Ahed Tamimi: A young activist you should know about

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Ahed Tamimi is a 17-year-old girl. She is tall and slim, with long, blond, curly hair and gray eyes. She lived in a small Palestinian village called Nabi Saleh, where together she and her female cousin resisted the Israeli occupation of their homeland.

Back in 2012, at the age of 11, she was filmed shouting at an Israeli soldier. “Where is my brother?” she asked him. The same year this video went viral, this girl was invited to meet with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and solidified her status as a prominent figure of the resistance.

In 2015, Tamimi — whom the members of the Israeli occupation had begun to call “Shirley Temper” —  was filmed biting and hitting an Israeli soldier as soldiers arrested her 12-year-old brother, whom they had accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. In 2016, The U.S. denied her a visa to bring a speaking tour titled "No Child Behind Bars/Living Resistance" to this country. And in 2017, she was arrested after kicking, pushing, and slapping two Israeli soldiers who stood near the entrance of her house. Two months later, she stood in an Israeli military court, where she was charged with 12 crimes and received an eight-month jail sentence, in an Israeli jail.

The judge had allowed only her family to attend the trial, despite the large number of people who had wanted to attend. Even after hearing her sentence, Tamimi remained imperturbable, displaying elegance and patience.

While the Western world has paid little attention to the story of Tamimi kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers, the story went viral in the Arab world. Many Arab feminists and human rights activists expressed their indignation and outrage about the imprisonment of a minor, which they considered a human rights violation. These concerns only escalated in April of 2018, when Tamimi’s lawyer claimed that her client had been sexually harassed during an interrogation carried out by an Israeli soldier. In fact, according to the lawyer, the soldier made “creepy attempts of flirting” and told Tamimi in Arabic that she had eyes like an angel.

As a young Arab feminist, I expected the feminist media and feminist activists to cover Tamimi’s story and show some feminist solidarity toward Tamimi’s case and Arab feminists more generally; as a young feminist, I believe that a basic tenet of feminism is for women to stand by each other, even during difficult times. I was waiting for #MeToo activists to cry out in indignation at the news that this activist, who is still legally a child, had been sexually harassed by a male soldier in prison.

Perhaps Tamimi’s story was underreported because she’s not European or American. Maybe the international feminist community doesn’t think her story, her resistance, deserves much attention or recognition. But the reality is that not only is Tamimi’s story of resistance inspiring and worthy of attention, but so is the story of her whole family. Her 17-year old cousin Musaab Tamimi was shot and killed by the Israeli occupation in early 2018, and her 15-year-old cousin Muhammed Tamimi was shot by the Israeli soldiers in December.

Tamimi is more than an emblem of Palestinian unity or a symbol of the resistance, though. She is an inspiring figure for all young feminists to look up to. Without having large platforms from which she could speak, Tamimi did what she could to express her rage and indignation anyway. She has never let fear of oppression prevent her from taking action and fighting to create change. Tamimi reminds us all that feminist activism is not only reserved for the Western world; it can and does happen in the Arab world, too.

More articles by Category: International
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Middle East and North Africa, Women's leadership



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