By Marion Kawas
The narrative of Ahed Tamimi, who has recently become the face of Palestinian child prisoners, reached a new low on the first day of 2018; Israel insisted that they will be charging the teenager and given the record of “Israeli justice”, that means she will almost certainly serve jail time. Ahed’s fate is the same as that of all the young Palestinian detainees, born into occupation and tyranny, having lived through a “butchered childhood”.
The story of Ahed reminds me of the young girl, perhaps 12 or 13, who narrated a lot of the movie “Jenin, Jenin” and faces the camera at the end of the movie to tell us in the most chilling terms, that she plans to fight for her people and will never forget nor surrender. She also adds: “I saw dead bodies, I saw houses destroyed, I saw sights which cannot be described…and now, after they ruined all my dreams and hopes-I have no life left!” That sequence of the movie has stayed with me since I first saw it in 2003.
And this really is the most crucial point surrounding Ahed Tamimi’s case and what it represents. These kids, forced to be mature beyond their years, never had a choice in being under Israeli occupation or colonization. They have had their childhood stolen, their lives brutalized since day one by Israeli soldiers, their families decimated and harassed by the Israeli state. So, the question of how and why a young girl would stand up to her Israeli oppressors is redundant, we might only marvel that she still has hope that communicating with the world is worthwhile. That she still has hope that the world has a conscience.
Because up to this point, the international community has been worse than negligent in calling Israel to account for any of its abuses against political prisoners, but especially child prisoners. And in Ahed’s case there is ample evidence that her jailors wish her harm, from the Israeli Minister of “Education” who wants her to serve a life sentence to thinly veiled suggestions of sexual assault from an Israeli journalist. With very few exceptions, the countries that could exert influence on Israel have either been openly complicit (like Canada and the U.S.) or engage in the worst form of hypocrisy like the EU nations, with nice-sounding platitudes while carrying on business as usual.
I remember the infamous quote by former Israeli PM Golda Meir, where she stated: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”
What a profound level of arrogance, and racism! Its almost impossible to comprehend the implied level of supremacy in this sentiment. And now of course, with the full backing of the U.S. government, this arrogance is matched with impunity.
We could more correctly ask: When will Israeli parents stop sending their children to be cannon fodder for a militaristic state gone berserk, forcing them to commit war crimes against other children even younger? And when will Israel value their children more than they fear the supposed demographic and existential threat of the Palestinian people and nation?
The words of the young girl in the movie Jenin, Jenin were said to “damn the continued occupation and its inhumanity” more than the devastating physical damage to the Jenin refugee camp. And this is the real impact of Ahed Tamimi as well. Her words, her story, her harassment by the Israeli military are an indictment of everything that is wrong with what Israel represents. The world did not listen well in 2002 to the young girl from Jenin; will they pay attention this time to the teenager from Nabi Saleh?
– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.cpavancouver.org.