I had mixed feelings when I learned that Palestine has erected a statue of Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African anti-apartheid leader. On the one hand, I was quite pleased that the unmistakable connection between the struggles of Palestinians and South Africans is cemented more than ever before. On the other hand, I dreaded that rich, corrupt Palestinians in Ramallah are utilizing the image of Mandela to acquire badly needed political capital.

The 6-meter bronze statue now stands in its own Nelson Mandela Square in Al-Tireh neighborhood in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority headquarters are based. The Palestinian Authority is known for its endemic political and financial corruption. In some ways, its survival is both essential for the richest Palestinian class and also for the Israeli military occupation.

Thus, it was quite disheartening to witness the travesty of political theater where the likes of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules with a long-expired mandate, unveiled the statue in a ceremony attended by his ministers and foreign diplomats.