As we noted in a recent post, Ahed Tamimi (dubbed Shirley Temper by Israellycool) is a 16-year-old Palestinian ‘activist’ from the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh who’s been exploited by her parents for propaganda purposes since she was eleven.
The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, the paper’s former Jerusalem correspondent, published a report today on the teen’s arrest which, we should note, did include a bit of skepticism about brand Tamimi. Sherwood also dismisses those who have called Ahed “a symbol of resistance, a child hero, [and] freedom fighter”. But, she also has little patience for Israeli “claims” that the teen “is a puppet of political parents, she has been, schooled in violence”.
In fact, there’s no question that Ahed has been schooled in violence (and antisemitism) by her parents, who have expressed support for terror and encouraged their daughter to provoke and engage in physical altercations with Israeli soldiers. She’s also been schooled in violence by the larger community, which enthusiastically embraces former Nabi Selah resident Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem” in 2001.
Sherwood’s own “complicated” take on the Tamimi clan contextualises the Ahed story as one shaped by “the occupation” and, later in the article, she quotes a former child protection specialist for Unicef in the Palestinian territories who echoes these views.
Sherwood then notes an interview she had with Ahed a couple years ago, and observes that “many of her answers to my questions appeared rehearsed” and that her “recent interaction with the soldiers was partly for the benefit of the rolling camera”. However, the Guardian reporter also expresses sympathy for Ahed’s complaint that she’s grown up constantly exposed to Israeli teargas, whilst failing to acknowledge that this may be related to the fact that her parents have continually encouraged her to participate in violent protests where teargas was likely to be used.
The most troublesome passage, however, appears in the subsequent paragraph, citing a video where Ahed shared her views.
First, here’s the video of Ahed’s “message to the world”, edited and translated by Legal Insurrection.
Now, here’s how Sherwood frames it:
Suggestions that Ahed’s recent interaction with the soldiers was partly for the benefit of the rolling camera, that her mother apparently had no qualms about streaming it live on social media, and (according to the Israel indictment) that the teenager suggested that “whether it is a stabbing attack or suicide bombing or throwing rocks, everyone needs to do something and unite in order for our message to reach those who want to liberate Palestine”, reinforce a sense that the Tamimis are a highly politicised family.
So, the fact that Tamimi supports the use of human bombs to massacre Israeli civilians reinforces, for Sherwood, merely the “politicised” nature of her family, not the pro-violence nature of her family?
Once again, we see the herculean efforts the media will go to avoid reaching the most obvious conclusions about Palestinian attitudes towards terrorism. Indeed, a reporter familiar with the issue would know that Ahed’s support for suicide bombing merely reflects the popularity of this terror tactic within their society. A Pew Global poll from 2013 showed that suicide bombing is more popular among Palestinian Muslims than among Muslims in any other part of the world.
However, within the media echo chamber Sherwood operates, the question of what Palestinians actually believe about peace and violence is far less important than the role assigned to them in a drama where the antagonists and protagonists have been pre-determined.