The picture of a then-16-year-old Palestinian girl revealed something that strongly defies the Zionist Project: the fact that the struggle is passed from one generation to another.
By Soraya Misleh.
The future is young and female. Ahed Tamimi, one among the 350 minors currently locked away in Israeli prisons, shows up facing a heavily armed Zionist soldier in a video that went viral. It wasn’t the first time that she bravely stood up to Israel: at only eight years old, she appeared in a photo raising her tiny little hands against the world’s fourth biggest military power.
The raised fists, which are a sign of resistance, are again present in Tamimi’s picture, showing us the bravery of those who refuse to surrender, as well as their righteous rage against continued aggression and occupation. This time, the reason was the shots fired by the Israeli forces against her cousin Mohammed Tamimi. The 15-year-old had his head deformed by the bullet – it was not the only or the last time that the Tamimi family was assaulted, neither is Tamimi the first member of the family to be detained.
The occupation forces’ sarcasm was disguising the cowardice that would surface hours later, before such an act of resistance: In the dawn of December 19th, 30 soldiers invaded her home to arrest her. Since then, her restraining order was renewed several times – so much that Tamimi spent her seventeenth birthday (on January 31) behind dirty bars, a torment to which approximately 6200 political prisoners are condemned, including 59 women. Their crimes are no different from Tamimi’s: resistance to the barbaric Zionist colonization regime, occupation and apartheid.
The arrest of the young Tamimi – and, hours later, of her mother Nariman, – however, has sparked the international outcry. As her heroism acknowledges, the world must also make the most to bring light to the situation of the forgotten majority.
The racist State of Israel blames Ahed Tamimi for 12 crimes – among them, throwing rocks against occupation tanks, which according to the military law can mean over 20 years of detention for Palestinian children.
Hoping to avoid international attention, the Military Court – which rules on the fates of the Palestinian political prisoners – has decided that the court audiences will not be public. On February 13, when her prison period was extended once more and her judgment was postponed to March 11, they expelled the journalists [present in the court room].
In past audiences, there was always a picture of her relentless smile – the one of those who do not surrender. When being questioned about how she hit the heavily armed Israeli soldier, she answered readily: “uncuff me and I’ll show you.”
The young Ahed Tamimi lives in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank, which was occupied by Israeli soldiers in 1967. She is part of the so-called “Oslo’s daughters and sons,” the ones who were born after the disastrous Oslo agreements. Signed in 1993 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), they expanded the colonial expansion. Besides, the Oslo agreements resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority [NPA] which became an “occupation manager,” thus making security cooperation agreements with Israel.
And so, Ahed represents a generation that has seen the downfall of the so-called “peace negotiations” which in no way bring freedom neither guarantee decent life opportunities. This generation knows that resistance is the only way to a peaceful Palestine.
In one of the most recent uprisings, the youngsters such as Tamimi were 40% of those that took to the streets. By doing so, they challenge not only the hideous Israeli occupation but also the idea that Palestinian and Arab women are submissive by nature. It is as if Palestinian Arab women standing out in the resistance is a novelty – idea that has its origins in the Orientalist construction, or in other words, the representation of a barbaric “East” which needs to be dominated by a civilized “West”.
The misrepresentation of women in the Arab world is a powerful means to keep the region under colonial rule. By demolishing it, Ahed Tamimi shows the female face of the Palestinian resistance to the world, making justice to a rich history of female participation in the frontlines of the Palestinian struggle in the wake of Zionist occupation, in the late 19th century.
The sons and daughters of Oslo go even further: they show us the concrete possibility of a fall of the Zionist project towards a secular, democratic, anti-racist, free Palestine – from the river to the sea. Moreover, they invalidate the words of former Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion – architect of the ethnic cleansing in 1948, which led to the creation of the racist state of Israel, when 800,000 Palestinians were removed from their lands and near 500 villages were destroyed – 70 years ago: “The elder will die and the young will forget.”
From the refugee camps in the Arab world – where 5 million Palestinians still live today – to the diaspora, or under occupation, the sons and daughters of this land preserve their identity, their collective memory and echo the words of the resistance poet, Tawfiq Ziyad:
…we won’t leave
And we won’t be ungenerous (?) like our blood
Here we have a past and a present
And here is our future.