“Out of our lands”! Palestinian girl won’t turn the other cheek


Israel has this unique ability to convert its own atrocities on Palestinians into victimhood, especially when their actions are met with bold retorts.

Courage is the word that best describes Palestinian rebuttal of Israel’s bullying tactics and military malice. The 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi was arrested after being filmed assaulting security forces. The soldiers had entered the compound of a Palestinian home to stop protests and block Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists nearby. The Israeli media wantonly allowed the media to video the scene which showed the young woman shoving, kicking and slapping the soldiers before demanding they leave the scene. It was a cynical prtence of tolerance.

Ahed Tamimi is no ordinary young woman. She has previously confronted Israeli soldiers with courage and a militancy that shows she won’t brook nonsense from the occupation authorities. When the video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral on social media two weeks ago, it generated opposing reactions from Israelis and Palestinians. Ahed Tamimi is now something of a folk hero for her act of defiance and bravery. After all, she was merely asking the soldiers to quit Palestinian land and had every right to make that demand. What were Israeli cars doing on Palestinian land with military protection in any case?  And what were they doing in the compound of a Palestinian home? You cannot intrude into other people’s land and expect to be given a warm cup of coffee!

Right-wing Israelis opine that the soldier showed weakness, even cowardice in not striking back. But one view suggests the soldier knew the incident was being captured on video and thought it useful to win a PR victory for the Israeli army portraying themselves as patient and reasonable.  The Israeli army claimed he “acted professionally” through showing self-control. Some ask: Was he startled out of his wits and stunned into inaction?

Writing in the Haaretz, Gideon Levy poses some audacious questions. “Wouldn’t you have been proud of her, like her father, who, in an op-ed that commands respect, voiced that pride? Wouldn’t you have wanted a daughter like that, who exchanged her nonexistent youth for a courageous struggle for liberty? Or would you have preferred a daughter who was a collaborator”? (https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.8320650)

And he adds: “And what would you have felt if soldiers from a foreign army had invaded your home at night, kidnapped your daughter from her bed before your very eyes, handcuffed and arrested her for a lengthy period, simply because she slapped the soldier who invaded her home, and slapped the occupation, which deserves far more than slaps”?

The Tamimi protest disturbs many minds and people ponder whether it is time for more courageous and militant approaches to people’s struggles. After all, power is never known to part with power voluntarily. It does so only when pressured and countered. Ahed Tamimi today stands indicted in a shameless display of Israel’s utter stupidity and arrogance. The court charged Ahed Tamimi with aggravated assault of an Israeli soldier and obstructing a soldier from carrying out his duty.

What was his duty? To protect thieves in land they had stolen from their original owners? The absurdity does not end there.  A top Israeli journalist called for raping Ahed Tamimi. The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was equally dim-witted. He called for her to spend all of her life in prison. The occupation has assumed irrational proportions and the madness never ends. Israel risks turning her into the “Palestinian Joan of Arc”, as Haaretz noted.

Israel is turning innocent children into angry citizens. The young who have experienced being dragged into jails and tortured, or had their parents and siblings killed in front of their very own eyes, or witnessed their houses torn down by multinational machinery given to Israel via handout-aid packages will never forget what they saw and the feelings they experienced. The images of Israeli horrors will always remain etched in their hearts and minds. It is anyone’s guess what they will grow into as a result. But Israel had better see sense in these sporadic acts of resistance such as that of Ahed Tamimi and know there is more daring and tenacity yet to come.

This was not a minor case of the soldier turning the other cheek. It was she who decided she would not turn the other cheek because they were wandering inside her compound. It is called trespassing and you pay the price when you trespass.  The occupier is the original criminal. The time has long past when one turns the other cheek when assaulted. It’s time to assert that the first cheek was bad enough and wrong enough. Here’s a punch and a kick in return: “Out of our lands”!

Ranjan Solomon