Opinion |

Ahed Tamimi and Her Family Aren't the Palestinian Saints You Want Them to Be

Promote the blood libel? Check. Glorify terrorism? Check. Celebrate Israeli deaths? Check. Ahed Tamimi and her family aren't fighting for peace, and they're not just fighting the occupation: They're fighting to destroy Israel, and their fight is seasoned with Jew-hatred

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Screenshot of Manal Tamimi's tweet from Nov 5 2015, now deleted
Screenshot of Manal Tamimi's tweet from Nov 5 2015, now deletedCredit: Manal Tamimi tweet @screamingtamimi

At the end of September 2017, Ahed Tamimi was one of the speakers at a conference hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels. Among Ahed’s co-panelists was 'pioneering' airline hijacker Leila Khaled, who told the audience: "The Nazis were tried in Nuremberg for their crimes. Today, Israel is experiencing impunity. You must bring the war criminals to justice and tell your governments that they must cease all cooperation with the Zionist state."

Ahed Tamimi reportedly "also emphasized the importance of the boycott," and declared: "The world must recognize the Palestinian cause. The occupation is not only the theft of land. We oppose racism, Zionism, the entire system of occupation and not only the settlements."

The 16-year-old Ahed was faithfully echoing the views her father has expressed repeatedly. In a lengthy interview with Haaretz in February 2013, Bassem Tamimi claimed that "Israel has killed the two-state solution."

>> The Story Behind Ahed Tamimi's Slap: Her Cousin's Head Shattered by Israeli Soldier's BulletWhat Happened When a Jewish Settler Slapped an Israeli Soldier

Detail from a video showing the Tamimi family fighting to release their son Mohammed from a soldier’s grip at the weekly demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh, August 28 2015. Credit: AP

He explained further: "My consciousness has changed and it has taken me to the one-state solution, which means the acceptance not the removal of the Other. In the past I wanted all of this land without any Israelis. Today, I also accept the Israelis. If we can all change our consciousness, we can create a just country."

The sincerity of Bassem Tamimi’s claim that he now also accepts the Israelis is obviously doubtful – after all, he accepts only those Israelis who would be willing to give up the Zionist vision of Israel as a Jewish state. Moreover, if Bassem Tamimi just wanted peaceful co-existence, a two-state solution would arguably be more promising than the one-state solution he advocates.

There is no doubt that Bassem Tamimi and his activist relatives accept devoted anti-Zionist Israelis like Miko Peled, who can always be counted on to defend Hamas almost as ardently as he denounces Israel.

But as I have documented in considerable detail over the past two years, the social media activity of the Tamimis reveals ardent Jew-hatred and enthusiastic support for terrorism – notably including terror attacks targeting civilians and children.

In October 2015, Bassem Tamimi faced a backlash when he shared a Facebook post promoting "a viral anti-Semitic meme alleging Israelis detain Palestinian children to steal their organs, and that Zionists control the media to suppress this information."

This post was all the more remarkable given the fact that Bassem Tamimi regularly encourages his own children to confront Israeli soldiers, and has frequently advocated the participation of children in protests and demonstrations.

The Free Ahed Tamimi poster on a bus shelter in London, December 2017.Credit: Screengrab from @proteststencil

Bassem Tamimi has also made clear that he appreciates the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah for fighting against Israel, and he has rewarded a post glorifying the Hamas Al Qassam brigades on his daughter's Facebook page with a "Like."

Since Bassem Tamimi has often emphasized how important women are for the "resistance" he advocates, it is instructive to see that two of the most prominent female activists in his family are utterly uncompromising in their support for terrorism.

Nariman Tamimi – Bassem’s wife and Ahed’s mother – hardly ever fails to take to Facebook after a terrorist attack to praise the perpetrator as a hero. The frightening depth of Nariman Tamimi’s hatred is reflected in a Facebook post she shared from a Tamimi family member in June 2016.

That post honored the teenage Palestinian terrorist who had just killed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep, after breaking into her home. As far as the Tamimis are concerned, the murder of the Jewish teen by a Palestinian just a few years older than her helped "to return to the homeland its awe/reverence."

While Nariman Tamimi usually posts in Arabic on Facebook, Manal Tamimi has represented the Tamimis on social media in English for several years. Her output on Twitter, particularly, reflects intense Jew-hatred and unwavering support for terrorism.

For Manal Tamimi, Yom Kippur is the day when "Vampire zionist" [sic] are "celebrating by drinking Palestinian bloods" – a practice that she hopes will eventually prove deadly. When an Arab-Israeli gunman killed two and wounded seven at a pub in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016, Manal Tamimi was jubilant: "#TelAviv under fire – There are no safe place these zionist can hide in", she wrote in a tweet adorned with victory emojis.

But the Tamimis’ support for terrorism was already addressed – and arguably whitewashed – when the American writer Ben Ehrenreich first profiled the family in a decidedly sympathetic New York Times Magazine cover feature published in March 2013.

The family’s ambition to start a "third intifada" was prominently highlighted, and Ehrenreich tried – apparently rather successfully – to convince his readers that their refusal “to forswear bloodshed” and their "great affection" for their murderous relatives was entirely understandable. Indeed, Ehrenreich referred to "Nabi Saleh’s accomplishments" and then mentioned "one of the first military actions after Oslo, [and] the first woman to participate in a suicide attack."

What Ehrenreich describes so tactfully as "one of the first military actions after Oslo" refers to the 1993 murder and subsequent burning of Haim Mizrahi, in which at least two close relatives of Bassem Tamimi took part. A report in The Independent published shortly after the murder concluded it was "an attack by extremists determined to disrupt the peace process by provoking Jewish anger."

Jordanian Ahlam Tamimi, just released from an Israeli prison, being hugged by a relative upon her arrival at Queen Alia international airport in Amman late Oct. 18, 2011.Credit: Reuters

The 'pioneering' Tamimi family member who was "the first woman to participate in a suicide attack" is Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind and facilitator of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and injured some 130, with one young mother left in a permanent vegetative state.

In the summer of 2012, less than 20 years after the Tamimis had first tried to disrupt the peace process in 1993, Bassem Tamimi’s nephew Nizar Tamimi – who was involved in the murder of Haim Mizrahi – married Ahlam Tamimi in Jordan. Both had been released in the deal to the free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Bassem Tamimi, his wife and his children attended the wedding. A video of the event shows Ahed on the stage with the terrorist couple, happily clapping to the music.

It is thus no surprise that Ahed would now casually list "stabbings" and "martyrdom-seeking operations", i.e. suicide bombings, as actions that further the Palestinian cause. And it is no surprise that her mother, who has always been particularly outspoken in her approval of Ahlam Tamimi – would proudly post this "message to the world" on her Facebook page.

Ahed Tamimi can obviously not be blamed for how she was brought up, but this is no reason for responsible adults to overlook the seething Jew-hatred and the enthusiastic support for terrorism espoused by Ahed’s parents and her extended family.

Even if the Tamimis were only fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, their fanaticism wouldn’t bode well for any peace agreement. But the Tamimis never wanted a peace agreement. They have always wanted the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman is a German-Israeli researcher and writer with a Ph.D. in contemporary history. Twitter: @WarpedMirrorPMB

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