note that none of this seems to be known to the Al Jazeera editors and their reporter. Or perhaps they simply have no interest in conveying what they know to their news consumers. So it's either shameful pretense or it's professional incompetence.
  • The reporter claims that "the lives of the couple were thrown into disarray after they received messages threatening to pursue them and to lay cases against them in the United States." This is pure invention. Ahlam Tamimi is wanted on US Federal charges that were unsealed in Washington on March 14, 2017 (see the previous para). There are no charges pending against her husband, but it adds an element of extra drama to the story. A great pity, seriously, that it's bunk.
  • Did Ahlam Tamimi hurt anyone? Hard to know from this piece of shameless advocacy and terror promotion. All that the Al Jazeera journalist and his editors want their Arabic-language readers to know is that this Jordanian woman was locked away for a tremendously long prison term because "she participated in a martyrdom operation against the occupation of Jerusalem". Is it even worth mentioning that 16 people were murdered in that "operation"? That Tamimi picked the spot because it attracted so many children and brought the bomb to it at the busiest time of the day? That this savage boasts openly and happily about it in front of cameras and live audiences? That the panel of judges who sentenced her recommended that Israel never consider letting her out under any circumstances or deals? And that they were ignored when the Shalit Deal was done? We guess not.
  • Did she reveal that she's now pursuing a masters degree in journalism and media? We think (and we're checking so that we can be sure) that only a couple of Jordanian institutions offer such programs. One happens to be a school about which we have written in the past, and which has an extremely shabby connection to Tamimi herself: See "By their role models shall ye know them" [Times of Israel, December 2014]. 
  • The Tamimis claim to have "received messages threatening to pursue them and to lay cases against them in the United States". Other than as another invented dramatic device, this notion of threats doesn't make much sense. The reporter could have mentioned that the US Department of Justice unveiled those serious criminal charges against Ahlam Tamimi more than two years ago ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and extradition is sought"]. He could have pointed out she was arrested in Jordan by Jordanian police on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice in September 2016 (with absolutely no publicity), but he doesn't. She was released the following morning but that says more about Jordan and its legal and power system than about the criminality of Ahlam Tamimi. Maybe he doesn't know. Maybe he already forgot. Maybe this isn't really about facts and news but about fantasies and delusions of Tamimi victimhood. But how is this journalism?
  • The reporter and his editors are under the mistaken impression that Trump envoy Jason "Greenblatt announced a reward of the equivalent of 5 million dollars to anyone who can provide information on Ahlam Al-Tamimi". No, he didn't. The reward, which certainly does exist, was issued more than a year before Greenblatt mentioned it in his Tweet. And it doesn't come from Greenblatt but from a unit of the US State Department called Rewards for Justice. The year-and-a-half-old details for the Al Jazeera news-hounds are here (you're welcome): "31-Jan-18: There's now a $5 million reward for bringing the terrorist Ahlam Tamimi to justice". Can we now expect a correction? Or do Al Jazeera's people claim ownership of their own version of reality?
  • It's quite moving to read that "The best years of [the Tamimi couple's] lives were taken from them by Israeli courts and prison bars". Taken from them? Why? But it's chilling that the editors of this Al Jazeera group outlet manage to tell the story of two unusually cruel murderers without even a passing reference to the many lives they extinguished by their acts of depraved savagery. They give the impression that they identify with the killers and the killings. Is this fair of us? But if we're right (of course we are), do their pay-masters in the government of Qatar know this? Perhaps they will now. Perhaps they will even want to know about the life and lost "best years" of our desperately missed daughter Malki who was 15 when Ahlam Tamimi delivered her exploding guitar case on the back of her human bomb to Sbarro. (Full disclosure: Malki was not the only person murdered there that day. It was a massacre. In a pizzeria. Children were the target; they ended up being more than half the casualties. Tamimi's sickening, satanic plan worked. She hasn't stopped smiling and boasting about it.)  
  • When Al Jazeera quotes Nizar Tamimi asserting that "other [Palestinian Arab] prisoners have been killed after they were released from prison", did they check? Can they bring cases? As a news agency, did they think of listing the names of the many mass murderers [some named here along with their crimes] who walked free in that catastrophic transaction? Did they think of referring to the Israelis murdered after the Shalit Deal [some of them named here] by unrepentant terrorists who were let loose?
  • The Al Jazeera editors, aware of the endless enmity among the Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad factions, must have seen the almost humorous irony in their reporter claiming the Tamimis as "the embodiment of the reality of a unified Palestinian people". Unified? They must have already decided this scurrilous piece of reporting-as-incitement needed to serve a higher purpose than the objective reporting of news. So what the heck - go for broke. 
  • Will the major news organizations and global content aggregators who partner with Al Jazeera (like GoogleBloombergTechLiveSnapchatbe interested to know how the party they're consorting with acts as an active and effective promoter of terrorism that publishes sentiments like Ahlam Tamimi's "there is no way to liberate Palestine except through resistance"? Probably not. The rest of us surely should.
This reward poster in Arabic was issued by the US State
Department in January 2018 but has never been physically
posted anywhere in Jordan or the Arab world.
In the interests of seeming balanced, and having regard for the monumental media footprint the Al Jazeera empire has managed to create, here's what the public relations professionals working at Al Jazeera said about their employer a year ago:
We, at Al Jazeera, renew our commitment to global audiences with news coverage and programs which provide in depth analysis of news and current affairs. We will continue celebrating the achievements brought by our diversity of staff who hail from almost 100 different countries. It is this diversity of values and cultures that enriches our work and provides our audiences with the award-winning content on all our platform. We urge democratic forces all over the world, especially in United States, to stand with free media institutions to promote and protect the values of democracy, liberty, human rights, freedom of media and the right to free speech. Don’t shoot the messenger, journalism is not a crime.
Maybe they don't mean their Arabic output. And when the subject is this thing they call "resistance", perhaps different rules apply.

UPDATE Monday April 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm: The Al Jazeera piece includes a substantial video interview which is of course not in English. We have just been told by friends (thank you, friends!) that MEMRI has posted a translation. Please go and read, watch and share - it's here.

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