1) Simone Zimmerman describes how her love for Israel has been tainted by its dehumanization of Palestinians; 2) and 3), +972 on soldiers’ foolish pride and creating a heroine.
Ahed Tamimi in the Ofer prison military court. December 20, 2017. Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills
Looking at the images of Ahed in court, I know we can never truly be free as long as we deny another people their freedom. And I wonder what freedom actually means if it takes locking up people like Ahed to secure it.
By Simone Zimmerman, +972 blog
December 21, 2017
When I was 16, I joined Facebook. I spent a lot of time taking cute photos with my friends, and learned how to do neat things with my digital camera. I got in quite a good bit of trouble for making out with cute boys at my Jewish youth group and summer camp. One of the worst things that happened was that the process of getting my drivers permit was delayed for a year.
But the best thing that happened that year was spending almost five months in Israel, first on a high school exchange program in Tel Aviv, and then on a six-week teen trip with Camp Ramah across the country after a week of visiting Holocaust sites in Poland.
My semester in Israel was the most free I had ever felt in my young life. I rode buses, took taxis, walked — things I never did growing up in Los Angeles. I went to the beach and the mall, ate lots of delicious food, visited tourist sites, and got drunk for my first time on one shot of cheap vodka. I had been learning about this place my entire life — I had come before on two short family visits, but this was my first time feeling this place was a part of me, and something I was a part of.
I returned to Israel after a visit to Poland, and my visceral connection, love, familiarity, and commitment, was joined by a fierce sense of tribal pride and obligation. Standing in the barracks and on the train tracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau, walking through the graveyard of Treblinka, staring at the mountains of human ashes and rooms full of shoes in Majdanik, I felt so full of horror and grief at the calamity that had befallen my people, and so clear about my commitment to Jewish liberation and Jewish resilience.
Simone Zimmerman at 16. ‘That summer I sang and prayed and played on mountaintops, valleys, springs, and beaches across the country.’
At every site we visited, we said the Mourner’s Kaddish before singing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva. It was clear where the next stop of this journey had to be: “Never again” meant we would be strong and free in Israel. That summer I sang and prayed and played on mountaintops, valleys, springs, and beaches across the country.
My feelings are a bit more complex these days. That narrative of Jewish liberation in Israel was and is being challenged for me each day, especially living here again. But the thing that breaks my heart most about this place is that I do still believe in Jewish liberation and resilience.
And yet I see the abuse and dehumanization of Palestinians by the State of Israel. I see the full-on assault on democratic principles. I see the constriction of the minds and hearts of so much of the Jewish public — in Israel and the Diaspora — that reduces all Palestinians to terrorists who deserve to be occupied, jailed, and executed, and reduces those of us who defend them to traitors. It feels like an affront to my history, our history, that I hold so dear. It feels like betrayal.
This week, in the middle of the night, Israeli soldiers burst into Tamimi family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, and arrested 16-year-old Ahed. When her mom went to check on her at an Israeli police station, she too was arrested. Ahed is currently facing at least five more days of detention. Her 21-year-old cousin was also arrested, and her father is being investigated. All because she confronted Israeli soldiers outside her house.
Ahed has lived her entire life under occupation. Her entire life she has watched Jewish settlements expand around her village, encroaching on her community’s land. She has watched soldiers raid her home and harass her family, she has seen members of her village shot, including Mustafa, who was killed after being shot in the face with a tear gas canister, and Mohammed, who this week was shot in the face with a rubber bullet and was in a coma for several days. He is younger than Ahed.
Ahed has been resisting her entire life, fighting for her family and her home against a state and an army that want to crush their will and their power. I am sure much of her daily life also includes the simple joys and trivialities that I enjoyed when I was 16. I do not want to reduce her to a one-dimensional victim of her conditions, or a one-dimensional hero. But she also is both of those things. She is certainly a hero.
Ahed Tamimi seen in a protest in Nabi Saleh. Photo by Haim Schwarczenberg
If I had a foreign occupier standing on my doorstep, I too would want to push them off. Had my friends and family been hurt by soldiers, they would see no compassion from me. If resisting a foreign military was my regular Friday activity at 16, getting some badass warrior princess action photos in the process would be essential. I also wanted to look hot and badass in my photos when I was 16. And I got to take those photos sitting on my driveway with no soldiers around to bother me.
I think back to my life when I was 16, and the power and freedom I felt from this place. Then I look at Ahed, the freedom and power this place wants to destroy, and I want to weep.
Looking at the images of Ahed in Ofer Military Court, I know we can never truly be free as long as we deny another people their freedom. I wonder what freedom actually means if it takes locking up people like Ahed to secure it.
Simone Zimmerman is an organizer and activist from Los Angeles and a founding leader of IfNotNow, a movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation. Twitter: @simonerzim
The Palestinian teenager from Nabi Saleh was arrested after being filmed confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home. Israeli forces have since arrested her mother and an another relative; her father Bassem received a summons while in court.
By Oren Ziv and Yael Marom, +972
December 20, 2017
The Israeli army’s Ofer Military Court extended by five days the detention of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who was arrested for confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Video of the confrontation made headlines around the world. Police had asked the court to extend Ahed’s detention by 10 days. Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Ahed Tamimi, argued that even if the police intend to continue their investigation against her client, it is unnecessary to keep Ahed in prison.
Video: Ahed and cousin Noor slap soldiers and tell them to get out of Nabi Saleh. She was arrested a few days later.
“The police claim this is a unique incident carried out shamelessly and spitefully. But obviously neither shamelessness nor spite justify imprisonment,” Lasky said. “Israeli hilltop youth (settlers) have engaged in similar behavior and the police and the army chose not to arrest them or to consider their behavior such that requires keeping a minor under arrest.”
Lasky also criticized the manner in which Tamimi was arrested, as well as the request by the police to carry out the hearing behind closed doors. “Given that the incident in question occurred during the day, it would have been possible to carry out the arrest during the time of the incident or a few hours later. Instead, the army and the police chose to carry out an illegal, offensive, nighttime raid.”
“It is unacceptable that the military authorities decided to video-tape the arrest of a minor and send the clip to media outlets as punishment,” Lasky said of the state’s request to hold the hearing behind closed doors. “Now the police are suddenly worried about protecting the rights of a minor […] It seems that this is all to prevent anyone from seeing what happens inside the courtroom.”
Israeli Border Police officers arrested Ahed in a night-time raid on the Tamimi family home in the early hours of Tuesday. Her mother, Nariman, was arrested while accompanying Ahed to an Israeli police station.
Tuesday night, Nur Tamimi, a relative of Ahed’s who appeared alongside her in the now-famous video, was arrested as well.
Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, also a relative of Ahed’s, remains hospitalized after Israeli troops shot him in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a protest in Nabi Saleh on Friday. He has been unconscious for a number of days.
During the military court hearing on Wednesday, a police representative said that Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, will also be called in for an investigation Thursday morning.
Bassem Tamimi said on Wednesday that he is proud of his daughter and worried about her. “I don’t trust this court because it is a component of the occupation — it helps the occupation and the occupier,” Tamimi said. “It is used to give legitimacy to the arrest of Ahed, the child.”
Nothing that in addition to his wife and daughter both having been arrested, he also received a summons to be interrogated, Bassem added: “I ask that they keep us all together, so that we can remain together as a family in jail.”
The village of Nabi Saleh began weekly demonstrations against the occupation in 2009 following a takeover of the village’s natural spring by settlers from the adjacent settlement of Halamish. The army has since to deployed troops on a weekly basis to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the spring or the road used by the settlers.
The notorious video of a once-masked soldier being set upon by women and children from Nabi Saleh. 12 year old-Ahed is on the left of the picture biting his hand. The soldier is kneeling on her brother.
Every protest by the residents of Nabi Saleh, and any Palestinian in the West Bank, is illegal under Israeli military law in the occupied territory. The army regularly suppresses Palestinian nonviolent and unarmed protests with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, live fire, and other means of crowd dispersal.
In December 2011, Mustafa Tamimi was killed during a protest in the village when he an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with a tear gas canister at close range. One year later, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Rashadi Tamimi in the village.
Oren Ziv is a photojournalist with Activestills. Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article also appears in Hebrew. Read it here.
How one IDF raid turned a Palestinian teenager into a heroine overnight.
By Yael Marom, +972
December 19, 2017
Palestinian children and women face Israeli soldiers during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, April 20, 2012. Photo by Activestills
The IDF Spokesperson was clearly excited to publish the details of a complicated military operation that took place Tuesday morning: under the cover of darkness, Israeli Border Police broke into the Tamimi family’s home and arrested 17-year-old Ahed, taking her in for interrogation. The Israeli forces arrived at the family’s home fully armed; however, their most important weapon was their camera. The goal: to win back some of the army’s masculinity, wounded a few days after a video surfaced of the rebellious girl attempting push soldiers out of her house — cursing and shoving them, even kicking and slapping.
The Israeli public is accustomed to submissive Palestinians — and if not, it is accustomed to seeing them beaten and arrested, regardless of whether they present an actual danger or are engaged in an act of protest. That is precisely what didn’t happen this week, and it is what disrupted all of the rules of the game, so much so that Channel 2 commentator Roni Daniel said Monday that he is unperturbed by the possibility that soldiers might be caught on camera beating the girls who disrespected them. We are used to criticism from the international community about the violence of the occupation, but we are not so accustomed to criticism over two soldiers who thought before raising their hands to strike.
Here’s the story: a young woman was arrested in the middle in the night, on camera, because Israeli soldiers did not appear manly enough. To carry out the arrest, they sent a female Border Police officer. So this is what equality looks like.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has already determined Ahed’s sentence: “She should spend her life in prison.” Yinon Magal, a former Knesset member, expressed his longing for Elor Azaria — the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head and killing him. Magal made clear the moral bar according to which future incidents will be judged. Every soldier knows exactly what is expected of him. And besides, even without Magal’s tweet, the commanding ethos is clear as day. Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Liberman are already preparing a law that will sentence to death any Palestinian who dares to resist.
The headlines debate whether the soldiers demonstrated weakness or restraint. This morning, those headlines also generated feelings of vengeance among the online comments sections, as well as on Twitter. A few hours after Ahed was detained, her mother, Nariman, who had accompanied her to the police station, was also taken in for investigation. But amid the media circus and the debate around the morality of the brave soldiers, the broader context, of course, is absent. What leads a girl, who in any other place in the world would be busy with schoolwork, hobbies, and dreams of the future (a year ago Ahed said that if it were not for the occupation, she would be a soccer player) to endanger herself by standing up to armed soldiers?
Ahed Tamimi was born into the occupation. As the daughter of parents who are leading activists in the popular struggle against the occupation in the village of Nabi Saleh, she has been part of the struggle her entire life. She grew up in a reality in which her parents and brother were arrested repeatedly, in which her father served a long prison sentence for being a political leader: a reality of routine night raids, armed soldiers, settler attacks, and checkpoints. In this reality, every protest by the residents of Nabi Saleh is considered illegal by the military, and is suppressed with violence — whether tear gas, rubber bullets, live fire, and other means. It is a reality in which you or your loved ones could be gravely wounded or killed at any time.
Israeli soldiers grab Ahed Tamimi and a relative as she is being arrested at the entrance to Nabi Saleh’s water spring, during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village, August 24, 2012. Photo by Activestills
Ahed was nine when weekly demonstrations began in Nabi Saleh to protest the seizure of the village’s spring by settlers. The army quickly moved to defend the settlers’ theft of the spring, and began to deploy soldiers to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from reaching the spring or the adjacent road also used by settlers. Israeli forces used every possible means to suppress the protests, often by stopping the demonstrators while they were still within their village.
When Ahed was 12, her mother’s cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed before her eyes during a protest, shot in the head by gas canister. One year later, she witnessed the army shoot and kill her uncle Rashadi. Last week, her cousin Mohammed, nearly her age, was shot in the face by a rubber-coated bullet that penetrated his skull. He remains unconscious.
Ahed and her family continue their struggle. They continue to march and demonstrate. And they continue to pay the price for their refusal to accept the status quo, for their steadfast challenge to mechanisms of the occupation.
Over the past years, pictures of Ahed Tamimi have appeared again and again, each time standing barehanded and straight-backed facing down heavily armed and armoured soldiers: the female version of David facing Goliath. These pictures have driven the Right crazy, and right-wingers have been demanding the arrest of the “provocateur” for some time. This morning, the army finally gave them what they’ve been demanding. But it also gave the Palestinians a new heroine, one more in a long history of women who for decades have struggled unceasingly for their freedom.
Free Ahed Tamimi.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew. Read it here.