A slap in the face for Israel

by Daphna Whitmore

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Ahed Tamimi

On December 15 sixteen year old Ahed Tamimi became the face of Palestinian resistance when videos of her slapping and pushing Israeli soldiers out of her driveway made headlines. Her younger cousin had been shot through the head at close range just a few hours earlier.

In the middle of the night on December 20 Israeli soldiers raided Ahed’s home and detained her. They arrested her mother the following day when she went to the police station to visit Ahed, and also arrested Ahed’s cousin Nour who had pushed the soldiers from the family driveway.

Fifty years of occupation, continual land confiscations, demolition of homes, grabbing of resources, martial law, curfews, checkpoints, abductions, imprisonment without due process, are a horror without end for Palestinians. Lorde’s announcement yesterday that she is cancelling her planned concert in Tel Aviv at the request of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign is very good news and a sign that the campaign is broadening its support.

Ahed and her family have been activists in their West Bank village of Nabi Saleh opposing land confiscations, fighting for water rights and resisting the military occupation. After Ahed and her cousin’s arrest Israel’s Minister of Education Naftali announced that the two Palestinian girls “should spend their lives in prison.”

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16 year old Ahed Tamimi in detention for 6 days without charges

Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, explained the mentality of the Israeli reaction to Ahed’s defiance and bravery.

He writes “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.”

Levy notes, “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”.

Levy, when he spoke in Auckland a few weeks ago, was not at all optimistic that the Israeli occupation was under any real pressure. Ahed has given cause for optimism.  He wonders  if “the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance, violent and non-violent, have failed”.



  1. It is important to grasp that the group that is under most pressure because of Ahed’s heroism is not the Israelis but the Arab leadership including the Palestinian leaders. Israel has always needed Arab complicity to survive. Always. And it is this complicity that is under pressure now.

    The new social media have provided platforms for a world of critique and that is something the thugs of the IDF and the cowards who call themselves the Arab leaders cannot survive.



    • Yes, indeed. The beauty of social media is that it bypasses the corrupt ‘leaders’. In some ways it reminds me of the first intifada which had the advantage of being thoroughly grassroots in origin and was not hampered so much by Arafat and the PLO as they were in exile. I’m hoping a slapping intifada takes off. Ahed is a very genuine figure, with real political consciousness and considerable experience of the struggle.

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