Bassam Tamimi, the Palestinian propagandist who has made a name for himself by using his children as props in regular confrontations with Israeli soldiers, has been on tour in the United States for the past few weeks.
On Wednesday, October 7, he performed at the Friends Meeting House in Cambridge, Massachusetts — telling a tale of Israeli villainy and violence, countered by Palestinian innocence and peace. His talk was at odds with the recent spate of murders in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which have left at least four Israeli Jews dead and a number of children without their parents.
These attacks (which took place after a series of incendiary comments from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) went unacknowledged and unlamented at Tamimi’sevent.
When Tamimi was done talking, audience members competed with one another in an orgy of moral preening, narcissism and virtue signaling. “As an American and a Jew, I’m sorry and I apologize for what’s done in our name,” one audience member said to a round of applause.
The overall narrative Tamimi offered was one in which Palestinians are committed to non-violence, but have to resist the occupation —the source of all their suffering.
Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is the problem in the story Tamimi told. In order for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end, there must be a one-state solution with a right of return for the Palestinians, Tamimi said. When asked if the inhabitants of Tamimi’s village, Nabi Saleh, have reason to fear encroachments from settlers who live nearby in the West Bank, Tamimi stated, “Israel is a big settlement.” This response elicited laughter and applause from the audience.
According to Tamimi,Israeli soldiers are cruel oppressors, and are engaged in a silent genocide against the Palestinian people. Tamimi spoke of a confrontation at the Qalandia Checkpoint, where 400 Palestinians tried to get past Israel security officials. Of these 400 people, he claimed that 70 percent were shot in the leg with 22 millimeter rubber bullets, and of these, another 70 percent suffered paralyzed feet as a result of their injuries.
“It’s a constant punishment,” he said.
Tamimi leveled the predictable charge of genocide and ethnic cleansing at Israel, which, he argued, uses theHolocaust as an excuse for its actions.
“They become sick,” he said. “They can’t feel the Palestinian suffering because of the Holocaust. They can’t recognize they’re terrorists against the Palestinians because it’s less than Hitler. The Israelis kill the Palestinians with 22-millimeter bullets but do not put them into ovens,” he said. “For that they are different.”
After Tamimi’s talk, the organizers took two collections to give money to cover the medical costs of people in Nabi Saleh. The first time the basket was passed, a total of $1,471 dollars was collected. It was passed a second time in an effort to get the amount up to a round number of $1,500. “Cambridge can do better,” the organizer stated.
The collection prompted a question from the audience – could Tamimi actually bring the money back to the West Bank? Wouldn’t the Israeli government stop him from bringing the money back home?
“If the amount is less than $5,000, it’s OK,” he said.
During the question-and-answer period, one member of the audience asked if the Palestinians understand just how biased American media are towardsIsrael.
“We know the Zionists want to bully the media here, but social media gives us an alternative,” Tamimi said to applause and the snapping of fingers. The fact that Israel’s supporters were unable to stop the Iran nuclear deal is a source of hope for many Palestinians, he added.
Tamimi also accused Israel of using the violence surrounding the Al Aqsa Mosque to frame its conflict with the Palestinians in religious terms. Nevertheless, the conflict does fuel religious extremism elsewhere in the Middle East, he argued.