The “Tamimi” Syndrome

Ahed Tamimi is a self-styled “freedom fighter” for Palestinian rights.  Since she was a child she has been demonstrating against the presence of Israeli soldiers in regions of the West Bank, where they are deployed as a result of the Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestine Authority (PA).  She came to media attention in 2017 when she was caught on camera slapping an Israeli soldier.  The main cause of amazement was not that she was slapping an Israeli soldier, but that he did not strike back!  In the US white policemen shoot black teenagers for far less.  In the PA people are shot for much less.

Indeed Tamimi was arrested and tried in an Israeli military court, since they have jurisdiction in those regions of the West Bank that are not annexed to Israel, pending a negotiated solution to the conflict.  She was sentenced to 8 months in prison and was released in July 2018.  After her release she gave many interviews and the main cause of media attention in the Arab/Muslim world was that she had put on a significant amount of weight while she had been in prison and she was smiling and seemed happy.  And there was not a mark on her and she did not even claim she had been tortured as many former Palestinian prisoners do.

These facts were noted particularly in the Arab world.  If you go into a PA prison, you know you will be tortured and would certainly lose weight and would come out looking haggard and unsmiling, as if you had been through a tough ordeal.  Recently Human Rights Watch has criticized the PA for its routine mistreatment of prisoners.  If she had been arrested in Syria by Assad’s forces, she would have been routinely raped, tortured and she would be considered very lucky if she had she lived to actually get out.  In Iran, there would have been no doubt.  Even for not wearing appropriate dress, such as a hijab, she would have been whipped, and if she had slapped a soldier of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, she would probably have been shot on the spot, or taken to prison without trial and been raped, tortured and murdered.

So this is the “Tamimi Syndrome”, that Arab viewers around the world noted and even laughed at.  They know she was not mistreated in Israeli prison.  That Israeli soldiers are quite happy to be slapped rather than have to deal with serious terrorists, who they shoot, and whose homes are demolished.  The Palestinians complain, but Syrians find it humorous when compared to what they have suffered during the civil war, during which over 500,000 have been killed, and where people disappear routinely into Assad’s prisons without trace.   The other Arabs cannot take the Palestinians seriously when they are fighting Israel, a tolerant, civilized enemy.  Its only in the civilized naive West that Tamimi is a heroine.