Sometimes a murderer, sometimes a hero, just how the context requires

By : Ahmad Safi

On Blaming the Victim and Glorifying the Oppressor

A commentary on rescuing animals from a zoo in Gaza

Once “Gaza” is mentioned, the subject becomes more appetizing and attractive, tempting and exciting. When we combine a humanitarian issue like the rescue of wild animals from a zoo, we are now confronted with a whole range of excitement surrounding the oriental place, its violence and the blood that surrounds its stereotype.

It is necessary to bring up an ideal hero, free of defects, supernatural and legendary, or even a semi-fairy personality whose absence makes us  feel helplessness, and his existence of warmth and tranquility and even imagination. This hero’s presence carries a very important function centered on filling the void left behind by evil, and does things that ordinary people cannot do. It also contributes to the formation of collective thinking of people and carries their issues and leads them forward. But what if we are talking about heroes formed by a regime, carrying its image and logo on their clothes, and they even promote it despite of the many crimes that regime has committed.

Let us first agree that Gaza does not differ – in principle – from the rest of the world, but it has problems that are different from every other place. It has also what distinguishes it from other places, but it is still on Earth and did not separate spatially nor timely. Gaza’s circumstances since 13 years of the siege, coupled with three bloody wars that have destroyed everything that could be destroyed, made it different, as it became part of the global news bulletins.


Also, let us agree that there are no native lions in Gaza and that Gaza is not the original home of wild animals such as ostriches and others, and that all the animals in the zoo in Rafah were smuggled from Egypt through the tunnels. In fact, Egypt is one of the worst black markets in wildlife trade and smuggling, where everything happens away from any care for the animals, laws or supervision.

The video of the rescue of animals from the zoo in Rafah by a foreign institution tells us a heroic story that Gaza is blamed for placing animals in the zoo, and that the Israeli occupation army is one of the heroes in the rescue process, as it has facilitated the eviction of animals from Gaza- or rather it allowed them to leave Gaza.

Here we see the presence of hero or heroic story led by officers in an army of an occupying country, in the face of a group of bad guys – the Gazans – these mobs, whom are not governed by standards and ethics and rather work with a collective criminal thought and commit atrocities. This requires a lot of the hero to intervene to end it such as rescuing the weak and the liberation of the victims as well as liberating the oppressed from slavery, and, of course, remove the tyrant. There must also be an interesting geographical spot in its complexity in dealing with its topography to elevate the hero’s values ​​and attribute to it the mission impossible it has achieved. It is the vanguard of the concepts that begin to penetrate the human mind about its role and the good qualities it holds, which everyone has to support and provide. The Rafah Zoo and the Rescue Unit were the components of an exciting story that intrigues observers from around the world. “Amir” is an Egyptian employee of the international foundation was one of the heroes too, “Amir”, Arabic for Prince, a name suitable for the role of a hero of an Egyptian origin. However, it seems that Amir forgot to play this role in his country, in order to work to stop the problem from the roots and to prevent the smuggling of animals to Gaza from the beginning.  But Amir’s organization management does not want it this way as having Gaza as a vital part of the story generates more money, attracts more attention, and brings more fame. Gaza has an existing ideological system to which violence, crime and restriction of freedoms are attributed. Therefore, in the eyes of the ‘free world, fighting against this would be an achievement and even a great victory than if it were in another place.

We summarize the terms used in such a rescue story as “the hero saves” and “the hero freed” and the “hero helps and alliances with other heroes” who contributed to the success of his mission. So the representatives of the Foundation in Gaza came out with a short video in which they thanked each other and exchanged medals. It is disgusting that the Israeli army, which besieges 2 million people in 363 square km and so many animals, came out with a share of praise to this plot and were thanked by the international foundation for opening the crossing for the exit of animals.

We must make clear our position in the Palestinian Animal League that we are with the closure of all zoos everywhere in the world. A prison in good conditions cannot be considered more acceptable than a prison in bad conditions. We emphasize that animals were created to live in their environment and they are not here as a source of profit or entertainment, not in Gaza or conflict zones, or anywhere in the world.

The zoo in Rafah is not the only one in the world. We support closing it down and bless every step and everyone who has contributed financially, morally and support in this direction. We have been in direct contact with its management. We have records proving that Mr. Fathi Gomaa, owner of the zoo, contacted several institutions to take the animals due to his inability to afford them and he removed the claws of the cub in order to attract attention and bring attention to his cause, and to accelerate the negotiation of the amount of money for the rescue. We had already warned of the importance of not paying money for such deals, because this would encourage the acquisition and abuse of animals in order to bargain for money later on. We emphasize here that what happened in Rafah is the result of the mistakes made by the aforementioned international foundation itself in dealing with the story of the two lion cubs from the Shaboura refugee camp in Gaza. Is the goal of this foundation really to help animals and stop these practices as well as address the roots of the problem? Or does it only want to fundraise through rescuing animals that could have been saved by avoiding the smuggling into Gaza since the beginning.

Have we never asked ourselves: Why is Gaza besieged? Why are hundreds of species of food, fuel, or building materials prevented from entering Gaza or even some types of infant formula? The argument is always “dual use”. Why should the Israeli army have been present in this story? and can it be crowned and given a medal of humanity? It is just a process of beautifying its image in the world and such stories help with it.