Why Did A Palestinian Mother Say Support For Her Daughter Is Based On Racism?
Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl who spent eight months in an Israeli prison for slapping two Israeli soldiers, was released last week in what has been described as a PR disaster for Israel.
Ahed’s mother, Nariman, was also imprisoned with her, Vox reported, and their homecoming was recorded by hundreds of journalists, international activists, supporters, and family members who gathered near the family home near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 30 minutes north of Jerusalem.
The slapping incident happened on the family’s property after Israeli soldiers shot Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin with a rubber bullet. By the time she was released from prison, the teen had become an icon of Palestinian resistance.
Protesters held up “Free Ahed” signs in marches, and her image was spray-painted on a West Bank separation barrier, HaAretz reported.
“I see peace as all of us living together without borders, without occupation, all of us equal,” Ahed said during a press conference after her release. “The resistance continues until the occupation ends.”
Ahed has blond hair and blue eyes. Her mother, Nariman, suggested it was her daughter’s looks that attracted the attention — “and that’s racist by the way,” Nariman told Anadolu Agency, according to Middle East Monitor:
“Frankly it is probably Ahed’s looks that prompted this worldwide solidarity and that’s racist by the way,” Nariman said, “because many Palestinian children are in Ahed’s position but weren’t treated in this way.
“In fact one journalist wrote in Haaretz once on why they sympathized with Ahed when they were trying to arrest me once; they arrested me and she was crying,” she explained. “It’s because they felt that she looked like them, she said. So perhaps the world showed more solidarity because she looks like their children, but all Palestinian children are Ahed Tamimi.
“There are thousands of stories that the media needs to pay attention to and highlight all of the occupation’s crimes, because the occupation needs to be seen as the war crime it is and legal measures need to be taken to that effect,” she added.
Ahed’s detention did more damage to Israel’s international image than an initial video of her slapping a soldier ever could, HaAretz reported.
The Tamimi family has a long history of resisting Israel, according to HaAretz. In fact, Ahed is just keeping up with family tradition – “not only by publicly resisting the Israeli occupation, but also by weaponizing Israel’s measures to galvanize world sympathy for the Palestinian cause. (The Israeli media dubbed Ahed Tamimi “Shirley Temper”after she was seen hitting an Israeli soldier back in 2012 and when she was photographed biting another soldier who was trying to arrest her mother in 2015.)”
Critics of the family’s image as a symbol of brave and nonviolent resistance point to stone-throwing incidents, and to family members participating in terrorist activities. “They also highlight social media posts and declarations by the Tamimis that can be interpreted as celebrating violence against Israelis and calling for the Jewish state’s ‘elimination,’ according to HaAretz.