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Israeli poet apologizes for comparing Ahed Tamimi to Anne Frank

Israel/Palestine
on 19 Comments

The Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen caused great outrage in Israel when he posted a poem (on his Instagram) comparing Ahed Tamimi to iconic Jewish heroes during the Holocaust– Hanna Szenes and Anne Frank, alongside Joan of Arc–causing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to call for banning him completely from army radio, as well as all other media.  

Now Geffen has recanted, saying he was “effectively under house arrest” since the poem was published. He had become so controversial that he feared to show his head: “I was under siege for a week, didn’t open the door, didn’t eat for a week”.

Geffen spoke at a cultural event in Petah Tikva Saturday night, on Holocaust Memorial day, per the Jerusalem Post:

“[I]t was really a mistake, and I apologize for it, in particular to all those who were personally offended.”

The Defense Minister showed his immediate compassion, with Jewish religious overtones:

“He who confesses and renounces [sins] finds mercy”, he said, quoting from Proverbs 28.

The Moldavian night-club-bouncer-cum-Defense Minister, and illegal settler, is apparently vying for other ministerial posts – Ministry of Religious Affairs, perhaps? It was Lieberman who was the main inciter against Geffen, even renouncing outright the state attorney opinion that as a Minister he should not interfere in army radio program decisions. True, Lieberman did not call for the decapitation of Geffen with an axe, or for his drowning in the Dead Sea, as he has suggested be done to Palestinians, but he “effectively” put Geffen under “house arrest”.

Geffen’s “house arrest” is nothing compared to the continued occupation of Ahed Tamimi’s Nabi Saleh, or compared to her continued incarceration – six weeks awaiting trial and counting – a girl of 16 in an Israeli prison, kept there until end of procedures because “she might slap again”.

Nor is Geffen’s “house arrest” anything near that of Dareen Tatour, the Palestinian-Israeli poet who wrote, “Resist them”. Tatour has been under arrest since October 2015. She is currently under house arrest, awaiting her next hearing, set for February 15th.  

But Yehonatan Geffen is now a free man. After a few moments of actual solidarity with the oppressed, he tasted the wrath of Israeli society. He recanted, came back into the fold, and has now received the merciful benedictions of ‘rabbi Lieberman’.

But wait – Geffen does not give up so easily. He had to make another tongue-in-cheek crack about his error, to show he’s not totally lost his spirit, and that he has not completely capitulated to Israeli fascism. So what does he say?

“I could have, in that same line, compared her to Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot.”

Oh boy. That’s maybe provocative for Israelis in the sense that they don’t want their heroes compared to Ahed Tamimi at all, but that is provocative in a whole other, cynical sense: in which an oppressed individual is equated with her oppressor. Gal Gadot is not just an actor, and she’s not really a Wonder Woman. As Susan Abulhawa wrote in her piece “The wonder of imperial feminism” in Al Jazeera,

[Gadot] “is an avowed Zionist and cheerleader of war crimes. Gal Gadot, the actor in the lead role [of Wonder Woman], was an active soldier in the military when Israel invaded and carpet-bombed Southern Lebanon in 2006. In 2014, Gadot sent a message of support for Israeli soldiers as they were slaughtering more than 2,100 human beings imprisoned in a seaside enclave with no place to hide or escape. They bombed whole neighbourhoods, burying families in the rubble of their demolished homes. For 52 days, they rained death from sky, land, and sea on to defenseless civilians in the most densely populated place on earth.”

Abulhawa asks,

“What if Hollywood made this film in the 1980s and cast a militant apartheid supporter for the role of Wonder Woman? Would the US media focus on her acting talent and beauty instead of the fact that she openly and proudly asserts her right, as a white woman, to subjugate the natives of her country? What is even more bewildering is that Gadot is being touted as a feminist (per her own claim) and, remarkably, as a woman of colour. Queen Latifah fits that bill and would have made an excellent Wonder Woman, but I digress.”

Is that the character Geffen jokes that he could have compared Ahed to, seriously? Why? Because it would seem provocative for Israelis but still not be as egregious as comparing Ahed to Holocaust heroes? Is Geffen even aware of how cynical it would be to equate an oppressed with an oppressor? Probably not; these thoughts would probably hardly occur to any Israeli. The comparison to Gadot and Wonder Woman will be dismissed as silly, but not as criminal as the comparison to Szenes and Frank. Gadot’s many Zionist fans will no doubt be a bit offended, because how dare Geffen even suggest Ahed is a hero, because of course Gadot is a hero.

Yehonatan Geffen is now back to his normal ‘leftist’ life: the privileged Jewish-Israeli that he is, having succumbed to the fascist pressure to renounce his sinful comparisons. And the girl whom he once supported, has now been sacrificed on the altar of Jewish heroism and martyrdom, something which apparently cannot be compared to anything else, anywhere and eternally so.

Move on folks. Just another ripple in the chronicles of the ‘only democracy’.    

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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19 Responses

  1. Ira Glunts
    Ira Glunts
    January 29, 2018, 1:54 pm

    To Yonoosh, the Sometime Poet Fan of Ahed Tamimi

    למשורר שאהד את עאהד תמימי.

    A beautiful soul, 71-years-old, did something terrible
    When the proud people of Israel
    Cursed him again
    He gave them an apology.
    He was born into this and in his apology
    Were more than 100 years of Zionist education and acculturation.
    And when the story of this struggle is told
    You, Yehonatan Geffen
    Not blond,
    Like Ahed Tamimi who did not apologize
    For slapping Goliath,
    Will be with
    Goldstone and Gal Gadot,
    While she will be with
    Those who fought for Palestine and freedom.

    The original —

    A beautiful 17-year-old girl did something terrible
    When a proud Israeli officer
    Invaded her home again
    She gave him a slap.
    She was born into this and in this slap
    Were 50 years of occupation and humiliation.
    And when this story of struggle will be told
    You Ahed Tamimi
    Red haired,
    Like David who slapped Goliath.
    You will be right there with
    Jeanne D’Arc, Hannah Senesh and Anne Frank.

    Yehonatan Geffen from his Instagram page.
    Translated from the Hebrew by Ira @abushalom Glunts

    • Jonathan Ofir
      Jonathan Ofir
      January 30, 2018, 5:24 am

      Great poem, Ira Glunts. Now that Yonoosh has apologised for his, you should definitely not make the same mistake.

      • Ira Glunts
        Ira Glunts
        January 30, 2018, 9:33 am

        Thanks. Don’t worry, I won’t apologize. I look forward to your posts here for their insights into the Israeli insanity.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      January 30, 2018, 10:22 am

      Bravo!!

  2. eljay
    eljay
    January 29, 2018, 1:54 pm

    The Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen caused great outrage in Israel when he posted a poem (on his Instagram) comparing Ahed Tamimi to iconic Jewish heroes during the Holocaust– Hanna Szenes and Anne Frank, alongside Joan of Arc – …

    Now Geffen has recanted …

    “[I]t was really a mistake, and I apologize for it, in particular to all those who were personally offended.”

    It’s a shame that Mr. Geffen has apologized for delivering a well-aimed verbal slap at a very deserving Israel.

    • mijj
      mijj
      January 29, 2018, 6:29 pm

      … however .. better a well aimed comment followed by a profuse, grovelling, heartfelt apology is better than no comment at all.

      In fact a profusion of sharp and barbed comments followed by an ocean of prepared apologies would be much better than silence.

      In fact (2) .. maybe the comment and the grovelling apology recanting the comment should be issued simultaneously.

      • eljay
        eljay
        January 30, 2018, 7:32 am

        || mijj: … however .. better a well aimed comment followed by a profuse, grovelling, heartfelt apology is better than no comment at all. … ||

        The best would have been a brief comment defending his words and his right to say them.

    • annie
      annie
      January 29, 2018, 7:24 pm

      LOL! the predictability is astounding.

      maybe the comment and the grovelling apology recanting the comment should be issued simultaneously.

      oh that’s a good idea. or, maybe the groveling apology could preface the poem. something along the lines of

      “oh sorry sorry sorry i know this is so wrong but in some fit of passion i imagined it so i thought i’d pass it along even tho i know it is so horrible of me and please just consider it as an example of what not to (ever) do, think, write or feel”

      • Jonathan Ofir
        Jonathan Ofir
        January 30, 2018, 5:27 am

        Right Annie. I profusely apologise to mijj in advance, in that I wish to make the point, that it does not make sense to apologise in advance for something that you mean and want to say.

        Art is there to provoke, to stir, to upset, even to anger. It is not there to appease. But I apologise again towards anyone who feels that is too offensive. I didn’t say anything and I wouldn’t mean it.

  3. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 30, 2018, 3:34 am

    Sheath that pen, Poet!
    OK

  4. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    January 30, 2018, 7:05 am

    Israel 1948.
    “All is changed
    Changed utterly
    A terrible ugliness is born”

    With apologies to W.B.Yeats

  5. TerryHeaton
    TerryHeaton
    January 30, 2018, 9:01 am

    The irony here, of course, is that Anne Frank is also a symbol of resistance to a powerful oppressor of freedom, and that identity is far superior to being a rescuer of Jews. Since I am not a Jew, I read her story with other eyes, and I find great similarities between the spirits of Anne Frank and Ahed Tamimi. Miss Frank was in no greater danger than Miss Tamimi, and the struggle of both against a brutal regime is identical. The great blindfold over the eyes of Zionists is that they have become that from which they fled.

    And so it goes…

    • eljay
      eljay
      January 30, 2018, 9:11 am

      || TerryHeaton: … The great blindfold over the eyes of Zionists is that they have become that from which they fled. … ||

      Right down to the self-righteousness of their cause.

  6. Edward Q
    Edward Q
    January 30, 2018, 11:05 am

    Now Geffen needs to write a poem about a Moldovan immigrant.

  7. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    January 30, 2018, 1:19 pm

    @ejay
    “Right down to the self-righteousness of their cause”
    And increasingly their sense of racial superiority over the rest of mankind.

    • January 30, 2018, 3:57 pm

      It is mankind and not just the primitive ignorant Palestinians they claim superiority over – Zionist Israelis that is. Now if we can just get the world to realize that.

  8. genesto
    genesto
    January 30, 2018, 7:44 pm

    Looks like Geffen got Goldstoned!

    • January 31, 2018, 11:05 am

      yet another set of balls go missing

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