(...) The motive
Mainstream media will, as always, attempt to fit news events into well recognized patterns, thus it mentioned an incident which took place during Ahed Tamimi’s trial. It spoke of an Israeli-Jewish supporter who got up and slapped an officer. By meeting Yifat and reading the court papers for her remand, I learned that both the facts and the political perspective behind her actions differ from those first offered by the media.
Yifat Doron in court, by Iris Bar
First, as mentioned, Ahed’s trial took place in camera, so the incident could not happen within the trial. The same Wednesday, March 21, 2018, another trial was held at Ofer, that of Ahed’s mother, Nariman, and her cousin, Nur Tamimi. Due to the decision to hold them in remand until the end of the proceedings, faced with the possibility of being held in prison for a longer term until the trial concludes, both Ahed and Nariman were forced to accept a plea bargain which includes eight months jail time for each. The court was in session to formally sanction these pleas, including that of Nur, who had been previously released and whose punishment did not include further jail time. Although obviously a mere formality, the military judge took her time during the hearings to contemplate whether or not to sanction the agreed upon terms. Finally, just before 7 pm, the judge rose and left the hall after sending Nariman to eight months in prison. That was the moment when Yifat approached the prosecutor, a high ranking officer, and expressed her protest.
Yifat explains that not only did her protest technically take place at the end of Nariman’s trial; it was in fact motivated by the distress caused to her by Nariman’s arrest. She kept close contact with Nariman throughout years of political struggle and feels strong friendship and deep appreciation toward her.
She speaks of a sense of kinship brought about by difficult experiences. She remembers the time when Rushdi Tamimi, Nariman’s brother, was shot by Israeli soldiers just behind the family home. When news came that Rushdi’s physical state was deteriorating, she, along with other people from the village, went to the hospital and were gathering there when the news came out that he “istashhad” – became another martyr of the struggle. She sat by the hospital bed of another family member, Mustafa Tamimi, whom she describes as “kind hearted and a true gentleman”. The soldiers shot a tear gas grenade directly to Mustafa’s head; he was fatally wounded and died the following day.
She accompanied Nariman when her husband, Bassem, was arrested and consequently tried for organizing protests in their village of Nabi Saleh. She recalls how Nariman was shot in the leg by a live bullet during a protest, an injury which shattered her bone and took her down a long road of recovery. She was with her and felt her pain when her children were beaten by soldiers and at times arrested. For years Nariman and Bassem’s home has been a safe haven for her.
Now, with Nariman herself in prison, Yifat felt that she could not just pretend that matters were business as usual. She felt the need to act, to protect her friend, to cry out against what seemed to her to be so utterly unjust, an additional pain inflicted on the least deserving of all women. For her this is not about solidarity in its abstract form, or a mere political statement, it is rather a more personal involvement, the politics of non-separation, of being connected organically. In this sense she was no stranger to the thought of spending some time in prison, as she has seen many of her friends do throughout the years. (...)
In retrospect, and although it was not Yifat’s intention, the court’s decision gave good service to the struggle which she acted to support. As the eyes of the world turn to Ahed Tamimi, a girl imprisoned for slapping a soldier, Yifat’s swift release supplied the utmost proof for the real reason behind Ahed’s arrest. Ahed, like thousands of other Palestinians, is under arrest for the worst crime in Israeli law books: that of being Arab.
Yifat is frustrated by the fact that not only the courts but other well-meaning folk relate to her as that “Jewish Israeli activist”. “If what they want is to label us according to sectors and not based on our humanity, they might as well write that a woman protested on behalf of another woman, her friend”, she says. “That would be much more relevant to the case at hand.”
“The differentiation made by the police and the court system classifying us as Jews and Arabs and treating us accordingly is not only part and parcel of its apartheid regime but also serves to strengthen and maintain the status quo”, she explains. Judaism to her is a religion and as she is not religious, she finds the description irrelevant. She does not define herself as Israeli either, at most, she can be described as a blue ID holder (as opposed to the green ID issued to Palestinians in the West Bank by Israel, which is a symbol of their rights deprived). Her message is the steadfast resistance of all those fighting for freedom and justice in taking apart the divisions forced on us by government.