Palestinian teen in ‘slap video’ back at center of propaganda war

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi wearing a dress made of the traditional Palestinian cloth during a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land to expand the Jewish settlement of Halmish in the occupied West Bank in this Aug. 6, 2010 photo. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017

Palestinian teen in ‘slap video’ back at center of propaganda war

JERUSALEM: Ahed Tamimi is only a teenager, but has repeatedly been at the center of the seemingly endless propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians, with a video of her slapping soldiers the latest example.
Tamimi, 16 and recognizable by her shock of blonde hair, has been held up by Palestinians and other supporters as a brave opponent of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
A years-old photograph of her raising her fist at a soldier was widely published and led to her being received by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012.
She was also photographed while wearing a Tweety Bird shirt and biting the hand of an Israeli soldier in 2015 to try to stop the arrest of a brother.
But for Israeli officials, she is being made to star in staged provocations by her family, prominent activists who have been at the forefront of protests in their village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah.
The latest incident led to her arrest on Dec. 19 along with that of her mother and cousin. She has been detained since and is due to appear in military court again later Thursday.
The three appeared in a video that went viral after it was recorded on Dec. 15 in Nabi Saleh.
It showed Tamimi and her cousin approaching two Israeli soldiers before shoving, kicking and slapping them.
The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.
They then move backward after Tamimi’s mother Nariman becomes involved.
Tamimi’s father argues that her blonde hair and Western dress have contributed to the attention she has received.
“If she was veiled and dark-skinned, would she have got the same attention?” Bassem Tamimi told AFP.
“The Zionist propaganda machine always depicts the Palestinian as dark-skinned and ugly, attacking the blonde victim, but now she is blonde.”
Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US and currently a deputy minister for diplomacy, accused the Tamimis of using children as pawns, however.
“The Tamimi family — which may not be a real family — dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke (Israeli) troops on camera,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!”
Since her arrest early on Dec. 19, responses from either side could not be further apart.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called her father and commended the family’s resistance against Israel’s occupation, official news agency WAFA reported.
Supporters have accused Israeli authorities of arresting a teenager who was only standing up for the rights of her fellow Palestinians.
The incident occurred during a day of clashes across the West Bank against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Violence since Trump’s decision has left 12 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces.
The Tamimi family says a relative was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during protests on Dec. 15.
Israelis were divided over the viral video, with some praising the soldiers’ restraint and others saying it showed weakness and merited a tougher response.
Bassem Tamimi describes his daughter as “shy,” but “someone who is mature enough to reject the occupation responsibly.”
She had in the past wanted to become a professional football player, but has since decided to study law to defend her family and village against an Israeli occupation that has lasted more than 50 years, he said.
Regarding criticism of his family, Bassem Tamimi said “we don’t have to respond or defend ourselves,” calling it an attempt to distract from their cause.
But he said he fears his daughter will be imprisoned over the latest incident, particularly because it has become “a case of public opinion” in Israel.

Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

Updated 1 min 56 sec ago

Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

  • Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms
  • Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces prevented the arrival of hundreds of protesters at the French ambassador’s residence and the French Embassy in Lebanon on Friday.

They feared the recurrence of riots similar to the ones that erupted in front of the Danish Embassy in Ashrafieh, Beirut, in 2006, and led to 28 people being injured, damage to storefronts, and the burning of the consulate building and terrorizing of people.

A few hundred worshippers left mosques after Friday prayers and marched to defend the Prophet Muhammad.

Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms.

Khaldoun Qawwas, Dar Al-Fatwa’s media spokesperson, told Arab News: “These groups have nothing to do with Dar Al-Fatwa, which has already announced its position regarding what happened in France in two separate statements.”

Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, the grand mufti of Lebanon, in a statement issued a week earlier, said that “freedom of opinion and expression does not entail insulting the beliefs and symbols of others, and this requires a reconsideration of the concept of absolute freedom.”

He stressed the “renunciation of violence and confrontation of radicalism and terrorism that has no religion or race.”

Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut, since the embassy and the French ambassador’s residence are located where roads leading to the city’s western and eastern neighborhoods intersect. This led to a huge traffic jam in the capital.

The protest’s starting point was the Gamal Abdel Nasser Mosque in Al-Mazraa, situated only a few kilometers from the Residence des Pins (Pine Residence).

Three major security checkpoints — one set up by the riot police — separated the Residence des Pins and protesters, some of whom were transported by buses from the north of Lebanon to Beirut.

Protesters held Islamic signs and chanted slogans denouncing France, its President Emmanuel Macron and its former colonization of the country. Some protesters tried to remove barbed wire and threw stones, water bottles and batons at the security forces. Another group burned the French flag. Security forces responded by throwing tear gas canisters, leading to the retreat of the protesters.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Supreme Council of the Roman Catholic condemned “the terrorist attack in the French city of Nice.”

The council considered that “this terrorist crime has nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. It is an individual act carried out by terrorists haunted by radicalism, obscurantism and the rejection of the French people’s historical civilizational values. Through their acts, they abuse the spirit of tolerance, coexistence, acceptance of the other and the freedom of thought and belief which all religions call for.”

The council called for “staying away from defaming religions and beliefs and inciting hate and resentment among people, raising the voice of moderation, wisdom and reason, working together in the spirit of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together announced by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb from the UAE last year.”

During the Friday sermon, Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan condemned “any criminal act against any people, including the French people.” He added: “We categorically reject what happened in Nice yesterday, strongly condemn it and consider it a blatant and insolent attack on Muslims before others.”

He simultaneously condemned “the official French position that affronted the Prophet, took lightly and made light of the feelings of millions of Muslims.”