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Ahed Tamimi offers Israelis a lesson worthy of Gandhi

Israel/Palestine
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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, colonised 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.

She was charged last week with assault and incitement after she slapped two heavily armed Israeli soldiers as they refused to leave the courtyard of her family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Her mother, Nariman, is in detention for filming the incident. The video quickly went viral.

Ahed lashed out shortly after soldiers nearby shot her 15-year-old cousin in the face, seriously injuring him.

Western commentators have largely denied Ahed the kind of effusive support offered to democracy protesters in places such as China and Iran. Nevertheless, this Palestinian schoolgirl – possibly facing a long jail term for defying her oppressors – has quickly become a social media icon.

While Ahed might have been previously unknown to most Israelis, she is a familiar face to Palestinians and campaigners around the world.

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.

Distinctive for her irrepressible blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, Ahed has been filmed regularly since she was a small girl confronting soldiers who tower above her. Such scenes inspired one veteran Israeli peace activist to anoint her Palestine’s Joan of Arc.

But few Israelis are so enamoured.

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

She has also given troubling form to the until-now anonymised Palestinian children Israel accuses of stone-throwing.

Palestinian villages like Nabi Saleh are regularly invaded by soldiers. Children are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, as happened to Ahed during her arrest last month in retaliation for her slaps. Human rights groups document how children are routinely beaten and tortured in detention.

Many hundreds pass through Israeli jails each year charged with throwing stones. With conviction rates in Israeli military courts of more than 99 percent, the guilt and incarceration of such children is a foregone conclusion.

They may be the lucky ones. Over the past 16 years, Israel’s army has killed on average 11 children a month.

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.

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 characterised 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.

But aside from exposing the sickness of a society addicted to dehumanising and oppressing Palestinians, including children, Ahed’s case raises the troubling question of what kind of resistance Israelis think Palestinians are permitted.

International law, at least, is clear. The United Nations has stated that people under occupation are allowed to use “all available means”, including armed struggle, to liberate themselves.

But Ahed, the villagers of Nabi Saleh and many Palestinians like them have preferred to adopt a different strategy – a confrontational, militant civil disobedience. Their resistance defies the occupier’s assumption that it is entitled to lord it over Palestinians.

Their approach contrasts strongly with the constant compromises and so-called “security cooperation” accepted by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

According to Israeli commentator Gideon Levy, Ahed’s case demonstrates that Israelis deny Palestinians the right not only to use rockets, guns, knives or stones, but even to what he mockingly terms an “uprising of slappings”.

Ahed and Nabi Saleh have 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.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is jonathan-cook.net.

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26 Responses

  1. eljay
    January 9, 2018, 12:22 pm

    … According to Israeli commentator Gideon Levy, Ahed’s case demonstrates that Israelis deny Palestinians the right not only to use rockets, guns, knives or stones, but even to what he mockingly terms an “uprising of slappings”. …

    JeffB has helpfully explained just what it is that Zionists expect from the non-Jews in geographic Palestine:

    … If the Palestinians act like Israelis they won’t be a perceived as a demographic threat and the Jewish Israelis will breed with them …

    The rapist wants his victims to stop struggling, lie back and enjoy the ride.

  2. Citizen
    January 9, 2018, 2:29 pm

    Hey, as a reaction to the usual IOF bullying, the Tamimi family pulled a good one Freud’s relative Bernays would appreciate? I’m waiting for Spielberg to do an epic on the Nakba.

    • Mooser
      January 10, 2018, 1:31 pm

      ” I’m waiting for Spielberg to do an epic on the Nakba.”

      ptoo, ptoo, ptoo!!

  3. Ossinev
    January 9, 2018, 3:00 pm

    “If the Palestinians act like Israelis they won’t be a perceived as a demographic threat and the Jewish Israelis will breed with them”

    Difficult one this. “Act like Israelis”? So in order to for the Israelis to “breed with ” them they have to find a large population of Untermenschen to practice murder/ terror/brutality like the Israelis do.
    Looking around can`t see any prospects for that in the neighbourhood. Would the Zios accept a simulation of some kind to effect the assimilation. As for the”breeding with” sounds like a prize bull scenario.

    Totally Zio. Totally hilarious.

  4. amigo
    January 9, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Israeli zionist mindset !!.

    We will beat them until they learn to love us.

    We will throw them into prison until they shower us with adoration.

    We will punish their relatives until they respect us.

    Failing all this effort to resolve our differences —we will kill them.

    I once had a fleeting moment of sympathy for Israel,s Jews , but that passed quite rapidly.

    It has never returned.

    • Mooser
      January 9, 2018, 6:23 pm

      “Israeli zionist mindset !!.”

      Well, it’s pretty much the same attitude Israeli Zionists have towards Jews outside of Israel. (With the proviso that they can only wish physical harm on us, of course)

  5. Emet
    January 9, 2018, 4:29 pm

    Some of Ahed’s friends just murdered a father of six today.

    • Eva Smagacz
      January 9, 2018, 7:52 pm

      Really Emet?

      Any proof for this “Some of Ahed’s friends” accusation? Or are you just assume all Palestinians are the same, in a racist sort of way?

      Where did this happen? Not in the Occupied Territories where Palestinians have a right of resistance, per chance? And what exactly was that man doing there? Was he resident of Havat Gilad, an illegal Israeli settlement near the Palestinian city of Nablus.

      Maybe he came across a Palestinian native that decided no longer to lower his head in subjugation, or a Palestinian who was humiliated one time to many by settlers or colonial army, or a Palestinian who lost everything due to deliberate acts of Israel, and had nothing to live for anymore?

      I know what motivates people to raise against occupiers. After all, my family has proud history of resistance going back generations. I do not believe that armed resistance of Palestinians against Israel Occupation is any different from resistance of Polish partisans against German Occupation.

      Was he one of those masked men in the photo, or was he just their spiritual guide?

    • Talkback
      January 10, 2018, 12:13 pm

      Is it ok if some of his friends killed Ahed’s relatives?

  6. Kay24
    January 10, 2018, 2:14 am

    The scum does not fall far from the tree:

    “Netanyahu’s Son to Gas Tycoon’s Son at Strip Club: My Dad Set Your Dad Up for $20b, Give Me $115 for Prostitute
    Yair Netanyahu told Kobi Maimon’s son and James Packer’s Israeli liaison in recording that he spent $115 on a prostitute ■ Netanyahu family: Cheap and malicious gossip
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.833740

  7. Marnie
    January 10, 2018, 6:02 am

    I’ve read some comments by zionist white trash daring to ask where is the palestinian peace maker? Where is their Gandhi?

    In an israeli prison, FFS, where else would she be?

    • eljay
      January 10, 2018, 8:24 am

      || Marnie: I’ve read some comments by zionist white trash daring to ask where is the palestinian peace maker? Where is their Gandhi?

      In an israeli prison, FFS, where else would she be? ||

      Six feet under, or otherwise silenced “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

      • Marnie
        January 10, 2018, 11:41 am

        That bastard. He better pray nothing more happens to Ahed.

    • Talkback
      January 10, 2018, 12:21 pm

      (delete)

  8. Elizabeth Block
    January 10, 2018, 9:42 am

    People ask me where is the Palestinian Mandela. What I want to know is, Where is the Israeli De Klerk?

    • Talkback
      January 10, 2018, 12:21 pm

      Hah! I just asked the same question and deleted it after I read your comment! :D

  9. gamal
    January 10, 2018, 6:59 pm

    Perhaps better to say the whole Tamimi family represents something, Manal Tamimi is interviewed

    “AARON MATÉ: As you were released, your cousin, Musab Tamimi, he was shot dead in the occupied West Bank at a protest. He was 17 years old.

    MANAL TAMIMI: Yes.

    AARON MATÉ: If I have this right, if I have this correct, he is the third member of your family to be killed by Israeli forces. Can you tell us about him, and were you able to go to his funeral?

    MANAL TAMIMI: Actually, Musab, he was killed while I was in prison. I was back from the prison clinic because I was very sick, and we were watching TV, and suddenly I saw him on the TV saying that Musab Tamimi, he was shot and killed. Of course, this is one of the most difficult experiences anybody could go through to see your cousin and his blood on TV while you don’t understand what’s going on and what’s happening, and you will think about the other, what happened with [inaudible 00:07:20].
    So then at night, I was released then the … Musab, he was an active young man. He has many dreams want to come true. He wanted to study. He was so clever. He was this kind of person who loved life to that end, and always he was … They used to live in Jordan, and they just came back to Palestine a few months ago, so he was so happy that finally he is in his country among his family with his people. But a sniper, well, he shot him, and it was clear that it … It’s assassination. It’s not a random shooting. By the way, the bullet went in his [inaudible 00:08:21]. Of course, one of them, the difficult times we are facing with the attack, the rest of the women, the attack at the village, but Musab, he’s the third member of my family who was killed the non-violent resistance that we began in 2009, but actually 22 Tamimi has been killed since 1976 until now, during the resisting the occupation.”

    http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20869:How-Palestine%27s-Tamimi-Family-Resists-Israel%27s-Occupation

  10. just
    January 10, 2018, 8:07 pm

    Recommended viewing:

    “Empire Files: Abby Martin Meets Ahed Tamimi—Message From A Freedom Fighter”

    • Marnie
      January 11, 2018, 2:25 am

      Bassem Tamimi is a distinguished speaker with such dignity and humility. His approach and that of his wife and daughter and many others, one of peace, will never be confused with weakness or contain any hint of acquiescence to the continued theft of their lands, their lives and identities. Their peacefulness is much more powerful than the weapons of destruction israel would visit upon them to silence the power of their righteousness. God bless and protect Palestine and deal accordingly with those who seek to continue to do them harm.

  11. Brewer
    January 11, 2018, 2:59 am

    “Israel faces a possible International Criminal Court war crimes probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children. For more, we speak with Norman Finkelstein, author of the new book “Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.” He is the author of many other books, including “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Human Suffering” and “Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End.””

    https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/10/gaza_an_inquest_into_its_martyrdom

  12. Eva Smagacz
    January 11, 2018, 7:45 am

    Ahed Tamimi, slip of a girl, is seen in this beautiful song about Palestine at 2.00 minutes mark.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCD27t5qfRI&w=854&h=480%5D

    74/82

  13. John O
    January 11, 2018, 11:28 am

    A review in the Guardian of a new exhibition of paintings by William Blake, the great English painter, printmaker and poet, caught my eye today, as it mentioned this incident:

    “Blake’s trouble with authority came to a head in August 1803, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier, John Schofield. Blake was charged not only with assault, but with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the king. Schofield claimed that Blake had exclaimed “Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves.” Blake was cleared in the Chichester assizes of the charges. According to a report in the Sussex county paper, “[T]he invented character of [the evidence] was … so obvious that an acquittal resulted”. Schofield was later depicted wearing “mind forged manacles” in an illustration to Jerusalem.” (Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake#Felpham)

    Seems that Ahed is in good company.

  14. JLewisDickerson
    January 12, 2018, 8:22 am

    RE: “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… Ahed and Nabi Saleh have shown that popular unarmed resistance – if it is to discomfort Israel and the world . . . must hold up a mirror to the oppressor. antagonistic and disruptive.” ~ Jonathan Cook

    MY COMMENT: Eureka! So, borrowing from James Carville during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign: “It’s the economy cognitive dissonance, stupid!” That’s why this particular incident/confrontation so “infuriated” the Israelis (i.e., “the toxic outrage and indignation”). The video of it being played over and over on Israeli television (and available world-wide thanks to Youtube and the internet) amounted to the holding up of “a mirror to the oppressor [i.e., the Israeli(s)] antagonistic and disruptive”. And, because the “reflection” seen by the oppressors/Israelis in the “mirror” contradicts their long-held, core belief (i.e., their “self-image as David fighting an Arab Goliath”); the Israelis/oppressors unpleasantly experience the “discomfort” of acute cognitive dissonance, which is then manifested as “toxic outrage and indignation” (i.e., they become “infuriated”, to borrow from Ben Caspit).

    ■ FROM BRITANNICA.COM [cognitive dissonance]

    • cognitive dissonance – the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in a person is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: the person rejects, explains away, or avoids the new information, persuades himself that no conflict really exists, reconciles the differences, or resorts to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in his conception of the world and of himself. The concept, first introduced in the 1950s, has become a major point of discussion and research.

    SOURCE – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/124498/cognitive-dissonance

    • JLewisDickerson
      January 12, 2018, 9:24 am

      P.S. To ‘complete the thought’, so to speak, Israel’s epidemic of acute cognitive dissonance should subside as various ‘defense mechanisms’ are employed by the populace. The prosecution/persecution of Ahed Tamimi in a military court with a 99% rate of conviction will greatly. assist in this process. In fact, when you look at some examples of common defense mechanisms (see below), you might notice that a few of them are considerably akin, in this instance, to the prosecution/conviction of sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi.
      [THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: Was Ben Caspit’s infamous commentary (in which he contemplated payback being administered to Ahed) associated with (e.g., a product of) one or more common defense mechanisms?]

      * FROM WIKIPEDIA AS OF 2/27/14:

      Defence mechanisms
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – https://web.archive.org/web/20140227185512/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms

      [EXCERPTS] . . . In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are psychological strategies brought into play [primarily ~ J.L.D.] by the unconscious mind[4] to manipulate, deny, or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain one’s self schema [and to minimize cognitive dissonance – J.L.D.].[5]

      These processes that manipulate, deny, or distort reality may include the following: repression, or the burying of a painful feeling or thought from one’s awareness even though it may resurface in a symbolic form;[3] identification, incorporating an object or thought into oneself;[6] and rationalization, the justification of one’s behavior and motivations by substituting “good” acceptable reasons for the motivations.[3][7] Generally, repression is considered the basis for other defense mechanisms.[3]

      Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behaviour such that the physical or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[8]

      Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses.[9] . . .

      . . . The list of defence mechanisms is huge and there is no theoretical consensus on the number of defence mechanisms. . .

      ● Vaillant’s categorization of defence mechanisms [EXCERPTS]

      ♦ Level 1: Pathological

      The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological. These six defences, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external experiences to eliminate the need to cope with reality. . .

      • Delusional Projection: Delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature. . . [i.e., perceiving legitimate criticism of Israel as “Anti-Semitism” ~ J.L.D.]
      • Denial: Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn’t exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality (for example, convincing oneself that all of the Palestinian/Arab prisoners iincarcerated by Israel are “terrorists”) . .
      • Distortion: A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.

      ♦ Level 2: Immature

      These mechanisms are often present in adults. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. . .

      • Fantasy: Tendency to retreat into fantasy in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts. . . [i.e., the illogical belief that the interests of the U.S. and Israel are identical is a nice example of fantasy ~ J.L.D.]

      ♦ Level 3: Neurotic

      These mechanisms are considered neurotic, but fairly common in adults. Such defences have short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause long-term problems . . .

      • Intellectualization: A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions . . .
      • Withdrawal: Withdrawal is a more severe form of defence. It entails removing oneself from events, stimuli, interactions, etc. under the fear of being reminded of painful thoughts and feelings. . .

      ♦ Level 4: Mature

      These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered mature . . .

      • Thought suppression: The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; making it possible to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions whilst accepting them. . .

      CURRENT WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms

    • JLewisDickerson
      January 12, 2018, 8:34 pm

      P.P.S. RE: But more troubling is a media debate that has characterised 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 . . . he said Ahed’s actions made “every Israeli’s blood boil”.

      MY COMMENT: So, the soldiers’ failure to beat Ahed in response to her slaps (i.e., actions that made “every Israeli’s blood boil”) has been characterized in the Israeli media as a “national shame”. A venerable television host Yaron London expressed astonishment that the soldiers “refrained from using their weapons” [no cigar jokes, puh-lease!] against Ahed, wondering whether they “ hesitated out of cowardice”.

      The aforesaid is so ‘heavily laden’ (and arguably heavily-laden) that I’m afraid to even begin trying to suggest what all might be going on. Not to mention that I am in no way qualified to do so, but here goes.
      To begin with, reading this stuff makes me feel like I need to do a bit of learnin’ on BDSM, especially the ‘BD’ part. ‘D’ just came to me (Domination), but ‘B’ doesn’t seem to ring a bell. [Googling BDSM] Oh yeah, bondage! How could I have forgotten? And , ‘D’ sometimes is related to ‘Discipline’. Likewise, ‘S’ can stand for “Submission”. Geesh, and I thought Yiddish was difficult!
      [Note to self: S&M is associated with certain types of narcissism, and I am wont to say that the U.S. is actually “The Great Sadist” rather than “The Great Satan”.]

      On second thought, I think I’ll opt instead for an explanation involving ‘Ye Olde Cognitive Dissonance’. Fortunately, I have already discussed the Israeli ‘core belief’ (referred to by Johnathan Cook) that they are little “David fighting an Arab Goliath”, and how this belief was contradicted when the video of Ahed was screened repeatedly on Israeli TV (thereby inflicting a very unpleasant/uncomfortable amount of cognitive dissonance on many Israelis).

      The ‘national shame’ meme suggests another possible Israeli ‘core belief’ that has been contradicted by the video of Ahed Tamimi confronting/slapping the IDF soldier/dominator/inquisitor. One contradiction is that the soldiers “refrained from using their weapons” [no cigar joks, puh-lease!] . The ‘core belief’ being contradicted might be something like,: “If force doesn’t work (i.e., bring about the desired result) with ‘an Arab’, then the remedy is ‘more (i.e., greater) force’. [Ariel Sharon’s dictum: that “force is the only thing the Arabs understand. And the only alternative to force is more force.” The Second Intifada . . . “he (Sharon) did crack in the end, with force, force, and more force”.] Any hesitation (in using force, or ‘more force’) on “Arabs” (and no telling how many others) is traitorous, and will likely lead to the demise of Israel, and result in the extinction of the “Jewish race”.

      An Israeli soldier has absolutely no choice but to ‘do the deed’ WITHOUT HESITATION, and then he may shed a few tears if he certifiably must. He who dominates (or ‘must dominate’), dare not hesitate! The teeny-tiniest hesitation, and there will be ‘hell to pay’; and not just ‘hell to pay’ “over there”, but ‘hell to pay’ right there in River City Jerusalem , Tel Aviv, Ariel, Ashdod, Hebron, Jerico, etc. (not to mention the sleepy neighborhoods of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Negev., etc. ). So, to hesitate is inexcusable, and the perpetrator will be ostracized by his fellow solders from then on; but to hesitate out of cowardice is a shanda, and merits summary execution via ‘friendly fire’ (an ‘honor killing’, of sorts).

      Now for a little reading on BDSM . . .

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