They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom – Book Review

They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom, by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri. (Photo: Book Cover)

By Lois Griffiths

(They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom, by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri, One World, 2022)

Ahed Tamimi and journalist Dena Takruri tell Ahed ‘s story.

Ahed was born in the small village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank.

“We have a school, a mosque, a little market and a gas station.

“Most important, we have each other.

“The 600 residents of my village are all related by blood or marriage, part of the extended Tamimi family”.

So begins Ahed Tamimi’s narrative of growing up in Nabi Saleh.

Her early memories are of playing ‘Army and Arabs’ (a Palestinian version of cowboys and Indians), of splashing in the village spring, of wanting to become a football player, of her once-only trip to the sea when occupation restrictions were temporarily relaxed.

But the Israeli occupation forces children to grow up early. As a small child, she was aware that her father was often away, under arrest for trying to protest the encroachment of an illegal Zionist settlement on the village’s land and water resources.

Her father, determined to prevent Nabi Saleh from being swallowed up, organized weekly non-violent protest marches. The protests received media attention and grew. The Israeli army, determined to bring them to a halt, reacted violently, even breaking into houses, and throwing tear gas into houses.

An Israeli soldier shot Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin Mohammad in the head at close range.

Ahed was so enraged that when two soldiers started to break into her family’s property, she argued with them, telling them to go away and then hitting one of the soldiers.

The ‘slap’ was caught on video and went viral. 16-year-old Ahed was arrested, put on trial, and imprisoned. This incident, the ‘slap’, became a cause célèbre.

There is more to the story, including her experiences in prison, the humiliations, and other cruelty.

I hope I’ve written enough to convince you to read this very special book.

‘They Called Me a Lioness’ is the story of one person. But it is also the story of a people, a people who love life and who want to live in freedom.

As all people do.

– Lois Griffiths is a Human Rights Activist from Christchurch, Aotearoa/NZ. Lois and her husband Martin follow closely what’s happening in the Middle East, ever since their first of four trips to Israel and the West Bank, in 2009. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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