Ahed Tamimi next to a large Palestinian monument .
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
She’s not quite a cover girl. But Ahed Tamimi, the teenage Palestinian activist and recently released prisoner was featured in the October issue of Vogue Arabia.
Tamimi, who served eight months in prison after she was filmed hitting Israeli soldiers, was released earlier this year. She is celebrated as a hero by many Palestinians and has become known as the face of a resistance movement. But many Israelis say that the teenager, who has called for violent attacks against Jews, should not be lauded or honored.
“Since I was released on July 29, I have become a spokesperson for the Palestinian cause, which is not easy,” Tamimi wrote in Vogue Arabia. “With this role comes a great deal of responsibility and pressure... People often ask where I find my strength and courage to stand up to the occupation, but I am experiencing a situation which forces me to be strong.”
Tamimi has been a known face in the region for years for participating in often violent protests since a young age. A right-wing blog in Israel nicknamed her “Shirley Temper,” and, for many Israelis, the term has stuck. Some of her family members – including a cousin, Ahlam Tamimi – have been involved in deadly terrorist attacks.
“I have been involved in demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli army since I was a child,” she wrote in Vogue. “Many criticize that, but why not criticize the army who places itself in front of children? Under the occupation, everything is a crime. People should not accuse us; it is the occupation that is wrong.”
Tamimi said she wants to eventually study law and fight for the Palestinian cause on a global level. But she does not always love the scrutiny her fame has brought.
“I understand that I have this role now, but I have no privacy anymore,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I am losing myself – my personality. People ask me what life was like in prison, but I wish I didn’t have to talk about it. I just want to forget.”
Reactions to Tamimi’s feature were, unsurprisingly, decidedly mixed.
Jewish Voice for Peace tweeted that her letter was written “with characteristic humility and fierceness. The world is with you, Ahed,” while Huffington Post reporter Rowaida Abdelaziz simply tweeted “Yes Vogue. Yes.”
But Sacha Rojtman Dratwa, head of the Israel Counter-Delegitimization Unit at the World Jewish Congress, saw things a different way.
“Vogue Arabia interview’s [sic] with Ahed Tamimi is the last piece to complete the puzzle to create the new face of the Palestinian propaganda machine,” he tweeted. “A perfect story for the media: Young Palestinian girl with blonde hair who suffers from the ‘occupation’ and was jailed in Israel.”
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