Media Analysis

Sarah Silverman stands by Ahed Tamimi: ‘Do you wonder where her rage comes from?’

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After comedian Sarah Silverman called last week for people “to stand up” for imprisoned Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, she quickly encountered a barrage of feedback that lasted through the weekend. Some applauded, some criticized, some sought to educate Silverman, who has a history of supporting groups opposed to Israel’s occupation.

The comic retweeted a call from Amnesty International for Tamimi to be freed from jail, two months after she slapped a soldier.

In the backlash, journalist Noah Pollak accused Silverman of “narcissistic Hollywood political posturing at its vilest and most ignorant” while pro-Israel activist Chloé Valdary wrote to Silverman, Tamimi is from a “notorious terrorist-supporting family.”

Silverman reacted with,

“Ok, friend. But may I ask, do you wonder why she has done this? And where her rage comes from? And might we see ourselves in her in any way?”

Tamimi, 17, was arrested last December 19 in the early morning hours at her family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. She has since been indicted on five counts of assault and incitement. Her case has gained prominence because supporters say the teen is subject to an unfair Israeli military court system that issues harsh sentences to Palestinians.

In the actual incident that led to Tamimi’s arrest, the petite teen on December 15 shouted at an Israeli soldier entering her family’s property, “Get out or I’ll punch you,” and then slapped him. The encounter, which followed the shooting of Tamimi’s cousin Mohammed that day, in Jerusalem-related protests, was filmed by Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman, and the two shared the footage on social media, which landed them both additional charges of incitement.

Silverman is the latest with a high profile to back Tamimi. Earlier this month 27 celebrities signed a letter seeking Tamimi’s release. But Silverman stands apart by being the most well-known of the supporters with ties to Israel, through both family and support to liberal causes. Her older sister Susan Silverman is a prominent rabbi in Israel and campaigner most known for calling for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall in the Old City– including in many demonstrations.

Sarah Silverman has twice performed in the Jewish state. In one of her shows she mentioned Palestinians must wait in long lines at checkpoints in order to enter Israel. Last year she contributed to a Passover Hagadah that called to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. In the 2012 and 2015 elections in Israel she endorsed the Meretz party, a left-wing group that is opposed to Israel’s occupation (and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state. Her views have been shared over social media for years. As late as last December, she set her Twitter location to “state of Palestine.”

In the Twitter-storm over Tamimi, Silverman reposted a list of organizations that back Palestinian rights, and an article by the left-Jewish group IfNotNow that criticizes Zionism. IfNotNow invited her to attend a meeting with them in-person in Los Angeles.

Here’s a screen shot of part of a text exchange Silverman had with fellow comedian Jen Jajah:

At one point Silverman posted, “I keep thinking about what @DaveChappelle says in “The Bird Revelation” about South Africa, Steven Biko, and how the end of apartheid should have been a blood bath but wasn’t, and why.”

None of this kept her from being called vile and a supporter of terrorism.

Though she has gotten support.


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If you have not already, go to Sarah Silverman’s Twitter account and read the intense flack she is getting for standing up for Ahed Tamimi. Both need all the help of any kind you can give, even if its just a comment less RT.

My respect for Ms. Silverman increases.

The flack she’s getting from so-called jews is disgusting. They are epitomizing everything jews are supposed to fight against – injustice, hatred, racism, etc., etc. Ms. Silverman is standing tall to each and every one of the trolls on her twitter page – not with anger, vulgarity, hatred, but honesty and integrity and that mirror she is holding up for them so they can see how awful hatred looks.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz foresaw the moral and political dangers involved in the occupation. The occupation Leibowitz objected to was the military occupation, even before it gained its settler aspect. Ahed Tamimi lives in Nabi Saleh and the occupation she confronts is a settler occupation; the settlement Halamish nearby has taken Nabi Saleh’s well or spring and this has been the core of the protests. The settler occupation, because it establishes two sets of laws, one for… Read more » “I’m Ahed Tamimi’s cousin. Israel needs to stop imprisoning kids like her.” By Nour Tamimi February 13 Washington Post Nour Tamimi is a journalism student and activist from Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank. “I had barely fallen asleep when I woke to find an armed Israeli soldier hovering over my bed. He told me to get up quickly and put on a jacket. Half asleep, I was handcuffed, thrown into an army… Read more »