MADRID—‘’Ahed Tamimi is not a peaceful fighter but an advocate of violence and terror. The institutions that received and celebrated her indirectly encourage aggression and not dialogue and understanding that we need,’’ said Israel’s Ambassador to Spain Daniel Kutner after top Spanish football club Real Madrid honored the Palestinian activist.
Tamimi, on a visit to Spain with her family, was received at famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the Spanish capitral on Saturday just before the club played a match against local rival Atletico Madrid. She was presented her with a Real Madrid jersey with her first name printed on the back.
The visit in Spain, preceded by a visit to France, included several political events where Ahed Tamimi was scheduled to speak on “the Palestinian resistance movement” and her experiences in Israeli prison.
In December 2017, she was detained for slapping an Israeli army soldier.She was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of assault. Her mother also was jailed for incitement for filming her daughter with a cellphone camera calling on her fellow Palestinians to stab Israelis, throw rocks at them and offer themselves as suicide bombers in order to “liberate Palestine” and posting it on social media. Both were released last July.
In a tweet, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon criticized Ahed Tamimi’s visit. ‘’The prestigious soccer club of Real Madrid embraces a terrorist inciting to hatred and violence. Shameful,” he wrote.
World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer sent a letter to Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid, and José Ángel Sánchez, the club CEO, to voice concern over the invitation to Tamimi and the honor she received.
In the letter, Singer wrote: ‘’Ahed Tamimin has openly called for the destruction of Israel. Just last week, on a visit in France, Tamimi said: ‘The goal [of the ‘Palestinian cause’]is not only to remove the Israeli community near Nabi Saleh, our goal is the large-scale settlement, which is Israel.’’
‘’Honoring an individual with such an extreme outlook and track record sends a distinct and disconcerting message that Real Madrid has chosen the to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’’ he added.
“There is no place for xenophobia and the promotion of violence in sports, nor is there room for political extremism. Jewish and Israeli supporters of Real Madrid should not have to feel alienated, simply by virtue of the fact that the club that they love has chosen to identify with an individual who espouses an ideology of hatred.
“Anti-Israeli sentiments have become synonymous with antisemitism. Any move to propel these sentiments runs an incredibly dangerous risk of encouraging antisemitism, and this cannot be accepted,’’ Singer said.