Ahed Tamimi: now that’s bravery

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.)


  1. birgerjohansson says

    The alt-right will portray her as a terrorist, and a presidential tweet will arrive shortly after.

  2. Zeppelin says

    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?

    Ally =/= friend. I believe it’s dangerous to conflate the two, even for rhetorical purposes. Nation-states don’t have friends, and you don’t choose allies because they’re good people or because you like them.
    (This is not an endorsement of an alliance with Israel or Saudi Arabia.)

  3. says


    Maybe when we wake up and realize the US has been horrible and abusive to its own citizens.

    US has been and is abusive to its own citizens, to its allies, to its enemies, basicaly to everybody who is not kissing US ass and sometimes even to those who are. US is typical abuser – can appear charming and even generous at times when it suits their goals, but whenever the mask slids off the underlying selfishness and disregard for others is plain to see.

    That Israel became another such bully made in USAs image is shameful, but alas real and perhaps inevitable. History repeats itself and will repeat itself.

    The ugly drive under all this is primitive tribalism and tendency to divide the world into us and them, a tendency that sadly permeates all aspects of human society from international affairs to local soccer teams and will not go away any time soon.

  4. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Israel is not an “ally” of the USA; they have NO treaty obligation to join in the defense of the USA.

    The USA is a de-facto ally of Israel, however; providing arms, money and a reliable veto in the UN security council. It’s a one-way alliance.

  5. William Webb says


    – is an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist Jewish State;

    – has been stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land and
    oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians for over 60 years;

    – refuses to honor its obligations under international law;

    – refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for its past and on-going war crimes; and

    – refuses to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

    See http://www.ifamericansknew.org and http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/photos/maps/landloss.html for more information.

  6. lotharloo says

    It is often said that Israel has the right to defend itself. Sure, from Hamas and Hezbollah. However, if Israel wanted peace, they could have had peace but the right-wing rulers of Israel do not want peace. Peace is not great for fearmongering and getting elected to high office. Orwel was a genius in that regard. Perpetual war is so much better.

  7. says

    The Jews were persecuted.
    You would think that might imbue them all with sympathy for the underdog, instead of an apparently gleeful “Now it’s our turn!” from so many of them.

  8. says

    I was fairly neutral on Israel until the Bosnian war. I took part in a march protesting at the international community’s inaction on the war crimes being committed daily. At the same time Israel had deliberately shelled a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. I saw UN soldiers I knew traumatised at having to clean up the death and destruction. On that march I met a Palestinian-Australian teenager who had lost 10 of his cousins in that attack. Israel is a murdering terrorist state and any country that supports it is guilty of sponsoring terrorism.

  9. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Nation-states don’t have friends, and you don’t choose allies because they’re good people or because you like them.

    Maybe that’s part of the problem.

  10. says

    It is often said that Israel has the right to defend itself. Sure, from Hamas and Hezbollah.

    It is often said, but “it’s more complicated than that.” I don’t think that people should get away lightly with saying that – and here’s why. Israel is an occupying power. The civilians in the occupied areas have a right to resist – the occupier is not their legitimate government and the only basis by which it can claim obedience is force. Whether that right to resist is honored, or not, is obviously another question. In the case of Israel, it doubles down on the repression – not only is it an occupier that governs through military power, it engages in collective punishment in order to compel obedience. Under the Nuremberg charter, that’s a crime against humanity.

    Israel’s “right” to defend itself is not really self-defense, it’s a continuation of aggression – there is no “right” there.

    Now, it is a fact that Israel will defend itself against resistance. So, there’s that.

    During the post-WWII reconstruction of Europe anti-nazi non-government resistance such as the French resistance were applauded for their insurgency operations against the nazi occupation. Nazis who engaged in reprisals against French civilians (collective punishment) were considered to be war criminals. When France fell, enraged French citizens and resistance members who were not part of uniformed French government military units, hanged and shot nazi occupiers (and collaborators) without trial – and this was considered justice; no effort was made to bring them to trial. So, we applaud the French resistance but the Palestinian resistance are expected to submit to their occupiers? By the same token, we violently eradicated the Iraqi resistance to US occupation by calling them “terrorists” and “militias” – in fact, as problematic as it is, the Fedayeen Saddam were a paramilitary resistance force established by the Iraqi government before it was overthrown. The US in Iraq, like the nazis in France, engaged in collective punishment and reprisals – such as the destruction of Fallujah.

    The media, in their role as “lap-dogs for authority” would call what the nazis did, “war crimes” but what the US and Israel do, “self-defense.” But it’s all “war crimes.”

  11. says

    Shorter me: If I break into your house, and you try to get me to leave, I do not have a right of “self-defense” that includes shooting you.

    Unfortunately, authoritarian regimes have tried to establish that principle and it’s been accepted unquestioning, so long as the “self-defense” is going the “right” direction at any given moment.

  12. busterggi says

    “The government of Israel has been following a pattern of brutal oppression for decades.”

    I would say the Jews learned a lot from the Nazis but I’ve read the OT.

  13. Zeppelin says

    Azkyroth: I don’t see how it’s possible, even in theory, for a bureaucratic-political organisation like a state (or for a social organisation like a people or tribe, for that matter) to have “friends”. Friendship is a personal, emotional bond. Institutions don’t have emotions or even opinions, individuals do.

    As to choosing your allies — yes, obviously that’s part of the problem. But it’s not going to go away until nation-states do. And until then it’s not useful to conflate “friend” and “ally” just because we’d like them to be synonymous.

  14. says

    Tabby Lavalamp@#17:
    If the US doesn’t postpone the drills, well, we already know that American imperialism doesn’t respect the sovereignty of other nations.

    ‘We’ already ignored the S. Koreans’ attempt to say they only wanted 3 THAAD batteries. The US miltary just went ahead and installed 6. That caused some awkwardness when the S. Koreans realized that they had twice as many as they had decided to allow. Basically, “sovereignty? wossname?”

  15. rietpluim says

    Also, I think it’s disturbing that Jews are supposed to be better because of their history of suffering. They don’t have to be better, they just have to be good like anybody else. Saints are not needed. Basic human decency should suffice.

  16. jack16 says

    Anti-Zionism is an excellent idea. Also opposition to any religious state. There’s no excuse for genocide.