Amir-Abdel Malik Ali, with a smile of pride on his face, recounted the story of a Hamas militant from the Gaza offensive to a crowd at the flagpoles on Jan. 29.
“There was a story of one brother brought into a Gaza hospital who said, ‘Patch me up, I have to go back out,’ ” Ali shouted to his listeners. Someone proceeded to ask Ali, “How can you be smiling? Look at all the suffering that’s going on; look at what the people are going through.”
Ali responded, “If they have people that died in their families, they’re martyrs and they should be happy … I want to die the death of a martyr.” However, would Ali be so jubilant about Gazans being “martyred” if it was his mother or father who died in the recent offensive in Gaza?
Ali is a radical Muslim imam who has expressed his belief that the “Zionist Jew” controls the media and was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. He is often invited by the Muslim Student Union (MSU) to give lectures full of timeworn half-truths against the state of Israel at our campus. Over two weeks ago, Ali spoke at the flagpoles about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza prior to the Israeli Operation Cast Lead.
“The people of Gaza were being starved and economically strangled,” Ali insisted. “They had very little heating oil [and] no water … Although it was a manmade humanitarian disaster … where children were suffering from malnutrition, the world was not looking.”
Ali’s choice of words is correct because it is a “manmade humanitarian disaster.” However, like the majority of his speeches, he only touched on half of the story; he conveniently forgot to mention that Israel left everything standing in Gaza when it evicted its own residents in 2005; agricultural, educational, medical, urban facilities and miles and miles of some of the best greenhouses were left. It was only after Israel withdrew that everything was destroyed and rockets began to launch at Israel.
Ali also forgot to mention that Hamas, Gaza’s terrorist sham of a government, has been seizing donations and aid meant for the Palestinians in order to sell them to their rightful recipients at higher prices. In fact, just last week a group of Hamas militants stole 4,000 food parcels and blankets from a United Nation’s storehouse in Gaza because the U.N. workers were distributing it to Gaza residents, not to Hamas itself.
Ali also left out the fact that Hamas has a habit of attempting to blow up the bridges Israel uses to send in humanitarian aid to the very people trying to destroy Israel. So yes, it is a “manmade humanitarian crisis.” It is unfortunate that the Palestinians don’t have a better way of life, but it cannot be denied that in many ways the crisis was and still is perpetuated by the Palestinians’ own corrupt government.
“Those Qassams,” Ali began to shout in reference to the rockets Hamas launches at Israeli civilian neighborhoods, “the only reason [Hamas] stopped them … was because the Israelis stopped their attack.” However, he neglected to bring up the past eight years of unprovoked Hamas rocket fire (and until recently, eight years of Israeli restraint) on southern Israeli towns such as Sderot, where civilian life has been smeared with daily rocket attacks. Over one-third of Sderot’s children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result. But you won’t hear any of that from Ali.
Playing the “Israel used a disproportionate response” card, Ali said, “All you have to do is count how many quote-unquote casualties occurred when those rockets went into Israel … and the number caused by Israeli weaponry.”
Let’s pretend for a second that Hamas doesn’t attack strategically worthless targets like preschools and apartment buildings, that they don’t launch their rockets from civilian-crowded mosques and schools or that they don’t hide behind Palestinian civilians when attacking Israeli civilians or engaging Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Let’s pretend they don’t dress up as civilians during firefights and when they launch rockets. Ignoring all of that and ignoring what logically follows when you knowingly attack a technologically superior nation, it sounds like what Ali is trying to say is that he’d be happier if there were more Israeli casualties to even out the body count.
When speaking about Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Fatah (the relatively moderate Palestinian government in the West Bank) and Abbas’s call to make peace with Israel, Ali stressed, “Do not be fooled by Mahmoud Abbas. He is a poop-butt Uncle Tom sell-out.” Without irony, Ali ended his rant with the phrase, “Peace be upon you.”
After witnessing many of Ali’s speeches on campus, it is evident that he is head-over-heels in love with the image of the rebel. He thrives off the idea of “the struggle,” so much that he’ll contort the facts enough to keep that struggle going and spread his propaganda at the expense of constructive dialogue.
Ali cannot be taken seriously when he condemns Israeli violence while simultaneously praising Palestinian violence. As his grown-up insult of Abbas shows us, he even despises the idea of a peaceful end to the conflict. His lectures are in no way concerned with the complexities of such a heated conflict, so it must be concluded that he does not want a lasting peace in the Middle East.
And yet, the MSU continues to invite him back, year after year.
Ali’s so-called lectures are not a sharing of facts. They are merely a circus show of half-truths, propaganda, religious and racial hatred and extremism. The current Palestinian situation is awful, nobody denies that. But it’s not going to end by idolizing a group like Hamas, who abuse its own people and use times of peace to prepare to launch more violence. Ali’s hate-mongering does not allow for peace as an option; it sees it as a weakness. It’s a struggle to the bitter end for people like him.
His 2006 statement, “We will fight you. We will fight you until we are martyred or until we are victorious,” unfortunately leaves little room for debate. For those of us who want to continue to believe that a peaceful resolution is a viable option, Ali is not a source for facts, pragmatic solutions or constructive discourse.
AE Anteater is a third-year English major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion