The Slap That Should Be “Heard Round the World”

by James M. Wall

A slap is a physical act not meant to wound, maim nor kill.  It is rather, an act born of frustration, of indignation and a stinging rebuke for unwanted action.

Ahed Tamimi is a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who lives in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh where villagers have resisted the Israeli occupation.

The Israeli occupying army functions as the military defenders of Jewish settlers in the nearby Jewish village of Halamish. This is a settler village whose residents steal the Nabi Saleh villagers’ water, and illegally confiscate their farm land to expand the settlement. 

I was introduced to the area in 1977 when Palestinian leaders encouraged a group of foreign journalists with whom I was traveling, to visit an abandoned “Tegart Fort,” one of a series of military installations placed on strategic hills, first by the British during the Mandate period and later used as police outposts by Jordan.

The Tegart fort above the village of Nabi Saleh had been empty until Israeli Prime Minister Begin authorized six outposts of Gush Emunim Orthodox Jewish families to move into occupied Palestinian land. 

Gush Emunim translates from Hebrew to English as “bloc of the faithful”. 

The fort overlooking Nabi Saleh later became the Jewish Orthodox settlement of Halamish. It was the most recent of the six outposts authorized by Prime Minister Begin. So we decided to drive north to visit with the Gush Emunim Jewish settlers living comfortably and secure on a hill above the village of Nabi Saleh. 

What we saw was that the IDF had established a tented military outpost within sight of the fort to “protect” the settlers. The obvious plan was for the families to be joined by other Jewish families in a future Jewish settlement (Halamish). 

I discussed this 1977 visit to the future Halamish in a posting for Wall Writings on April 3, 2010, which I called Nabi Saleh Has Endured Land Confiscation Since 1977″.

In one of the rooms I found an entire family recently arrived from Chicago. The mother had been born in Israel and then moved to Chicago. Now she was back, this time in the West Bank, land she believed was given by God to the Jewish people.

On that day in 1977 when we went to the Tegart Fort, we saw Jewish settlers occupying Palestine land by living in an abandoned Jordanian police post. We also saw the IDF standing guard.

It was on that day that we saw a carefully planned future for Israel’s invading settlers living under Israeli army protection. That isolated outpost appeared harmless enough to us in 1977. 

Now, flash forward to this new year of 2018. The IDF continues with its “protection” of Jewish settlements which are anything but “harmless”. The settlements are an established movement through which Israel plans to totally control Palestine.

What a small group of foreign journalists failed to grasp in 1977, was a dark future which Palestinians suspected and feared. 

Israel maintains tight control over the land that Orthodox Jewish mother told me was God’s gift to her family. When Palestinians resist using a religious document as a set of land deeds, they are targeted by the IDF. 

Nabi Saleh is one of the IDF’s prime targets because its weekly protest marches attract unwanted foreign media and political attention to Israeli crimes against Palestinian citizens.

Nabi Saleh is a long-established Palestinian farming village in existence since before the Ottoman era. It is 20 kilometers northwest of Ramallah, the current national Palestinian capital. 

Ahed Tamimi’s father, Bassem al-Tamimi, and her mother, Nariman Tamimi, are leaders in the Nabi Saleh weekly public acts of resistance. They are under constant surveillance and are frequently arrested. 

In the youtube video below, filmed in 2015, their daughter Ahed, was 14 and already a fierce resister.

It is a short video. It should be viewed and studied as a testimony to the courage of a family refusing to yield to the crime of occupation and a teen-ager who wants to someday become a lawyer who can help her people. Click and view. 

In the final week of 2017, two years after the release of this video, Ahed Tamimi has been arrested by the IDF in a standard Israeli procedure which demonstrates to those who will see and act, just how vicious the IDF can be.

Ahed’s West Bank home in Nabi Saleh was entered by a squad of IDF soldiers who broke into the house at four a.m. on Christmas morning.  They took her out of her bed, handcuffed her, and pushed her into a waiting paddy wagon which took her away to an Israeli prison.

Her “crime”? Two days earlier, two soldiers entered her yard. She and another girl resisted their presence on her private property and pushed them out. In the encounter, Ahed Tamimi slapped one of the soldiers.

The soldiers were not aggressive, knowing they were being filmed by Palestinians. They knew they would be back under the cover of darkness to arrest a 16-year-old girl.

When U.S. Army General George Patton slapped a soldier lying in a hospital bed in the closing days of World War II, he was expressing disdain for what he saw as cowardice. . The army made him offer a public apology directly to the soldier.

Early Monday morning, December 25, Ahed Tamimi was arrested for her slap.

Richard Silverstein, the American Jewish Tikun Olam blogger based in Seattle, describes what followed the arrest:

The girl’s mother followed her to the police station to protect her daughter. Instead, she herself was arrested. That morning, the police dragged Ahed to court where they demanded the judge extend her imprisonment.

Two days later, an Israeli military court extended her incarceration. She is being held without charge, without a lawyer and forbidden contact with her parents.

Silverstein further reports,

Bassem al-Tamimi, Ahed’s father, came to court in order to support his daughter. He then was also arrested. This is the way a regime of bullies and Mafiosi rule. They brook no opposition. If you resist, you will be made an example of so that other Palestinians don’t get any “big ideas” into their heads to join the resistance.

As 2018 begins, Ahed remains in one of the three different jails in which she has been incarcerated. 

Ahed’s slap should be “heard around the world”. It should be viewed as an act of resistance by a 16-year-old.

The world’s media, most especially the U.S. media, is so blind to any thing other than the Israeli narrative. that it refuses to see that Ahed’s slap evokes Ralph Waldo Emerson’s hymn Concord, which begins with words which celebrate an act of defiance by a shot against oppression.

In Ahed’s case, it is not a shot, but a slap. Concord begins:

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Those words are inscribed at the base of The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, which stands at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. (see above).

The Minute Men of our American Revolution began a fight for freedom as a ragtag farmer’s army. Ahed Tamimi is fighting, in her own way, against the brutality and unjust oppressive Israel occupation. 

An UPDATE from Palestine:

Samia Khoury sends a video link (below) of a song and film honoring Ahed Tamimi. A translation of the words into English may be accessed by scrolling down through the comments below:

 Samia writes: “As a very sad year filled with a lot of suffering comes to an end, I
would like to wish you all a new year filled with hope and peace.
Here is a clip of a song in honor of Ahed Tamimi who needs all the
support as Israel is trying to use her as a lesson for all those who
dare challenge the occupation.” Samia

The 2015 video of a 14-year-old Ahed Tamimi, is from You Tube. The Minute Man stature is from Wikipedia. The video of the song honoring Ahed Tamimi at bottom is from You Tube. The translation of the original Arabic is provided in the comments  below by Samia Khoury. and Cedar Duaybis.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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15 Responses to The Slap That Should Be “Heard Round the World”

  1. J. Martin Bailey says:

    As though this “slap” wasn’t heard sufficiently, the affront to the world (including various United Nations agencies) has been continued by Donald Trump and his son-in-law by ignoring decades of efforts to resolve these issues. The theft of land has been made easier for the settlers and their Israeli government supporters by the fact that the ownership documents were held by the Ottoman Empire and thus are stored in Istanbul. Israel ignores the efforts of honest (and increasingly weary) international diplomats to maintain peace with justice in what is already marginal land. Jim Wall is indefatigable in his efforts to keep these affronts to human dignity in plain sight.

  2. Patricia says:

    Excellent. I have been so upset by this injustice as well as America’s stupidity, complacency as we lose our freedoms, too.

  3. Samia Khoury says:

    Thank you Jim for posting that song in honor of Ahd

  4. Helen Marshall says:

    Thank you…if only this slap could be heard loud and clear in the US…but the Israeli grip on our political and media institutions likely will prevent that. When???

  5. Patricia says:

    My goodness, I just realized that Daniel Chester French, Minute Man, is probably a relative from my mothers family side, having arrived in Mass. In the 1600’s. I am going to have to reread our French Family history.

  6. Israel will come to regret this travesty of human rights. We, the people who believe in truth and justice, will see that they do.

  7. Peter Doris says:

    Jim, Thank you for a beautifully written discussion of one teen’s heroic resistance to Israeli Apartheid.

    Thanks also for your personal commitment to the very long game of peaceful resistance to evil in your writing. We will not give in or give up until a just peace arrives. Bravo, my brother.

    Peter Peter Doris

  8. Thank you for highlighting the plight of Palestinians. Ahed Tamimi is the beautiful face of Palestinian defiance and is, God willing, the straw that will break Israel’s back.

  9. Rev. Stephen Goldstein says:

    Jim, we once visited Ma’ale Adumim together, seeing the swimming pools, etc. It was a Jeff Halper tour. Please keep up your reporting much appreciated.
    Rev Stephen Goldstein

  10. Kyle says:

    Thanks Jim. Informative post. As long as the U.S. continues its unquestioning support for Israel, such injustices will never end.

  11. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Jim, Thank you so much for the spotlight on the new Palestinian teenage resistance hero, Ms. Ahed Tamimi, (the ‘vow of Tamimi’), with the new dawn of 2018.
    Yes! the stinging sound of that slap; the resounding sound of that slap; the slap-crescendo of heroic resistance against occupation is music to the ears of anyone who loves freedom and justice.
    Yes, Israel likes to talk about ‘covenants’. The truth is that it is deeply marinating in the Covenants of occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, tyranny, and injustice.
    Israel’s lust for occupation, land grab-settlements, and ethnic cleansing will surely lead to the Palestinian version of “the Great American Revolution”.

  12. Philip Hudson says:

    This sad news needs to be read by as many people as we can reach. I just referred this article to Jim Dennison. Jim is a wonderful Christian leader in the Dallas, Texas, area. He has a large e-mail and Facebook following. However, his take on the nation of Israel needs adjusting. Philip Hudson

  13. wallwritings says:


    A song dedicated to Ahed Tamimi by Zein of Jordan
    The lyrics are by Bashhar Hawamdeh and Ammar Freij,
    The music is by Mahmoud Basshar and arrangement by Khaled Mustafa
    Sung by Tania
    The following is a translation of the song
    “You are the promise and you are the glory
    Your hair is like the olive in the land
    From cradle to grave
    No honor will be desecrated
    Our country is implanted  in us
    Like the anchor of a ship
    When our face ebbs, you are the tide
    Through your long blonde locks  
    Shines your innocence and purity
    You have taught generation after generation  
    The rebellion of a forgotten nation
    Your blue eyes  are the beacon of a homeland
    that cradles all civilizations. You have united near and far
    And you have ignited the spark in our hearts
    Your  haughty brow  reaches the sky and hones our lasting determination
    And despite your soft and  tender hands
    You have shaken the world with your courage
    You have  returned the slap to the intruder and to the nation its dignity.
    Our country is implanted  in us
    Like the anchor of a ship
    When our face ebbs, you are the tide,”
    During the song, Ahed says the following words:
    Our people must be united to be able to liberate Palestine and the prisoners.   

    James M. Wall

  14. rev.Dr. Katherine Kallis says:

    As heartbreaking as this story is, it also let’s in a beam of light I this dark story. Having visited Palestine in October with MEJDI Pilgrimages and the Getman’s from DC, I am energized afresh by the courage of the Palestinians along with the urgency of the need to DO SOMETHING.
    I was grateful to see the Doctors Without Borders symbol.

  15. Pingback: Wallwritings: Ahed Tamimi Completes High School in Prison | Al-Bushra

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