Ahed Tamimi Completes High School in Prison

by James M. Wall

Ahed Tamimi (right) and her mother Nariman were released from an Israel prison Sunday. They had served dual eight-months sentences. Ahed, a 17-year-old teenager, left her cell and found a wild reception from friends, family and townspeople of her Nabi Saleh community.

Before her day of release ended, Ahed had held a press conference for the world’s media, was welcomed home by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and laid a wreath at the grave of Palestine’s first president, Yasir Arafat.

In her quiet, polished manner, Ahed also gave Israel what it dreaded, a heavy blow to its already-staggered public image of what is now a self-named Jewish state. She has become a symbol of both Israel’s 70-year Occupation, and Palestine’s future, by quietly serving her eight-month sentence for slapping an Israel soldier.

Palestinian media outlet Maan greeted Ahed by quoting leading Palestinian official, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi:

Maan wrote: “Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the release of the 17-year-old Palestinian Ahed al-Tamimi and her mother, Nariman, who were held in Israeli prisons for the last eight months.

Ashrawi said in a statement that “Ahed and Nariman, both prominent Palestinian activists, were wrongfully and unjustly imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces in December. The motive for their vindictive arrest was political- Ahed, who is underage and turned seventeen behind prison bars, slapped an Israeli soldier who showed up with dozens of others to invade her family’s home in Nabi Saleh, and Nariman filmed the incident.

“Ahed and her humanity captured the imagination of many people around the world because of her spirit and refusal not to be intimidated by Israeli soldiers.” Ashrawi said that Ahed’s story, and the stories of her courageous relatives, expose not just the “immorality” but also the “cowardly nature” of Israeli forces.

Mondoweiss describes Ahed’s release from jail as an “incomplete freedom”. She moves from one prison back to another, occupation. The slap that sent her to eight months in an Israel prison, was filmed. It went viral. Her mother “was imprisoned for live-streaming the incident on Facebook”.

The Israeli response was hysterical. Education Minister Naftali Bennett suggested that Ahed spend the rest of her life in prison, and ‘centrist’, ‘liberal’ journalist Ben Caspit suggested that “we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”. Lawmaker Oren Hazan (Likud) said that if it were him, he would “put Ahed in hospital” by kicking her in the face, and author of the IDF ‘ethics-code’ Asa Kasher backed her continued imprisonment because she could, God forbid, slap again.

American academic and prolific writer, Juan Cole, delivered the news in his precise and colorful manner.

Cole wrote on his blog that Ahed and her mother, Nariman, served their “petty and mean-spirited sentences of 8 months [given them] by a colonial Israeli military judge presiding over stateless, occupied people who are intensively patrolled by the Israeli jackboot while their land, water, and well-being are gradually stolen from them by the judge’s cousins.”

Tamimi, as a 17-year-old girl, slapped a couple of Israel Occupation personnel attempting to barge into her home. She and others had participated in a demonstration against Israelis squatting nearby on Palestinian land and encroaching on her home town, during which there was some stone throwing at the Israeli troops who came to stop people from protesting. Those troops shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet. That was when Ahed went out and slapped them.

Tamimi’s press conference was covered by Kuwait’s KUNA news service, which said in its report that “Tamimi used the experience of being jailed, as many colonial subjects in imperial detention cells have–including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi–to her advantage.” 

 Specifically, KUNA reported, “Tamimi finished high school in jail! She organized a study group of other young women, and she succeeded in completing the high school examination while imprisoned. She turned her dreary sentence, intended to deprive her of nearly a year of her youth, into an educational opportunity.”

Completing high school in jail did not come without a struggle.

In her press conference Ahed said, “I was afraid I would miss the school year, so I managed with a group of prisoners to study. We challenged the occupation, which tried to ban us from study.”

Tamimi said she plans to go to law school and that she hopes to specialize in human rights law so that she can defend Palestinian activists and prisoners on the international stage. 

On her arrival in her home town of Nabi Saleh, Sunday, KUNA reports that she said, “I am a witness that the Resistance will continue until the end of the Occupation.”

TRT World, a Turkish news channel, shared this clip on Ahed Tamimi’s release from prison, her past and her future”

Juan Cole concluded his report with a strong suggestion that international supporters of a free Palestine, as well as believers in justice, should find a way to start a law school fund for Ahed Tamimi. 

Israel lurks in the shadows waiting for its chance to return this brave teenager to prison. Ahed will need all the help she can find to smash those barriers Israel will place in her way.

Juan Cole writes that he is ready to contribute to Ahed’s law school fund. Do I see hands raised to join him?   

The clip above is from TRT World, a Turkish international news channel broadcast 24-hours per day in the English-language. The news channel is based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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 writings.me, 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 jameswall8@gmail.com 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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12 Responses to Ahed Tamimi Completes High School in Prison

  1. Patricia says:

    Lets end ISRAELS illegal cruel occupation of PALESTINE and shameful US complacency, enabling part.

  2. Mike Matarwe says:

    Without the US support, the Zionist Jews in Palestine are worthless and have no courage except picking on young girls like Tamimi

  3. Apparently, IDF soldiers are reported suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to Ahed Tamimi slapping them!!!
    See this: https://twitter.com/jamesperloff/status/1023173416474566656
    So far, no case of public self immolation by suffering IDF war criminals has been reported!

  4. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Many thanks, Jim. This was a SLAP that was heard around the world.
    The resistance against tyrannical Israeli occupation will not end until the occupation collapses. And this can be accomplished by the unity of freedom loving people around the world who cannot tolerate a return to the dark ages where invaders define themselves in extremist religious, or racial bigotry to justify their occupation of another people.
    Israel should learn from its own history with the so-called Aryan Race ideology. Instead, Israel emulates its past victimizers.

  5. J. Martin Bailey says:

    One thing sometimes overlooked in this reportage is the fact that Ahed Tamimi represents the articulate, daring, and courageous Palestinian youth. The battle is now in the hands of a new generation of Palestinians. Their elders have failed, in part because they have conducted their verbal battle from safe havens. Power to the young! Lead us, Ahed!

  6. Rev. Bob Hannum says:

    Hi, Jim: It was summer of 1981. We’d gotten a grant from our Methodist Conference to visit the Holy Land.. We knew little about it. While taking pictures around the Damascus Gate one afternoon, I noticed Israeli soldiers pushing a young Palestinian boy up against the wall outside the gate. Then, behind me, an IDF van screeched to a halt, and Israeli soldiers threw another young Palestinian into the van and took off. The old Palestinian gentlemen, sitting on the wall above the gate, some smoking, looked straight ahead and said nothing. I thought, “Something is definitely wrong here!”
    Go, see, observe, talk to people, see the growing settlements. And, as one Palestinian friend said to us: “Now, you’re stuck with the truth.”

  7. oldkahuna says:

    Given that the attack on the Liberty was followed by a refusal to hold Israel accountable, it is not too much to conclude that the threats made against Ahed’s life are credible!
    Meanwhile, the Al Awda, lead ship in the Gaza flotilla, has been violently attacked and Washington and the mass media are silent!

  8. W. Lee Truman says:

    Slapping any one with an automatic weapon is tempting fate.

  9. W. Lee Truman says:

    Any violence begets violence

  10. hahammami1 says:

    In the so-called “only democracy in the Middle East”, now exposed by its new law called “The Nation State Law” as an Apartheid Militarized Colonial state, a 17 year old school girl who slaps a heavily armed Israeli soldier for forcing his way into her home after another Israeli soldier shot and broke the skull of her 14 year old cousin a few days before, gets an eight month jail sentence. Her mother gets the same sentence for filming and airing the incident on social media. Such injustice will not last. Like Nelson Mandela used his time in jail to his benefit, Ahed Tamimi used her jail time to complete her High School studies and pass. History has shown that no colonial power or empire has lasted against the will of the people it has oppressed. The day of Justice will come and the Palestinian free spirit will be liberated from the Israeli Apartheid rule

  11. Robert Assaly says:

    Ahed and the youth in Gaza remind me of the young people of the first intifada who inspired if not shamed their elders into creative non-violent resistance. Like her slap, the stone-throwing ‘violence’ was symbolic and exposed the same cowardly IDF brutality.

    Then in the quest for legitimacy in Tel Aviv and its client state in Washington, the elders sold the non-violent resistance down the road. Let us hope history does not repeat itself. The lesson for us to get out of the way of the Palestinian youth.

  12. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    To W. Lee Truman.
    And this is precisely why tyrannical occupation got a response:
    A humble response.
    A disproportionately soft response – a slap to a face of occupation.
    Let’s remember Jesus’ agitated response to the money changers

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