“Israel released Ahed Tamimi full of health and without a scratch
,” wrote Syrian activist and photographer Yasser Wardh, contrasting her leaving prison “while thousands of Palestinians are killed in prisons of the Assad regime.”
Nedal al-Amari, a journalist from Deraa, also contrasted the brutality of the Syrian regime with Tamimi’s treatment, tweeting: “The difference between Israel and Bashar Assad. Ahed Tamimi lucky girl because it was in Israel’s prisons, not Assad’s prisons.”
Dozens of similar tweets in Arabic mentioned her alleged “9 kilos” weight gain. “She was not tortured. She was not raped. Her weight increased by nearly 9 kilos. Her hair and face are more beautiful,” wrote Mahdi Majeed.
Iman Kais, who has 100,000 followers on Twitter, also contrasted Tamimi’s experience with Arab prisons. “She says she learned to love life, whereas those imprisoned in our Arab countries can reach a stage where they wish their mother didn’t give birth to them.”
Many tweeted photos of Tamimi next to a dead Syrian woman, trying to draw attention to the difference. “If people in Deraa and the south were detained by the Zionist occupation and they come out 9 kilos more, instead of arrested by the Assad occupation every day a list of the souls of the martyrs, more than 3,000 now,” one wrote.
This was a reference to the thousands of names of those murdered in Assad’s prisons. The regime has recently released lists of those who have disappeared or been killed in the last seven years, many of whom died in prison.
Dr. Edy Cohen of Bar-Ilan University, an expert in inter-Arab relations, also wrote on Facebook on July 29 that Tamimi’s weight had increased 9 kilos in prison. “I wish Arab countries to release their detainees and see their situation reach the health of Tamimi,” he noted in Arabic. He shared an Arabic post that originated on a Facebook page with 51,000 followers that is related to Kurdish-Israel relations. The page fueled a debate about why the region’s media was focused on Tamimi rather than suffering in other countries.
However, Nadine Nashaf, a photographer, found it “disgusting” to make the comparison. “No matter the situation, girls and women are objects to be sized up, measured and insulted if they do not conform to men.” Others argued that it was an Israeli narrative to distract from her release.
Hassan Yaroud, a resident of Agadir, Morocco, pointed out on Facebook that an Israeli journalist had noted that “187 Armenian and Kurdish women died under torture in Turkey’s prisons and today he falsely wanted to gain Muslim feelings,” by linking it with Tamimi’s release and her “weight increase.”
Seth Frantzman is a reporter for the Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Middle East Forum