Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Free Ahed Tamimi: Israeli Army arrests Palestinian Teen for hurting soldiers' masculinity

Dear friends,
as you will probably be aware, 16 year old Ahed Tamimi was arrested last week by Israeli occupation forces, after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier who was terrorising her family and village. As extensive coverage of Ahed's arrest in the Palestinian, Israeli and international media has noted, Ahed was in effect arrested for "humiliating" an Israeli soldier.

I have known Ahed since she was 9 years old. I met her when I first joined the very first protests in her village of Nabi Saleh against Israel's occupation and theft of village land.  I was warmly welcomed into the home of both her family and her cousin's family and became good friends with both her parents, Bassem and Nariman, as well as her aunt and uncle, Boshra and Naji.   Both Ahed's father and uncle were jailed for leading the non-violent popular resistance in Nabi Saleh. Her mother was also arrested several times for her role in the popular resistance and documenting Israel's occupation and apartheid regime.

Over the years, I have watched Ahed grow up from a fearless young girl into a courageous young woman.  Ahed's image and struggle has gone viral several times over the years, as she has fought to defend her brother, mother and other family members and as she refuses to be intimidated by Israel's occupation military.

Ahed's arrest is retaliation by an illegal settler state against a young woman whose body, mind and soul refuses to be occupied. Also arrested at the same time was Ahed's mother, Nariman as she accompanied her daughter after the 16 year old's arrest.  Nour Tamimi was also arrested, Ahed's cousin and eldest daughter of my friends, Naji and Boshra.  Bassem, Ahed's father has also been issued with a summons, in an attempt to intimidate him.

I have included below two articles discussing Ahed's arrest and her refusal to be intimidated.

You can support and keep updated about Ahed, Nariman and Nour and their struggle by liking the Nabi Saleh Solidarity page (click here) and the Free The Tamimi Women page (click here). I will also seek to post updates on Ahed, Nour and Nariman's cases here.

In solidarity, Kim



Army arrests Palestinian teen for hurting soldiers' masculinity

How one IDF raid turned a Palestinian teenager into a heroine overnight. 
By Yael Marom
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. (Activestills)
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. (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.

Israel 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. (Activestills)
Israel 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. (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 armored 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.


Haaretz Analysis: Palestinian Girl in Viral Video Arrested for Making the Occupation Look Bad

Israeli politicians perpetuating the occupation aren't really worried about Palestinian resentment or international pressure. Their deepest fear lies elsewhere

Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, Dec 20, 2017

A screenshot from a video showing the arrest of Ahed Tamimi, December 19, 2017.

The Givati battalion commander knew he was in for a shitstorm. Footage of his officers in the West Bank Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh last Friday was spreading on social media Monday, and with it, criticism of their conduct. He quickly texted a message to his battalion staff, “Don’t pay attention to the media, This is how I expect my men to act.”
He’s not the first Israel Defense Forces commander in recent years to find out online that his officers were coming under public fire. But usually, this is after they have been filmed using violence against Palestinian civilians. In this case, the Givati troops were being slated by Israelis for not having reacted when a group of girls and women had begun pushing, kicking and slapping them.

The commander may well have reflected at that moment that had they been caught on camera beating the women, they would have received much more support from the Israeli cybersphere. 
After the video was shown on television Monday night, the headlines on the front pages of Israeli tabloids Tuesday morning told of national shame. Politicians flocked to the airwaves, arguing over the soldiers’ response. Former Habayit Hayehudi MK Yinon Magal tweeted that he “missed [Elor] Azaria,” the soldier currently serving a prison sentence for executing a wounded Palestinian assailant two years ago in Hebron. In an interview he said that the soldiers should have introduced the women to their rifle butts. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of Habayit Hayehudi, went one further, expressing the hope that the girls would “end their lives in jail.”

Left-wing politicians and pundits tried to argue that the officers deserved to be commended for showing restraint, but that was hardly an argument to inspire confidence. National pride was saved as news arrived that one of the girls, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi had been arrested in her home in the early hours, four days after the event was filmed.

“Those who harm our soldiers by day are arrested by night,” tweeted Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Tamimi is now under arrest for allegedly attacking soldiers, but what no one could explain was why, if indeed there was a valid reason to apprehend her, was she not taken into custody on Friday? Unless, that is, the real charge against her is having made Israeli soldiers look impotent on camera.

There is a complete disconnect between the way Israelis see themselves and their soldiers, and how they are perceived from the outside. That is natural.

August 28, 2015: Palestinian women and youth scuffle with an Israeli soldier in the West Bank. Tamimi is seen on the left.AP

Every society has its own pride in national symbols and institutes. What is still surprising, after so many years in which Israelis have been exposed to foreign media, is that they still can’t conceive of how anyone can see IDF soldiers as anything but figures that instill confidence and empathy. I’ve given guest lectures for advanced command courses in which the cream of the IDF’s officers corps, its future battalion and brigade commanders, found it difficult to grasp the fact that often in interactions with foreign correspondents, especially in the typical operational scenarios of the West Bank military occupation, they are automatically at a disadvantage.

The decision, not only to arrest Ahed Tamimi, but to distribute the footage of her arrest to the Israeli media this morning, reflects the priorities of the IDF Spokesperson Unit and the military leadership it serves. The IDF’s overriding need is not to be seen as weak in the eyes of the mainstream Israeli public. The order to arrest Tamimi, four days after the incident and only after the video of her altercation with the officer had been broadcast on the nightly television shows, was an exercise in damage control and in satisfying the urge of the Israeli public to somehow expunge the humiliation. A Palestinian girl slapping an IDF officer was a national insult that could only be soothed by the pictures of her being taken from her home by female Border Police officers in full body armor.

It didn’t matter at that moment that to the Palestinians these images would broadcast a very different image and could quite likely inflame the already existing tensions. It didn’t even matter that when broadcast on international networks, all a foreign audience would see was a defiant young woman being suppressed by cruel occupiers. It didn’t even matter that this is almost certainly exactly what Ahed Tamimi wanted. Because at that moment, the only thing that mattered was satisfying an atavistic desire that our brave soldiers not be humiliated in public.

Deputy Minister Michael Oren, realizing what a PR disaster these images could be, tried to spin the event as concern for children’s welfare. “The Tamimi family,” he tweeted in English, “which may not be a real family —dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke IDF troops on camera. This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!” There may be some truth to his allegations. The Tamimis are veteran protesters and have demonstrated over the years a talent for producing compelling scenes for camera crews visiting Nabi Saleh. But his tweet also gives away the true sin of the family members. Their propensity for provoking IDF troops on camera means that Israel can’t have it both ways - to maintain a 50-year military occupation over Palestinian civilians and also expect that the soldiers doing so will look good on television.

The dirty secret that has been revealed here is that the Israeli politicians who are perpetuating the occupation are not really worried about international pressure on Israel or about Palestinian resentment and violence. Their deepest fear is that the broad Israeli public will pay attention to what its sons and daughters are doing daily in the West Bank in their name — that there simply is no way to stage manage a telegenic occupation. The Israeli veterans of Breaking The Silence who have tried to shake their fellow countrymen from their stupor of denial have been persecuted and vilified. And now the Palestinians are likewise not allowed to make the IDF look bad.

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