A Lesson Worthy of Gandhi

Ahed Tamini, 16 years old was sentenced to 8 months in an Israeli prison for slapping an Israeli soldier.

Ahad Tamini grew up in the occupied West Bank and has known no other life.  After all, the occupation has gone on for over 50 years.  Tamimi, 16, was arrested on December 16 in a pre-dawn raid on the family’s home. The arrest followed another video, posted to Facebook, of Tamimi protesting the Israeli occupation by slapping an Israeli soldier outside her house in Nabih Saleh.

The soldiers were in the courtyard on the property of the family’s home and women family members, including Ahad were requesting the soldiers to leave; apparently they had no military reason for being there.  The family later stated that they were concerned about the possibility of soldiers being housed in or occupying civilian homes.

Within hours after the “assault” her father Bassem said sraeli forces came to their home in the middle of the night “they told me to bring the family to the sitting room and they took all of our electronic devices.” They handcuffed Ahed and took her away without telling the family where she was going.

A spokesman for Tamimi’s legal team noted  “The extraordinary thing here is her arrest was televised [by the Israeli authorities], indicating how much this is a media-driven case and not really a legal one.”

No one in Israel really cared about the Tamimi family before; although they have been active in protesting the occupation, they were regarded as little more than a nuisance. But when the video of her slapping a soldier went viral, “right-wing Israelis turned it into a media circus, making an issue of what they viewed as an insult to “our soldiers’ honor and pride.”

The media outlet of the IDF stated  “arrests are often carried out at night, due to operational reasons, and in an attempt to minimize the effect of such operations on the daily life in the area.”  Right.  Bang on the door at three in the morning.   Sounds like occupied Poland.  But there was no response when questioned as to why the arrest was televised.

Oh the threat!  An armed trained soldier of the mighty IDF, carrying an automatic assault rifle got slapped by a 16 year old girl!

Tamimi’s case has become a rallying point among Palestinians. In 2015, Tamimi became famous on the internet when a photo surfaced of her screaming and biting an Israeli soldier who had her younger brother in a headlock.  The day she slapped the soldier a young cousin had suffered a head wound from an Israeli rubber bullet.

Johnathan Pollack, the family’s lawyer explained that “Israel has two different systems of law in play at the same time: There are Israeli citizens, including citizens who illegally live in the West Bank; [they] are subject to the Israeli judiciary system,” which he said is “a lot more lenient.”  But Palestinians are subject to military law which consists of orders by the commander of the occupying forces.  Martial law.  Kind of like Occupied Poland.

Now in all fairness, the family has been active in the peaceful protest movement.   Her father Bassem has been arrested 9 times on similar charges and served time in Israeli prisons.

Pollack also expressed concern over the conditions of Tamimi’s imprisonment at Hasharon Prison. “Prisoners are not supposed to be transported outside” the West Bank territories according to international law, he says. Procedures at the prison have made it hard to arrange visits by her lawyers.

Bassem has also not been able to visit his daughter. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman banned Bassem from traveling outside the occupied territories.

Bassem said, “I’m her father, I’m worried, I’m afraid.” He believes they are trying to break his daughter and he learned she had gone nearly “30 hours without sleeping” during the interrogation process.

But Ahed Tamimi isn’t the only teenager from the family in Israeli custody. Nearly two weeks after her arrest, her cousin Mohammed was also detained — again, during a night raid.

His father, Bilal Tamimi, said soldiers came, also around 3 a.m., and angrily pounded on the door, “They told me they need his phone, [they said] ‘we should have his phone or we’ll have to punish everyone here.’

Mohammed volunteered to give them the phone. The soldiers questioned him alone in another room away from his family.

Bilal posted video on Facebook of his son hugging the family before going off with the soldiers and they avoided any violent altercation during the arrest. But he still does not have much information about his son’s condition or the charges against him.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli security personnel at Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, January 15, 2018.

Ahed entering an Israeli military court this week.

This week a military court sentenced the teen to 8months in prison.    She told reporters “There is no justice under occupation and we are in an illegal court.”

Palestinians have embraced her as a symbol of a new generation resisting Israel.  Israelis see her as alternatively a naïve manipulated youth or as a threat to Israel’s military deterrence.

Now sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi may not be what Israelis had in mind when, over many years, they criticised Palestinians for not producing a Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.

Eventually, colonized peoples bring to the fore a figure best suited to challenge the rotten values at the core of the society oppressing them. Ahed is well qualified for the task.

For years, she and other villagers have held a weekly confrontation with the Israeli army as it enforces the rule of Jewish settlers over Nabi Saleh. These settlers have forcibly taken over the village’s lands and ancient spring, a vital water source for a community that depends on farming.

The video of Ahed, screened repeatedly on Israeli TV, has threatened to upturn Israel’s self-image as David fighting an Arab Goliath. This explains the toxic outrage and indignation that has gripped Israel since the video aired.

Not only does she defy Israeli stereotypes of a Palestinian, she has struck a blow against the self-deception of a highly militarized and masculine culture.

Predictably, Israeli politicians were incensed. Naftali Bennett, the education minister, called for Ahed to “end her life in jail”. Culture minister Miri Regev, a former army spokeswoman, said she felt personally “humiliated” and “crushed” by Ahed.

But more troubling is a media debate that has characterized the soldiers’ failure to beat Ahed in response to her slaps as a “national shame”.

The venerable television host Yaron London expressed astonishment that the soldiers “refrained from using their weapons” against her, wondering whether they “hesitated out of cowardice”.

But far more sinister were the threats from Ben Caspit, a leading Israeli analyst. In a column in Hebrew, he said Ahed’s actions made “every Israeli’s blood boil”. He proposed subjecting her to retribution “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”, adding that his own form of revenge would lead to his certain detention.

That fantasy – of cold-bloodedly violating an incarcerated child – should have sickened every Israeli. And yet Caspit is still safely ensconced in his job.

Israeli commentator Gideon Levy mockingly warned the Army to prepare for a prolonged “uprising of slapping.”

“Ahed has shown that popular unarmed resistance – if it is to discomfort Israel and the world – cannot afford to be passive or polite. It must be fearless, antagonistic and disruptive.

Most of all, it must hold up a mirror to the oppressor.  Ahed has exposed the gun-wielding bully lurking in the soul of too many Israelis. That is a lesson worthy of Gandhi or Mandela.”



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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1 Response to A Lesson Worthy of Gandhi

  1. beetleypete says:

    Footsteps on the stairs in the night, retribution in the dark, without witnesses.
    They learned their lessons well from the Nazis, it seems. But they have America’s backing, so there will be no ‘second front’ for Palestine, sadly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

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