AhedTamimi is a sixteen-year-old Palestinian girl. Her case is one of the more important events in recent years because it expose to the world the difference in moral tone between the two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The 16-year-old Ahed a blue eyed, long blonde haired, Palestinian girl, slapped a heavily-armed Israeli soldier who was occupying her back yard. This incident took place shortly after another Israeli soldier had shot Tamimi’s cousin in the face. When a video recording of this slapping hit the internet, it went viral.
Upon the release of the video showing the slapping, many in Israeli society called for the girl’s arrest, and many were enraged that the soldier was passive and did not react. The next night after the slapping Ahed Tamimi was arrested in a midnight raid; she is presently being held “without” charges, as leading Israelis urge that the key be thrown away, and worse.
Yesterday, an Israeli judge ruled for the third time that her detention is to be extended, this time for another five days. The reasoning for the judge’s rulings to extend her detention are that she “poses a risk “.
Over the past week and a half, Ahed has been shuffled between numerous Israeli prisons and police stations. She has been held in painfully cold isolation cells with cameras pointing at her 24 hours a day. Without a parent or lawyer present, the Israeli authorities have attempted to interrogate her. This is common treatment for Palestinian minors that are arrested for protesting.
History of the Tamimi Family Protest
The Tamimi family has been demonstrating every Friday for about a decade. Their protest is against the takeover of Nabi Saleh’s (a Palestinian Village) natural water spring by a nearby illegal Israeli settlement. As Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father explained, the villagers said nothing when the army built the settlement of Halamish (originally Neve Tzuf) on Palestinian land but when the settlers confiscated their fresh water spring, and the army then prevented the Tamimis from accessing it, Bassem and his extended family decided to draw a red line.
Every week the Tamimis family gather at the top of the hill inside their village, carrying flags and banners, and walk toward the road that separates them from the spring. The goal is simply to cross the road and walk to the spring. And every week, the army deploys security forces inside and around the village to stop the protesters from reaching their destination.
The way it works is something like this: at around noon, Israeli military vehicles enter the village and park at the bottom of its bisecting road. Security forces, heavily armed and wearing combat gear, descend from the vehicles, load their weapons, and wait. Sometimes they start shooting as soon as the demonstration begins, and sometimes they wait for a teenager to throw a stone in their direction before opening fire.
On Friday, December 15, during the protest, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin Mohammed Tamimi was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. He was taken to the hospital where he required surgery and a was placed in a medically-induced coma.
A few hours after the shooting, armed soldiers came to Ahed’s home demanding to enter. The Israeli soldiers apparently parked themselves on Tamimi’s family’s land and fired tear gas at their house, smashing windows.
Ahed did what any brave young woman would, she pushed back. She slapped and kicked them, and screamed that they could not come in. Her family says she was expressing a legitimate protest at this treatment.
Situations like this are common in Israeli occupied Palestine. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) regularly detains Palestinian teens, on an average of two a night but due to the riots of the past few weeks, (Trump’s Embassy move to Jerusalem) the number is unusually high. As part of the ongoing operations of the Israeli military’s support of the illegal settlers, IDF gunman fire rubber-coated bullet into crowds of protesters.
On Friday, December 15, in Nabi Saleh, the IDF was embarrassed. Their pride was mortally wounded when an unarmed girl managed to drive away an Israeli gunman with yells and a few slaps. When the IDF is embarrassed someone must pay. Ahed, a sixteen-year old Palestinian girl is paying for her brave action against an Israeli occupational force.
The Israeli media likes to call these incidents “provocations”. The Jim Crow era had its provocation too. In a governmental enforced, apartheid society, the actions of a “downtrodden” person who dares to publicly oppose his persecutors will be considered as “posing a risk “.
The established Israeli order is that IDF gunmen may shoot Tamimi’s relative in the head, and then invade their houses. But standing up to the gunmen – that’s the provocation. That is the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian existence and the Israeli courts back it up.
Living in fear of this sort of treatment for 21st century Palestinians is common. Their lives are deprived of healthcare, an economy, a justice system, living in abject poverty with no food or water security and military violence against them and their children.
While most of the West seems indifferent to Ahed’s plight, Israel is hell-bent with hatred against this girl. Israeli Education Minister Neftali Bennett called for Ahed and her family to “spend the rest of their lives in prison.” Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman said she and her family should “get what they deserve,” and the prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit said that Israel should “exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.” Really, what is he advocating?
Stand-up Against Israel “anti-Semite”
Israel has a powerful billion-dollar lobby in Washington DC that has its hooks so deeply embedded in the American political system and in the national media that the Jewish state is virtually bullet-proof. Any critic of Israel is immediately labeled an “anti-Semite.” This makes it difficult for the less courageous to criticize Israel especially the gutless U.S. Senators and Congressmen that drink from the Israeli lobby’s trough.
Supporting Ahed would be considered a condemnation of the state of Israel. It would be a condemnation of Israel’s military court system which allows children to be held in isolation and denied access to their parents during interrogation. It would be a condemnation of Israel’s settlement enterprise and stealing of Palestinian land and water.
To support Ahed is to rebuke Israel’s assertion that Palestinians must comply with their occupiers, that they must open the doors for the soldiers who enter their homes. To support Ahed would challenge the “only democracy in the Middle East” fallacy.
Mainstream media does not have the integrity nor the will to criticize Israel. They have witnessed the power of the Israeli lobby. As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”
The NBA had to apologize and remove wording from its website referring to “Palestine-occupied territory” after complaints by an Israeli minister. The Israeli sports minister Miri Regev had sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calling Palestine “an imaginary ‘state’,” and asking for the reference to be removed from the basketball league’s website. The NBA “corrected it.”
Ahed – A Warrior That Feminist Should Know
Ahed Tamimi risked her life to fight off predators. For her bravery, she will sit in an Israeli jail for another five days. I would think that slapping a powerful man in army gear equipped with a loaded gun to prevent an invasion of her property would get the attention from the #MeToo crowd and other woman rights groups.
I encourage the very powerful women advocacy groups to help expose the dehumanization that submission invokes when living under occupation. There exists an opportunity to embrace, promote and support a strong, proactive, young woman who is sitting in jail, in Israel, for standing up to the authority. Ahed Tamimi choose not to be a victim, she refused to submit, she is a heroine.
Maybe a 16-year-old young woman armed with courage and fueled by a vision of justice can become the poster child to end oppression in Israel. Then again, maybe young Palestinian women must not raise an arm against the abusive and just submit to the Zionist state.