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From Consortium News
When they left prison on Sunday Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman received a hard-earned heros' welcome from Palestinians and others opposed to Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands seized in 1948 and enlarged by the Israeli army in 1967.
Ahed is 16 years old. Last December, an Israeli soldier shot her cousin in the face. The next day Israeli soldiers menacingly showed up at her house the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. What would you do?
Ahed slapped one of the armed-to-the-teeth soldiers. While some Israeli politicians said she should be put away for life and others demanded a sentence of at least 10 years, the Israeli occupiers sentenced her to eight months for the slap seen around the world. Her mother Nariman filmed the incident and was thrown in jail too, this time for incitement. (It was not the activist Nariman's first time in an Israeli prison.)
Most Americans -- except for the relatively few who have spent more than a few days in Israeli-occupied territories -- find it hard to understand why Palestinians like Nariman and Ahed "persist." Most people in the U.S. are blissfully unaware of the history of Palestine and of the continuing injustices inflicted on its people today. The explanation for this lies largely in the way the U.S. mass media reports the story, almost entirely from the Israelis' point of view.
For those malnourished on Establishment media, here's a bit of history, without which it is impossible to understand the anger and the courage-against-all-odds shown by those who continue to use what they have -- even their open palms -- to make clear that they will never acquiesce in Israeli occupation.
How a Homeland Gets Occupied
The Israeli attack starting the Six-Day War in early June 1967 fits snugly into the category of "war of aggression" as defined by the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal. "Pre-emptive" attacks, when there is nothing to pre-empt, are now -- post Iraq war -- labeled more euphemistically as "wars of choice," but that too fits the Nuremberg definition.
To begin to appreciate the injustices inflicted on millions of Palestinians, whose land Israel coveted for itself, one must un-learn the legend that in attacking its neighbors in 1967 Israel was acting in self-defense. None other than then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977-83) undermined that piece of propaganda in a speech to the U.S. National Defense University on August 8, 1982. (Apparently, even accomplished dissimulators get cocky on occasion and let the truth slip out.) Here are Begin's words:
"In June, 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [President Gamal Abdel)] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him. ... The government decided unanimously: we will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation."
And now, a half-century after its successful six-day war of aggression with U.S. backing, Israel has been unlawfully colonizing the occupied territories, oppressing the Palestinians still living there, and thumbing its nose at UN Security Council Resolution 242. It was approved unanimously on Nov. 22, 1967, calling on Israel to withdraw from the lands it seized in June of that year. That was then.
And This is Now ...
In February-March 2017, I was part of a a small Veterans For Peace delegation in Palestine. One of our last visits was to a village named Nabi Saleh, where Ahed's father Bassem Tamimi, his wife Nariman, and Ahed's three siblings live when they are not in prison. Her older brother is in prison now. After two weeks of experiencing what life is like for Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, I had a chance to ask Bassem about the nonviolent, but frontal, resistance to Israeli occupation and colonization.
"Your sons have been beaten and badly wounded and one's still in prison; your wife is in and out of prison: your brother-in-law was killed by a sniper bullet; you yourself have been tortured in prison; your house is on the list for demolition -- why do you persist; why encourage such actions?" I asked.