The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
11 August 2015
By Ramzy Baroud
One-and-a-half year old Ali Saad Dawabsha became the latest victim of Israeli
violence on July 31. He was burnt to death. Other members of his family were
also severely burnt in a Jewish settlers' attack on their home in the village
of Duma, near Nablus, in the West Bank.
A spokesman for Rabbis for Human Rights told Al Jazeera Arabic that this is
the tenth attack on Nablus by settlers in July. A statement issued by the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) provided an even more alarming
statistic, putting the number of Jewish settlers' attacks, some of them
lethal, at an estimated 11,000 since 2004.
Ali Dawabsha is not the first Palestinian child to be burnt to death,
although the story of Mohamed Abu Khdeir who was tortured and burnt alive by
a group of Jewish extremists in July 2014 now serves as a hideous benchmark
for Israeli settler violence, which is often conducted under the watchful eye
of – or as part of larger violent campaign led by – the Israeli army.
Despite Israeli political theater and statements of condemnations following
Abu Khdeir's grisly murder, Israeli violence against Palestinians is part and
parcel of Israel's Occupation policy, draped in numerous crimes gone
Little Ali is no different from the 490 Palestinians killed in Israel's last
summer war on Gaza, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians.
The Dawabsha family home, which was completely burnt, (while Ali's mother,
father and brother, Ahmed, all sustained serious burns) was no different from
the 20,000 Gaza homes which, according to the UN,were destroyed during the
Israeli carnage in the Strip.
The West Bank and Gaza, despite physical separation and Palestinian
factionalism, are united by a rapport of suffering and a trail of blood that
proves stronger than the Hamas-Fatah dispute. They are also united in the
perception of Israel, which sees Ali and all Palestinian toddlers as a
demographic threat to the ‘Jewish identity' of the state.
In its statement, the PLO held Israel ‘fully responsible' for Ali's murder
and the burning of his family and their home. The "brutal assassination" of
Ali is "a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli
Government to settler terrorism," said PLO Official, Saeb Erekat.
Of course, the statement is accurate, and if these words were uttered by
anyone other than the ‘Chief Negotiator' of the Palestinian Authority (PA),
one could have taken them seriously. Alas, such statements only highlight the
duplicity and contradiction of the official Palestinian position. In fact,
one cannot help but feel that the PA is partly responsible for Ali's death.
The reasons are as follows.
Israel's impunity is encouraged by many factors, including US-Western backing
and the lack of international will to hold Israel – Government, army and
settlers – accountable for their crimes. But that impunity is also encouraged
by the Palestinian leadership itself, which lives in a massive political and
economic bubble in Ramallah, in the West Bank.
Erekat is a resident in the Ramallah bubble. His job consists of two main
aspects: to sustain the charade using all the right sounding words, that the
PA and Israel are locked in some sort of a perpetual conflict (although they
are not) while concurrently working closely with Israel to ensure the
survival of the PA.
The PA cannot exist without Israeli support, as Israel's military Occupation
and illegal settlement expansion cannot be sustained without the security arm
of the PA, which has suppressed any serious resistance to Israel in the West
Bank. Using ‘security coordination', the PA apprehends any Palestinian who
dares pose a threat, real or imagined, to the Israeli occupation and the
In other words, the PA helps in ensuring the safety of the settlers, like
those who killed Ali and many others like him.
Naturally, facing little or no resistance, the settlements are growing. The
latest planned expansion was just announced by Israeli Prime Minister,
Benjamin Netanyahu, who plans to construct hundreds of new illegal settlement
homes on confiscated Palestinian land, in the Jewish settlements of Pisget
Ze'ev, Ramot, Gilo and Harhoma in Jerusalem.
In his statement, Erekat did not forget to link the murder of Ali: "We cannot
separate the barbaric attack that took place in Duma last night from the
recent settlement approval by the Israeli Government, a Government which
represents an Israeli national coalition for settlements and Apartheid."
But he, along with his boss, Mahmoud Abbas, intends to do nothing about it.
On the contrary, despite his and other PA officials' fiery statements, the
constant message the PA, in actuality, sends to Israel is that Palestinians
are okay with the status quo, and business will carry on as usual, burnt
babies or not.
Consider this as an example: the PA Central Council voted in March to halt
negotiations and security coordination with Israel. The decision, meant for
public consumption mostly, hardly mattered, as top PA officials, including
Erekat himself, held recent ‘secret' talks with Israeli Government officials
in Amman, Jordan.
According to Tayseer Khalid of the "Democratic Front for the Liberation of
Palestine", speaking to Ma'an, "Sadly the PLO Executive Committee and
Palestinian leaders know about such meetings only from the Israeli media."
‘Sadly', indeed, especially since the Amman meeting was designated as a
‘trust-building' strategy (a clue that America had a hand in it), and which
included Erekat and Israeli Interior Minister, Silvan Shalom.
But that is, in fact, the actual PA strategy in all of its deficiencies and
contradictions. The cornerstone of that strategy is to sell as many brands,
no matter how conflicting, to different groups of people for the sake of
self-preservation. Erekat is, perhaps, often the scapegoat, since he is the
most visible face of the PA apparatus but numerous others, too, are
implicated in selling mirages to the Palestinian people, while taking part in
preserving the very violent occupation that is destroying Palestinian
society, robbing it of land, water, and dignity.
A few hours after Ali's murder, PA officials were scheduled to line up in
Ramallah, in front of Abbas, as four new ministers were being sworn in. The
revamping of the so-called unity government took place without the approval
of Hamas, thus hammering the last nail in the Palestinian Unity coffin which
never actualized, to begin with.
The four new ministers, who ultimately have no real authority under the rule
of the Israeli Occupation, will read al-Fatiha (verses of the Quran) on the
soul of Palestine's latest ‘hero martyr', little Ali. A real or fake tear by
one or more officials might be highlighted in the Ramallah media to
accentuate the emotional bond between the Ramallah bubble and all
Palestinians. The charade will carry on for a few more months or years, where
the PA will fight against the Occupation using every word available, and
fight for the occupation using every means available.
This is the sad tale of the Palestinian leadership and its Ramallah bubble,
which is yet to burst.
– Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20
years. He is author of several books and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).