Transition From Terrorist to Gandhian Figure Will Not Wash
Get ready for the onslaught of sympathetic media coverage for Maher al-Akhras, who is approximately 80 days into a hunger strike against the powers that be in Israel. He had recently appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court for release from Israeli custody, but the court ruled against him. Given that most hunger strikers die sometime after 60 days into their strike, it’s reasonable to conclude that al-Akhras will soon die.
His death will be a fruitless tragedy that could have been avoided if Palestinian elites had negotiated in good faith with Israel at numerous points over the past few decades, but they didn’t. Barring some miracle or change of heart by al-Akhras, his death seems inevitable.
Predictably, al-Akhras, who is currently in an Israeli hospital, has been lionized in all the usual places — Al Jazeera, 972, and Mondoweiss — for his Gandhian protest against the evils of the Jewish state. In the event of his death, there’s a good chance that Western media outlets, which have largely ignored his plight, will seize on his case to generate clicks from the anti-Israel crowd and to demonize Israel just as growing numbers of Arab leaders conclude that using Israel as a unifying political agenda is a losing strategy.
The Palestinian elites haven’t gotten the memo, nor have their Palestinian Christian stooges in Bethlehem. And pro-Palestinian activists in the West haven’t gotten the memo either.
If Western media outlets take up al-Akhras’ cause, their audiences need to remember one thing: the man is a terrorist. While his wife denies that he’s a member of Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, media outlets affiliated with that organization and Hamas did, at the time of his previous arrest in 2018, describe him as a “commander,” a phrase they regularly use to refer to active members of their organizations.
Allowing al-Akhras to drape himself in the flag of Gandhian non-violence will be profoundly irresponsible given that his coffin will be draped with the flag of a terrorist organization responsible for 30 murderous suicide bombings in the Holy Land.
There are images on the internet of al-Akhras posing before an Islamic Jihad flag and wearing a matching scarf. And just to seal the verdict, Islamic Jihad has told reporters that it is losing its “patience” and will retaliate against Israel in the event of his death.
Threats like this reveal that al-Akhras’s hunger strike is just another example of how “nonviolent” protests are used to disseminate propaganda that is subsequently used to justify violence against innocent civilians. In the Holy Land, and elsewhere, peaceful protests are oftentimes propagandistic preludes to terror attacks. Sadly, too many “peace” activists in the West have proven themselves willing partners in broadcasting this propaganda.
It will be interesting to see if groups like Churches for Middle East Peace, the World Council of Churches and mainline Protestant churches in the US jump on the bandwagon in the event of al-Akhras’ death and portray him as a 21st century incarnation of Gandhi.
Al-Akhras’ hunger strike is playing out just as growing number of Arab leaders recognize that their ongoing hostility toward Israel has been a fruitless waste of time and that it is time to accept the right of Jews to live in peace as a sovereign people in their homeland.
Seeking the destruction of Israel is simply not a cause worth dying for.
Sadly, it’s a lesson that al-Akhras may never learn.
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA.