International has it hands full in the Middle East at the best of times, and
now it seems that they are busier still; Egypt is experiencing unrest and mass
protests which has led to casualties, as well as a surge in sexual harassment
of women, and Syria is still enthralled in its brutal civil war with refugees
pouring into neighbouring countries.
with such urgent and severe crises, Amnesty still finds the time to deal
with... the so-called "bullying and judicial harassment" faced by one
Palestinian "rights activist", Nariman Tamimi. ...to Amnesty it
seems that a Palestinian woman facing trial for entering a closed military zone
during the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh is as much of a human rights violation
and an injustice as the killing of protesters in Turkey and Egypt.
Friday, in Nabi Saleh demonstrations are held by local Palestinians and
activists in a similar fashion to the demonstrations held previously in Bil'in.
Part of the ritual in these demonstrations is to intentionally provoke Israeli
soldiers, and then document their response. For that purpose, dozens of
cameramen and photographers are present at each demonstration. The most
infamous case of such provocation in Nabi Saleh took place late last year, when
a picture of young An'd Tamimi, Nariman's daughter, confronting a soldier was
circulated online and in the global media (see AIJAC's blog post on the incident).
June 28 Nariman was arrested, along with another protester, for this kind of
provocation, when she entered an area which was closed off by the military. She
was released on bail and while she awaits trial she was temporarily forbidden
from participating in the Friday demonstrations. This requirement by the court
that she will stay in the family home between 9am to 5pm on Friday until her
trial date was described as a "partial house arrest"- well, very
partial, considering the fact that it is only meant to keep her temporarily
from events in which she repeatedly breaks the law and confronts soldiers, at
least until her most recent actions are brought to court. It does not seem that
to prevent a repeat offender (Nariman was arrested in the past for
intentionally clashing with soldiers) from participating in the very activity
during which they break the law is such a draconian measure. But in the eyes of Amnesty it is:
International has accused the Israeli authorities of bullying and judicial
harassment of Nariman Tamimi, a Palestinian rights activist who was placed
under partial house arrest today to prevent her taking part in peaceful
protests while she awaits trial next week.
is an unrelenting campaign of harassment, the latest in a litany of human
rights violations against Nariman Tamimi, her family, and her fellow villagers.
These arbitrary restrictions should be lifted immediately and the charges
should be dropped,' said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and
North Africa Program Director.
have been denied the basic human right to peacefully protest over land
illegally seized by Israeli settlers, and the Israeli judiciary has used
spurious legal tools to punish them for exercising their basic human right to
peaceful protest,' said Philip Luther."
Luther's description is misleading- no one denied the villagers' and activists'
right to peacefully protest. The only thing that was denied was the entry of
Nariman to a closed military zone. Once she broke the law and confronted the
soldiers she was arrested. Not for peacefully protesting. Other protesters who
did not try to break into that area were not arrested, and this Friday
demonstrations took place as usual. Does Luther think that the "human
right to peacefully protest" includes a right to break the law and not
face charges and legal consequences?
Tamimi family is prominent in organising the weekly demonstrations in Nabi
Saleh, and in the "resistance" to Israel more broadly. Her husband
Bassam is one of the main organisers of the protests, as are Naji and Bilal
Tamimi. Amnesty International is making them into non-violent resistance
heroes, but this is a political stand by Amnesty. It might be framed in the
language of human rights, but when someone breaks the law, is brought to court
and the only sanction they face until the trial date is to not participate in
the very action in which they broke the law in the first place, the excuse of
human rights violation is pretty flimsy. The people at Amnesty International
must know that, they deal with the daily casualties of protests elsewhere in
the region- when the right to protest is truly being repressed, it does not end
with individual arrests, bail money and a court date, while the demonstrations
themselves continue as usual.
Tamimi family story is not simply about a family from Nabi Saleh that
peacefully responds to what they perceive as violations of their rights. While
Nariman brags about the "non-violent" and "peaceful" nature
of the demonstrations, in interviews she has stated that throwing rocks is
considered "non-violent" in her eyes. The fact that these stones are
often aimed at civilians and have caused death and injuries, does not seem to concern her:
resistance is mostly verbal; we respond back with words, but if a stone was the
response or comeback then that doesn't mean it is a weapon. It is more of a
message than a weapon. [...] throwing rocks at the soldiers is more of a
retaliatory symbolic message."
war might be predominantly a propaganda war- staging conflict between
Palestinians civilians, including young children, with soldiers to defame the
Israeli Defence Forces, and Israel. But it does not stop there. The kind of
actions she is supporting can escalate to violent action. This happened in
Nariman's own family - her husband Bassam's nephew, Nizar Tamimi, served a life
sentence after murdering an Israeli settler in the early 1990s. His cousin
Ahlam Tamimi, is infamous for her involvement in helping to carry out the
Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in 2001, as well as other terror attacks, and
was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences. She holds the dubious title of
the first female member of Hamas' "military wing." Both were released
from prison in the Shalit prisoner swap deal, and after meeting in prison, they were engaged at
the time of their release. Both are very popular in Nabi Saleh and upon their
release celebrations were held in the village. Is glorification of terrorism
also a form of "non violent resistance"?
rights organisations who criticise Israel for temporarily preventing a woman
who is awaiting trial from participating in the same activity during which she
broke the law are undermining the cause of human rights and draining the term
of any substance (see AIJAC's previous blog post about the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights). Any soccer fan that is disruptive
during a match would receive similar treatment and could be removed from the
stadium until his or her case is heard in court. This is especially the case
when considering the regional context. How could anyone take Amnesty's
condemnations about deaths in protests in Turkey, about sexual harassment in
Tahrir Square or about the disintegration of Syria into chaos seriously, if
they use the same language to describe Nariman Tamimi's case?