Why Ahed Tamimi shouldn't be hailed as a heroine when she's just a silly trouble-maker

Why Ahed Tamimi shouldn't be hailed as a heroine when she's just a silly trouble-maker

16-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Palestine’. But her act of slapping two Israeli soldiers might not be worthy of the title


Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi (R) enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Photo: Reuters

Something has been bothering me for some time, and it has come to the fore again with the story of Ahed Tamimi. She’s a 16-year-old Palestinian who assaulted two Israeli soldiers.

A video of the incident went viral. She is being hailed as a hero by Palestinians and their supporters. Her bravery is being trumpeted around the world. She was due to go on trial yesterday, but the case has been postponed.

In my opinion, she did a really stupid thing and is being used as a pawn by her politically-motivated family.

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It’s similar to how Malala Yousafzai gained fame. Malala was shot on the way to school by militants intent on silencing her. Her parents ran a chain of schools in the region. When she was 11, she started to write a blog about life under the Taliban. She gave interviews to the press and might as well have painted crosshairs on her forehead. It was not long before she began to get death threats. And then on October 11, 2012, terrorists attacked the school bus she was on. They wounded her severely.

Also wounded were two other girls whose names are all but forgotten. For the record, they are Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan. Brave as she was, Malala’s actions had put everyone on that bus in danger. If you ask her whether she thinks what she did was worth it, I believe she would say yes. I wonder what Kainat and Shazia feel.

Other young people have risen to face powerful regimes, to make statements and change. Our very own Joshua Wong Chi-fai is one of them. But even he was not slapping two armed soldiers.

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Now, let’s not get into whether Palestine or Israel is right or wrong. I want to know what Ahed was thinking, and whether her parents had any part in what she did. There is no doubt that political capital was gained from her “heroic” act. But who made that gamble with her life?

Anyone with any sort of military background must be wondering why the soldiers didn’t respond. They could have shot her dead. Their inaction put the lives of their comrades at risk. How can they know if an angry person approaching them is just going to give them a few slaps for a video op, and not draw a knife and cut their throats?

The military are not the same as police officers. The police are used to dealing with civilians, and have strict rules to follow when faced with miscreants. But the military is not meant to deal with regular people. It doesn’t differentiate between enemies. Having the army prowling a town is not ever a good scenario, which is why it is used in only the most dangerous of situations.

This is why attacking soldiers was an utterly reckless move by Ahed. It should never be applauded, lest other people think they can do the same thing, and the soldiers they choose to attack are more hardcore.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Selfish ‘heroism’ risks more lives


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