Last Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot Hamed al-Masri, 15, in the head, wounding the unarmed boy from Salfit severely. On Friday, soldiers shot the unarmed Mohammed Tamimi, also 15, in the head, wounding the Nabi Saleh boy severely. Also on Friday, soldiers killed Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a double amputee, shooting him in the head, too. On the same day Ahed Tamimi, 16, stood in the courtyard of her home with her girlfriend and slapped an IDF officer who had invaded her home.
Israel woke from its slumber angry: How dare she. The three victims of the barbaric shooting didn’t interest Israelis, and the media didn’t even bother to report on them. But the slap (and kick) by Tamimi provoked rage. How dare she slap an IDF soldier? A soldier whose friends slap, beat, abduct and of course shoot Palestinians almost every day.
She really has chutzpah, Tamimi. She broke the rules. Slapping is permitted only by soldiers. She is the real provocation, not the soldier who invaded her house. She, who had three close relatives killed by the occupation, whose parents have been detained countless times and whose father was sentenced to four months in prison for participating in a demonstration at the entrance to a grocery store – she dared to resist a soldier. Palestinian chutzpah. Tamimi was supposed to fall in love with the soldier who invaded her house, to toss rice at him, but, ingrate that she is, she rewarded him with a slap. It’s all because of the “incitement.” Otherwise she certainly wouldn’t hate her conqueror.
But there are other sources of the unbridled lust for revenge against Tamimi. (Education Minister Naftali Bennett: “She should finish her life in prison.”) The girl from Nabi Saleh shattered several myths for Israelis. Worst of all, she dared to damage the Israeli myth of masculinity. Suddenly it turns out that the heroic soldier, who watches over us day and night with daring and courage, is being pitted against a girl with empty hands. What’s going to happen to our machismo, which Tamimi shattered so easily, and our testosterone?
Suddenly Israelis saw the cruel, dangerous enemy they are confronting: a curly-haired 16-year-old girl. All the demonization and dehumanization in the sycophantic media were shattered at once when confronted by a girl in a blue sweater.
Israelis lost their heads. This is not what they were told. They’re used to hearing about terrorists and terror and murderous behavior. It’s hard to accuse Ahed Tamimi of all that; she didn’t even have scissors in her hands. Where’s the Palestinian cruelty? Where’s the danger? Where’s the evil? You could lose your mind. Suddenly all the cards were reshuffled: For one rare moment the enemy looked so human. Of course you can rely on Israel’s machinery of propaganda and brainwashing, which are so efficient, to assassinate Tamimi’s character soon enough. She too will be labeled a cruel terrorist who was born to kill; it will be said she has no justifiable motives and that there’s no context for her behavior.
Ahed Tamimi is a heroine, a Palestinian heroine. She succeeded in driving Israelis crazy. What will the military correspondents and right-wing inciters and security experts say? Why good are 8200, Oketz, Duvdevan, Kfir and all these other special units if at the end of the day the IDF is confronting a helpless civilian population that is tired of the occupation, embodied by a girl with a kaffiyeh on her shoulder?
If only there were many more like her. Maybe girls like her will be able to shake Israelis up. Maybe the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance, violent and non-violent, have failed.
Meanwhile Israel has reacted the only way it knows how: a nighttime abduction from her home and detention with her mother. But in his heart of hearts, every decent Israeli likely knows not only who is right and who isn’t, but also who is strong and who is weak. The soldier armed from head to toe who invades a house that doesn’t belong to him, or the unarmed girl defending her home and her lost honor with her bare hands, with a slap?