Teenage Palestinian activist detained unfairly
Over the past month the news of the imprisonment of Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl living in the West Bank, has made international headlines.
Ahed’s act is part of the reaction to larger events that have been taking place over the past year in Palestine and the 51 years of formal colonial-occupation that has suffocated the Palestinians’ ability to reproduce the basic necessities of everyday life.
She was jailed for slapping an Israeli soldier who entered her family’s property just moments after her cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier, which effectively put him in a coma for three days.
Four days after the video of her slapping the soldier spread on social media, Israeli soldiers invaded the Tamimi home and arrested her for “assault.” For posting the video on social media and attempting to visit her daughter in jail Ahed’s mother, Nariman Tamimi, was also arrested and accused of “incitement.” Ahed’s cousin, Nour Tamimi, who is also featured in the video, was arrested as well.
For the act of defending her family and their property from being further violated by the Israeli military, she stands to face trial through an Israeli military-court system that has a conviction rate of nearly 100% for Palestinians and faces up to ten years in prison.
In her village of Nabi Saleh, the residents are surrounded by settlements and Israeli military installations and are constantly threatened by the possibility of further land confiscation; in short, ethnic cleansing is a constant threat.
As residents of a country that was founded on the ethnic cleansing of millions of Native Americans, the implications for a continued ethnic cleansing in Palestine should evoke a historic responsibility in Americans to stand for Palestinian human rights. In 2017 alone, Israel expropriated 2,500 acres of Palestinian land and bulldozed 500 buildings to build Jewish-only settlements, reminiscent of our own settler-colonial past.
Ahed’s show-trial and possible imprisonment reflects the larger system of apartheid within the Israeli legal system. For slapping a soldier in 2010, an Israeli settler, Yifat Alkobi, did not have any of her family members arrested and did not face the possibility of imprisonment; instead, she was allowed to return home and was given community service. An Israeli settler did not have to deal with any of the legal repercussions that Ahed and her family have dealt with nor with the suggestive threats that one Israeli journalist made when he wrote, “We should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark without witnesses and cameras.”
There is a clear line between the treatment of Palestinians, especially women, and Israelis, especially in the media.
There is one legal system for Palestinians and a different legal system for Israelis underneath the same government, and this amounts to apartheid. As apartheid was for South Africans, so it is presently, and more violently, for Palestinians.
For anyone living under settler-colonialism, a system that is inherently violent, the only logical reaction is to defend themselves by any means necessary. Ahed’s hands should not be tied for slapping an occupying soldier whose very presence is a threat to her existence. The violence of the colonized Palestinians will never be equal to the violence of the colonizing Israelis who have been imperializing and ethnically cleansing Palestine since 1948. In short, her act is justified and her cause deserves our complete solidarity.
For Palestinians living under a settler-colonial regime, just existing is an act of resistance, and slapping an occupying soldier is another step towards liberation. As students living in the nation that has done more than any other nation to support the occupation of Palestine, we should protest this action and call for the release of both the Tamimi family and all Palestinian political prisoners.
Staff writer Brant Roberts is a History major. His writings have appeared in The Daily Cougar, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, and Threshold Magazine.