Jenni Frazer
Jenni Frazer

Justice, injustice and fundamental humanity

Rushdi Abu Mokh praying at the grave of his mother who died two years before his release, last week. (Screenshot from Twitter via Jewish News.)
Rushdi Abu Mokh praying at the grave of his mother who died two years before his release, last week. (Screenshot from Twitter via Jewish News.)

Let me introduce you to Dr Ramy Abdu, a professor of law and finance who divides his time, according to his social media bio, between Gaza and Geneva. He’s the chair and founder of a couple of think tanks that look at the nexus between human rights and commerce. So we are looking at an educated person, right? 

But not every person possessed of a decent education is necessarily possessed of decent, humane instincts.

I raise Dr Abdu’s profile because of some highly emotive social media posts of his relating to a Palestinian who was filmed, sobbing with heartache, next to his mother’s grave. Rushdi Abu Mokh spent 35 years in an Israeli prison — but his mother died two years before his release last week.

Abu Mokh, to the horror of some commentators in Israel, was released and received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, northern Israel.

Dr Abdu relates Abu Mokh’s history thus: “In 1986, Abu Mokh was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly ‘plotting, with a cell of other people, to kidnap an Israeli soldier and transfer him to Syria’. The cell’s goal was to conduct a prisoner swap with Israel. But the mission failed, and the soldier was killed”.

Don’t you just love that use of the passive voice: “the soldier was killed”? Nothing to do with me, guv, it just happened while I wasn’t looking. You might even say Abu
Mokh was there but not involved – in fact, you might certainly say that, because he
repeatedly rejected having taken part in the soldier’s murder.

Funny, then, that Abu Mokh was widely recognised as one of the highest-paid recipients of monthly grants from the Palestinian Authority (PA), part of a controversial programme that honours those who carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis. 

Why, I wonder, would the PA shell out thousands of dollars over the years to someone who was an also-ran in a failed mission?

Let’s look at the victim. He was a 19-year-old young soldier who was caught by Abu Mokh’s gang, all members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They were all, also, Arab Israeli citizens. 

In 1984, the PFLP cell caught Moshe Tamam at the Netanya junction as he made his way home from his base. He was later killed near the West Bank city of Jenin.

But poor Tamam wasn’t simply kidnapped and killed. He was tortured, castrated and mutilated before his death. It took three days.

The cell members were caught and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986. Because, perhaps, he believed Abu Mokh’s insistence he had not taken part in the killing, in 2012 President Shimon Peres commuted his sentence, and his alone, to 35 years. 

With that action, some may say, he showed more humanity to Abu Mokh than Mokh and his band of murderous accomplices did to the unfortunate Moshe Tamam.

Now the bereaved and shocked Tamam family is calling for, at a minimum, Abu
Mokh’s Israeli citizenship to be revoked.  What happened to Moshe, their beloved son and cousin, is surely not less shocking than a mother failing to be reunited with her prisoner son?

Dr Abdu, obviously calling for denunciation of shocking Israeli “inhumanity”, and showing Abu Mokh weeping over his mother’s grave, has conveniently forgotten what happened to Moshe Tamam. 

If Abu Mokh had shown a scintilla of remorse over the fate of a teenage boy during his prison term, I might have a bit more sympathy. There is justice, injustice, and basic humanity. A bit more of that, and a bit more attention to the shortened life of Moshe Tamam, is what’s required here, not pictures of a sobbing ex-prisoner in a cemetery.

About the Author
Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
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