Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi has been released from Israeli custody, having served an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers. It is reported that the then sixteen-year-old was reacting to news that her fifteen-year-old cousin, Mohammed, had been shot in the face by Israeli forces earlier that day. Her mother Nariman had live-streamed the incident, and served an eight-month sentence alongside her daughter for this act.
The video went viral, prompting international outcries against the detaining of the teenager, and making her a global icon. Prior to the streaming, she was already well known as an attendee of protests against the Israeli occupation in and around her village of Nabi Saleh. These weekly protests have become a focal point for activism against the occupation since 2011.
Grassroots activist Bassem Tamimi, father of Ahed, wrote of his daughter in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last year, “My daughter is just 16 years old. In another world, in your world, her life would look completely different. In our world, Ahed is a representative of a new generation of our people, of young freedom fighters.”
He continued: “Ahed is one of many young women who in the coming years will lead the resistance to Israeli rule. She is not interested in the spotlight currently being aimed at her due to her arrest, but in genuine change.”
Her mother Nariman described the situation facing Palestinian parents, “As a parent, I want to say that we shouldn’t be afraid of our children and we should support them in whatever they choose to do. They are being killed whether in our homes or resisting in the streets, so support them in resistance.”
Her propulsion to global icon and symbol of the next generation of Palestinian resistance has naturally led to much hate being directed at her from certain circles of Israelis. Caroline B. Glick wrote in the Jerusalem Post that Ahed and her family are, “at the nexus of a global war against Israel”, while government minister Miri Regev referred to the child as a “terrorist”.
It is easy to see why many Zionists feel threatened by Ahed. The non-violent resistance carried out by her, and the disproportionate force used by the agents of the Israeli state to suppress this, shines a light on the reality of Israel’s brutality. This type of resistance is much more palatable to the International community, and evokes much more sympathy, than violent resistance. Her articulate nature only adds to the fears she stirs within Zionism. Just as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement has been identified as an inherent threat to the State of Israel, those such as Ahed fall under the same bracket.
Not A Victim
On the hate that she has provoked, Ahed said, “They are afraid of the truth. If they were not wrong, they would not be afraid of the truth. The truth scares them. And I managed to deliver this truth to the world. And of course, they’re afraid how far I reached. They always fear the truth, they are the occupier, and we are under occupation.”
She also wholeheartedly refuses the label of victim: “I’m not the victim of the occupation. The Jew or the settler child who carries a rifle at the age of 15, they are the victims of the occupation. For me, I am capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. But not him. His view is clouded. His heart is filled with hatred and scorn against the Palestinians. He is the victim, not me. I always say I am a freedom fighter. So I will not be the victim.”
Ahed accepts the weight that comes with being a symbol of the resistance, and believes she is up to the task at hand. She plans now to pursue a career in law to “hold the occupation accountable”.
She also sees a special place for women within the struggle to end the occupation, “In the end I want to say that the power is with the people, and the people will and can decide their destiny and decide the future. Women are a key part of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and the women’s role will continue to expand, not only in the struggle but by producing new generations that can continue the struggle. We say: ‘Leave, leave occupation.”