Sep 30, 2022
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Glowingly described as a “freedom fighter,” the “face of Palestinian resistance” and a “heroine,” Ahed Tamimi is perhaps one of the most recognizable Palestinians in the world.

The 21-year-old rose to prominence as a child in 2012 when footage of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers who gently try to shepherd her away went viral online. 

In 2017, Tamimi was jailed for eight months after she was again videoed hitting and shoving IDF soldiers near her home in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh. Under the terms of a plea bargain, she admitted to the aggravated assault of an IDF soldier, incitement to violence and disrupting soldiers on two other occasions.

In the decade since she first went viral, Tamimi has been the subject of thousands of articles and has given countless interviews to starry-eyed journalists (see herehere and here).

Tamimi is once again in the spotlight as she drums up publicity for her new memoir, ‘They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom,’ which tells the story of how she “came of age participating in nonviolent demonstrations against this action and the occupation at large.”

It appears Tamimi’s editors at Penguin Random House have an unusual definition of “nonviolent” considering the blurb proceeds to gush about how her “global renown reached an apex” when she was filmed slapping a soldier.

Helping Tamimi shift copies of the memoir is CNN, which has done a sit-down interview with the “activist” and her co-author, Al Jazeera journalist Dena Takruri.

The problems with the resulting piece begin with the headline, ‘This Palestinian teen went viral for slapping an Israeli soldier. Now she’s telling her own story.’

If anyone was wondering what that story is, we can skip straight to the ending: it is the same story Tamimi has told countless times before. The one where she is repeatedly filmed hitting, kicking and spitting on Israeli soldiers before eventually being arrested and jailed.

The introduction to the interview reads like the foreword to a biography of Joan of Arc:

Palestinians hailed Tamimi as a hero. Israelis called her everything from a troublemaker to a terrorist. Some in the international community positioned her as the face of a new generation taking a stand against militarism and colonialism. For Tamimi, however, it was the culmination of a lifetime of fear, anxiety and trauma.”

Note how interviewer Nadeem Muaddi juxtaposes “troublemaker” against “terrorist.” The two words — whose definitions contrast considerably — serve to paint Israel as confused. An unjust regime that throws all kinds of wild accusations at Tamimi to justify punishing her.

The intro continues:

The book, co-authored by award-winning Al Jazeera journalist Dena Takruri, is the coming-of-age story of a girl whose life has been marked by violence and injustice at nearly every turn, and yet still believes it’s possible to forge a new, peaceful and just reality for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

That Muaddi could even write this passage with a straight face is commendable. After all, far from believing in a “peaceful and just reality for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” Tamimi is a vocal proponent of “stabbings [and] martyrdom operations” against Israelis.

In the 2017 clip of a teenage Tamimi attacking soldiers, which was streamed live on Facebook by her mother, she addressed her viewers with the following violent call-to-arms:

I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this the only means to achieve the result. Our strength is in our stones, and I hope the world will unite to liberate Palestine, because [Donald] Trump made his declaration and [the Americans] need to take responsibility for any response that comes from us. Whether it is stabbings or martyrdom operations or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine.” [emphasis added]

Opening the main body of the interview, Muaddi, in a predictable softball fashion, asks Tamimi how she coped with the “onslaught of attention” after the viral video and her release from prison. 

The choice of the word “onslaught” is striking — one might almost come to believe that the Tamimi family has not gone out of their way over the years to garner as much publicity as possible by, for example, filming each other attacking soldiers in the hope that they provoke a response.

The rest of the questions are similarly banal but effusive: In addition to being a memoir, is this book also a call to action? Is Gen Z, Ahed’s generation, the one that will finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you see yourself as part of a larger, perhaps even global, youth movement that’s challenging the status quo?

CNN might have saved time by forgoing the interview altogether and simply reprinting the press release from the book’s publishers. 

Incredibly, Tamimi’s father Bassem is not mentioned once in the entire piece. Perhaps Muaddi thought better of telling readers that the family patriarch has been detained no fewer than nine times and has been quoted on several occasions expressing his wish that his family sparks a “third intifada.” 

This, of course, refers to the bombing, stabbing and rock-throwing campaigns of guerilla warfare carried out by Palestinians against Israeli civilians.   

Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, apparently shares her husband’s views and has ‘liked’ posts from a Facebook account called “Princess of the Free,” which has a profile picture and cover image of Palestinian terrorist Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, the suicide attacker who perpetrated the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in 2001.

As it transpires, the “Princess of the Free” account appears to belong to the unrepentant accomplice in the Sbarro bombing, Ahlam Tamimi, a relative of the Tamimi family who now lives in Jordan and occasionally gives interviews in which she laments how she did not slaughter more Jewish kids in the massacre.

CNN also fails to question Tamimi about what else — aside from the obvious throwing of rocks — she does to further the Palestinian cause.

Well, it seems her activism has gone as far as the European Parliament when she was invited to an event entitled, ‘The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle’ alongside PFLP terrorist and airplane highjacker Leila Khaled who told a packed audience at the conference that there “cannot be peace while there is even one Zionist on our territory.”

CNN’s puff piece on Tamimi is an example of activism masquerading as journalism: an interviewer who is clearly determined to cast his subject in a favorable light, regardless of whether the facts tell a whole different story.

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Credit: Majdi Mohammed via AP