Here’s a short blog from Jamie Stern-Weiner that turned up in my email this morning. In fact, I spotted this news yesterday evening in a tweet from RT – you know, the ‘Kremlin-backed’ Russia Today, which the UK media and politicians regard as a sinister propaganda outfit. We can only speculate why Vladimir Putin decided to report a public comment by the British Foreign Minister, Alistair Burt, which our own, balanced media judged irrelevant. Sowing the seeds of conflict, I guess, or perhaps just toying with us for his own perverse amusement.

Indeed, I did a quick search just now which confirmed that the UK press – from the rabidly anti-Palestinian Telegraph to the ‘Murdoch-backed’ Times to the smug Guardian and the pompous BBC – didn’t think Burt’s comments, or the House of Commons exchange about Ahed Tamimi in which they were made, were newsworthy at all.

I suppose this isn’t surprising given their collective silence on yesterday’s pronouncement by Israel’s Agriculture Minister that ‘The Time Has Come for Dead Palestinians.’ Nor for that matter did they bother reporting comments last month by the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock urging the UK government to ‘put a cost on Israeli violations of international law.’ ‘We in this House can no longer stand by and do nothing,’ Kinnock said. To be fair, they probably didn’t want to confuse their audience by mentioning Israel’s serial violations of international law which they hadn’t reported in the first place.

Here’s a quote from Burt:

‘The truth is that the soldiers should not be there and the young woman should not have needed to do what she did.’

And here’s the rest.

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Two weeks ago a Palestinian teenager named Ahed Tamimi was arrested after slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier on her family’s property in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.

Some of you might already be familiar with Ahed, whose image made the rounds on social media a couple of years ago when she fought off Israeli soldiers attempting to arrest her younger brother, whose broken arm was in a cast.

And here is a 2012 video of young Ahed demanding of Israeli soldiers, “where is my brother?”

As for the slapping incident, the Canadian activist David Kattenburg sums it up in a letter to his MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette:

“Ahed was arrested at her home on the night of December 19, without charge, following a now well-publicized incident in which she kicked and slapped an Israeli soldier who had entered her family’s property and refused to leave. The Tamimis — and the village of Nabi Saleh — are well known for their weekly popular protests against Israel’s apartheid regime, and specifically, in response to the seizure of their lands and ancestral spring by the unlawful Jewish settlement of Halamish.”

Kattenburg continues, “their protests (I attended one last May) are routinely greeted with tear gas grenades, high velocity teargas cannisters, “skunk” water (smells like sewage), rubber bullets and live rounds. Two members of Ahed’s family have been killed in the course of their protests. Days before the slapping incident, Ahed’s 15 year-old cousin received a rubber bullet in his face. He was placed in an induced coma prior to surgery, and may or may not be recovering.

“Ahed has now been charged with assaulting an Israeli soldier, among other crimes against Israel’s permanent military occupation, and stands to receive a hefty sentence. The vast majority [99.7% to be precise] of Palestinians charged under Israeli military law are convicted (in contrast, a Jewish settler who brutally assaulted Israeli pacifist Rabbi Arik Ascherman with a knife and his fists recently received a sentence of ‘community service’. Very typical).”

(It’s worth noting that Kattenburg, the son of holocaust survivors, is in the midst of a legal challenge against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency over its mislabelling of settlement wines as ‘Made in Israel’. Given that Justin Trudeau’s government has remained in lock step with the execrable Harper regime on Israel-Palestine, contradicting Canadian foreign policy by voting against Palestinian self-determination and rejecting condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlements at the UN, I’m doubtful Kattenburg’s letter will receive the meaningful response it deserves.)

Besides the context, the timing of Ahed’s arrest, which took place four days after the slapping incident itself, is significant. As Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Haaretz,

“The order to arrest Tamimi, four days after the incident and only after the video of her altercation with the officer had been broadcast on the nightly television shows, was an exercise in damage control and in satisfying the urge of the Israeli public to somehow expunge the humiliation. A Palestinian girl slapping an IDF officer was a national insult that could only be soothed by the pictures of her being taken from her home by female Border Police officers in full body armor.”

 

Since then, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett has urged the courts to jail Ahed for life, while the Israeli journalist Ben Caspit made the sinister suggestion that, ‘in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.’

Her fearlessness has earned Ahed the admiration of Palestinians and their supporters, and the profound hatred and contempt of most Israelis, who have dubbed her “Shirley Temple”. They accuse the Tamimi family of exploiting social media by manufacturing compelling images, as though they need making up. As Pfeffer wrote, ‘there simply is no way to stage manage a telegenic occupation.’ And in a textbook example of projection, they accuse the blonde blue-eyed teenager of not really being Palestinian (my Lebanese father has startling blue eyes and was white blonde as a child), thereby also exposing their own racism. After all, the Israeli claim to our loyalty resides in the colonialist argument that they are “like us”, as contrasted with the swarthy and barbaric natives who surround them. Clearly, Ahed Tamimi’s appearance threatens Israeli spin as much as her fists.

Since 19th December, much has been written about Ahed and Nabi Saleh, although naturally little critical commentary or contextual analysis has made its way into the mainstream press. Here are a few of the best pieces I’ve seen, with excerpts and links.

We Will Continue to Resist Israel’s Occupation as a Family by Bassem Tamimi (Newsweek)

“Earlier this year, a 20-year-old young man was shot in the stomach and killed during a demonstration in support of Palestinians on hunger strike inside Israeli prisons. Five years ago, my wife’s brother Rushdie was shot in the back and killed by a soldier during a demonstration against Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Two years later, on the anniversary of his death, my wife was shot in the leg. Nariman has also developed asthma as a result of breathing tear gas.

Ahed is a strong, fearless girl, and I am proud of my daughter’s steadfastness, but when I saw her sitting in the Israeli military court I felt helpless and scared for her. I am a parent and everything I do is to protect my children and to make sure they can live happily and freely one day. No matter what I believe about perseverance and pride, in the end, I’m a father and it pains me greatly to see my beautiful child imprisoned in a military court that sees and treats Palestinians as less than human.”

Ahed Tamimi Has Become the Symbol of a New Generation of Palestinian Resistancee by Ben Ehrenreich (The Nation)

“If you’ve seen the video that led to her arrest, you might have wondered why Ahed was so angry at the soldiers who entered her yard, why she yelled at them to leave, why she slapped them. That’s why. That and a thousand other reasons. Her uncle and her cousin killed. Her mother shot in the leg and on crutches for most of a year. Her parents and her brother taken from her for months at a time. And never a night’s rest without the possibility that she might wake, as she did early Tuesday morning, as she had so many times before, to soldiers at the door, in her house, in her room, there to take someone away…

Ahed Tamimi was not jailed for breaking the law—Israel, in its governance of the land it occupies, shows little regard for legality. She was arrested because she was all over the news, and the public and the politicians were demanding that she be punished.

They used words like “castrated” and “impotent” to describe how they felt when they looked at that soldier with his helmet and his body armor and his gun and at the kid in the pink T-shirt and blue windbreaker who put him to shame. For all their strength, power, wealth, and arrogance, she had put them all to shame.”

Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism by Lisa Goldman (+972 Magazine)

“These are just a few of the things I saw in Nabi Saleh.

Once, I was standing on the roof of a home with three teenage girls who lived there. We were watching the demonstration from a bit of a distance — maybe 150 meters. Suddenly one of the soldiers standing down the road pivoted in our direction, raised his weapon, aimed, and shot tear gas canisters directly at us. He shot another couple of canisters at the house, shattering the living room window. The older girl told me that her family had stopped replacing it every time the soldiers broke it; the glass had become too expensive.

I also witnessed soldiers deliberately blanketing a small house in tear gas until its occupants, coughing and retching long streams of mucus, were forced to emerge. They were two elderly women, wrinkled and bent over, and a young woman in her twenties.

I’ve seen soldiers grab crying children and shove them into military vehicles, pushing aside their screaming mothers.

I’ve seen soldiers grab a young woman by her arms and drag her like a sack of potatoes for several meters along an asphalt road so hot that it melted the rubber soles of my running shoes, before tossing her into a military vehicle and driving away.

I’ve had my ankles singed black when a security officer looked me straight in the eyes and threw a stun grenade at my legs.

2018: The Year of Primary Sources by Marilyn Garson (Haaretz and Contrapuntal blog)

“Then a Gazan double amputee waved a flag before another wall. He was unarmed, far away from well-armed Israeli soldiers. When he was targeted, shot and killed by an IDF sniper, did your sense of justice join him on that field?

He was one of a dozen killed in these protests so far. Ahed Tamimi in military custody at the age of 16 years, and her 14-year-old cousin, comatose after being shot in the face; they are among an unconscionable number of child victims.

This violence is too debased. You are not immune to other suffering, so how can be a spectator at the suffering inflicted in your name? How can you not weigh in, with your numbers and your influence and your organizations, to arrest this accumulation of new pain, and bring a healing peace one step closer?

Or did you think you are not implicated?”

And if Ahed Tamimi were your daughter? by Gideon Levy (Haaretz)

“She could be your daughter, or your neighbor’s daughter, yet the abuse she suffers rouses no feelings of solidarity, compassion or basic humanity. After the outburst of anger over what she dared to do came the imperviousness. She’s a “terrorist.” She couldn’t have been our daughter; she’s a Palestinian…

If even Tamimi doesn’t manage to rouse feelings of solidarity, shock or guilt here, then the process of denial, concealment and repression – the occupation’s most important enterprise, after the settlements – is finally complete.”

“Never has there been such horrifying apathy here, never have the self-deception and the lies prevailed here so completely and never have there been so few moral qualms here in the face of injustice. Never has incitement won out so completely.”

Israeli military forces ransacked several homes and a medical center in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, before dawn on Saturday, locals said.

According to locals, soldiers broke into al-Sadaq Medical Clinic, in the al-Madbasa neighborhood at the center of Bethlehem, removing the clinic’s main door and confiscating equipment.

The medical clinic is a part of al-Ihsan Charitable Association, it was added.

Read more here: Israeli Forces Raid Bethlehem Medical Center

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