Israeli gov’t used my image for propaganda purposes without my consent

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On September 9, the Israeli agency for Coordination of Government Activities in the (Palestinian) Territories, or COGAT, posted the photograph below, aimed at proving that Palestinian students are freely leaving Gaza for opportunities abroad. “It wrote: LIVE: 65 students exit #Gaza to study abroad #LikeEveryMonth.” The student in the propaganda photo saw it and wrote a response. She has allowed us to publish it. –Editors.

My response to COGAT’s photo of me as I crossed Erez from Gaza

Not only was I shocked to see the Israeli “Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories” photo of myself on their facebook post, but even more disgusted by the fact they have used it to make a claim that is 100% false. This is ME in this picture- the Palestinian woman.

Mukarram AbuAlouf (left) leaving Gaza by Erez Crossing, in Israeli propaganda photo
Mukarram AbuAlouf (left) leaving Gaza by Erez Crossing, in Israeli propaganda photo

And yes, I did get out of the Gaza Strip through The Israeli Erez Checkpoint on December, 29th 2014 which was eight months ago. The laugh I have on my face is a laugh out of fear and indeed it was a miracle the photographer caught that moment given the ordeal I had just been through. I spent the entire time extremely scared as the checkpoint was full of Israeli soldiers with their advanced weapons, knowing full well they controlled our entire lives. I was thinking to myself that they can shoot me in the blink of an eye and I will be just another number of the Palestinian body count, killed by Israel and forgotten by the outside world. So I was indeed relieved just to get through and experience those extra steps of momentary freedom that nearly all of my people in Gaza are never permitted to take. Especially given that I had already lived through the three Israeli assaults from 2008-2015 against the Gaza Strip that had their own impact on me and my family. Too scared to focus, I even lost my wallet that had my I-20 in it, and without the I-20 that comes along with the visa I could not travel to the USA to join the university – I actually got stuck in Amman-Jordan for two weeks. This created other complications and obstacles for me. I lost a lot of other personal items at the checkpoint and who wouldn’t, with the kind of nerves that anyone would have traveling abroad for the first time and facing up close the guns and soldiers who had long denied me my freedom and spent the whole of last summer massacring my people.

On the day I left Gaza through Erez, I was planning to spend a few days in Ramallah with my uncle and his family, but I was not allowed. Eventually, I found out that we were a group of students (who had got their scholarships through the PLO – unlike me) who had received coordination from the Palestinian Authority to ONLY pass through present-day Israel directly to Amman. Luckily, I was included in this group because I had the American F1 student visa and a visa to Jordan. This and the fact I had frequently applied to get a permit and been rejected so they just let me through. For many others, places abroad are dashed for Palestinians just as deserving of their placement abroad. In the end, we got on a bus, were driven directly to Amman and had a police car from the Israeli government right behind us for the entire journey until we got to the Jordanian crossing.

This picture was published WITHOUT my consent and is an example of how the camera lies. But what do I expect from an occupation that evolved into a state that was built on manipulation, aggression, lies and the destruction of other peoples’ lives?

To imprison and kill us with the world watching – we are used to this. To use us as photo opportunities to falsely present Israel’s treatment of us as kind, is an even greater insult.

Mukarram AbuAlouf

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Such a friendly photo — Muslim girl and presumably-Jewish Israeli soldier girl, both smiling, soldier wearing the star-and-bars of Israel (not the star-of-david alone).

But even if the smiles were both genuine, what does it prove, and to whom?

(I’m so old-fashioned and out-of-touch. I just don’t understand the new “social media”. Maybe a photo like this is worth 10,000 words to the hasbaristas.)

This reminds me of the photo the IDF put on Twitter during the Gaza war showing a soldier giving water to a blind old woman. “Look, see how moral we are!” A few days later someone in Gaza put up a picture of her shot dead.

And, no, the IDF did not include THAT one on their Twitter feed.

I can understand Ms. Abu Alouf’s objections to the use of the photo without her consent.
But that doesn’t mean that the image is false: she had, indeed, passed through the checkpoint on her way to America and her smile reflects her relief . The Israeli is apparently a junior officer, who appears to be unarmed, and dragging a suitcase . Her own? Assisting Ms, AbuAlouf or someone else? Hard to tell…

Israel does have a nasty reputation of doing things without consent. Netanyahu invited himself to speak in congress against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran without consent, they have an on going military occupation going on without consent, they steal land and build illegal settlements without consent, they control the drinking water and sell it back to the previous Palestinian owners without consent, and interfere in our affairs without consent. They are such an arrogant and… Read more »

Excellent piece Mukarram! Thank you for writing. I’m glad you were able to get where you wanted to go (“where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…”). Welcome to the U.S.! Obviously there are many problems here. But at this site we’re all (most anyway…) aware of our country’s facilitation in the occupation of Palestine and the abuse of your people there (and here…). But hopefully you are enjoying yourself and are finding that there… Read more »