Tamimi is a Palestinian teenager who was protesting the occupation of her home by Israeli soldiers — and she is not shy about kicking and slapping these heavily armed men who tower over her.
If you’re wondering why Tamimi is so furious, you haven’t been paying attention. The government of Israel has been following a pattern of brutal oppression for decades.
Two Fridays ago, one week before Ahed chased the soldiers from her yard, it was her cousin Mohammad, one of her little brother’s closest friends. A soldier shot him in the face. The bullet—rubber-coated but a bullet nonetheless—lodged in his skull. A week later, he was still in a medically-induced coma.
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.
Tamimi has now been arrested. Apparently trying to throw soldiers who are occupying your front yard out is a crime so heinous it warrants threats of life imprisonment.
The gulf between the two opposing fantasies that define Israel’s self-image has only grown with the years: a country that still imagines itself to be David to the Arab Goliath—noble, outnumbered, and brave—while taking pride in the unrivaled lethality and sophistication of its military. Ahed made both those convictions crumble. Before the world, she had again revealed Israel to be the bully. And watching that video, they knew that their guns are worthless, their strength a sham. For revealing those secrets, for showing the world how weak and fearful they know themselves to be, Ahed had to be punished. And so the Defense Minister of the country with the most technologically advanced military in the world stooped from his throne to personally promise that not just Ahed and her parents but “everyone around them” would get “what they deserve.” The Minister of Education was more specific: Ahed should be locked up for life, he said, so serious was her crime.
That’s not all. Some Israelis think the appropriate response would be to torture or rape her.
Prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit caused international furor last week, when he wrote in his Maariv article that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.
Israel is our ally, as is Saudi Arabia. When will we wake up and realize that our friends are horrible and abusive, and maybe shouldn’t be our friends?
(Maybe when we wake up and realize the US has been horrible and abusive to its own citizens.)