Photo: EPA
Ahed Tamimi
Photo: EPA
Prof. Yoram Yovell
Ahed Tamimi case is all about cowardice and defeatism
Op-ed: We have no chance of winning a PR battle against a pretty blonde girl; the IDF usually knows how to choose its battles wisely, but in this case our politicians have demonstrated how a nuclear power is incapable of dealing with a slap and a kick from a 16-year-old girl.
What should we do with Ahed Tamimi? If I had to write an essay on “how to make Israel foolishly lose a PR war against the entire world in order to gain a few votes in the next elections,” this is what I would write about.



I would describe what our politicians did with the slap and the kick a 16-year-old blonde girl gave an IDF officer who entered her house’s backyard in the village of Nabi Salih about two months ago.


As an IDF officer in regular and reserve service, I was often in charge of soldiers who had to disperse protests or deal with hostile residents in the villages and cities of Judea and Samaria. After seeing the video if the slap, and as someone who knows what kind of delusional scenarios can be created within minutes under these conditions, I can tell you that the officer and the non-commissioned officer who was with him acted commendably. They did exactly what I would expect IDF fighters to do.


Ahed Tamimi in court  (Photo: Reuters)
Ahed Tamimi in court (Photo: Reuters)


Because an IDF officer doesn’t just have to be an officer, dear politicians; he has to be a gentleman too. And a gentleman must be able to take a slap from a girl, and even a kick, without responding. That’s the way it is. What a shame that our fiery defense minister, who was discharged from the IDF with the rank of corporal after fearlessly serving in the army as a quartermaster (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), doesn’t know what a captain and a staff sergeant in the IDF know.


So for the information of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is very fond of the death sentence, and for the information of the prosecutors and judges at the Ofer Military Court, here’s what I think we should do with Ahed Tamimi, who is being held by us in custody until the completion of the legal proceedings:


She should be taken without any delay to the home of the parents of the officer she slapped and should be seated on the sofa in the living room. His mother should offer her coffee and cake and make sure she finishes everything on her plate. Then, they should show her the family albums, with pictures of the young officer as a child and as a youth her age. And then she should be sent home. That’s it.


Hatred cannot be defeated with hatred

I know, this is a minority opinion. Here are seven reasons why I think this is the right thing to do, instead of all the nonsense we have already done, and are set to do, with Ahed Tamimi.


1. A country which panics and rages and is irritated by a slap and a kick is a country with a glass jaw. Israel is a nuclear power (according to foreign reports), and it’s incapable of dealing with a slap and a kick? If we get so stressed out by such a viral video, what will we do when we have missiles flying over our heads, possibly very soon, some even hitting their targets occasionally?


2. More than 1.7 million people from all around the world, mostly women, have signed a petition in the Avaaz website calling on Israel to free Ahed Tamimi immediately. Each of these signatures is another achievement for those who are not only undermining the occupation, but also Israel’s right to exist as an independent state in the Middle East. And we are foolishly playing into their hands.


Tamimi and her mother preparing for a protest in 2012  (Photo: AFP)
Tamimi and her mother preparing for a protest in 2012 (Photo: AFP)


3. We have no chance—and I say this as a psychoanalyst who knows a thing or two about communications—of winning a PR battle against a pretty blonde girl. That’s just the way it is. There are battles which must not be fought, and this is one of them. A clever English saying advises us to “choose your battles wisely.” You have to know where and when to fight, and where and when not to. It’s what the IDF has done, and is still doing, on the northern front. It’s a shame that when it comes to the Ahed Tamimi issue, our defense minister and prime minister are only looking at the coming elections rather than at the national PR effort.


4. And what exactly did you want Tamimi to do? To throw rice at our soldiers? To offer them cardamom coffee, together with her mother? After all, they entered their home and settled in their yard, uninvited. That’s why I think there is only one proper Zionist response to what she did—to bring her to the officer and gentleman’s house, have her sit down in the living room and show her once and for all what it means to have a Jewish mother, and what happens to someone who gets into trouble with her. Because for her sake, she better eat up that cake till the very last crumb.


5. And seriously, our panic around the Tamimi affair is blurring the difference between a murder and a protest, and that’s not only foolish but also dangerous. Since Tamimi’s slap, Rabbi Raziel Shevah has been shot to death and Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal has been stabbed to death in Judea and Samaria. But judging from the traffic on the internet and on social media, Tamimi’s act was much worse. And not just on the web. The graffiti “Death penalty for Ahed Tamimi,” which was sprayed in her village in the middle of the night, point not only to cruelty but also to real stupidity in the extreme right-wing camp. It’s no longer just a moral problem, but a cognitive problem as well. Dear settler brothers, it’s time for some self-examination. Some of your children have gone off the rails.


6. I can’t say it any more gently: We have made fools of ourselves in the Tamimi affair. It’s pathetic. An entire country without a sense of humor. Because Ahed Tamimi is neither Anne Frank nor Joan of Arc. Anne Frank was murdered, Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake, and Ahed Tamimi knew very well she was in no danger whatsoever. She wouldn’t dare do what she did to Hamas or ISIS fighters. But the fact that we raided her village in the middle of the night to arrest this dangerous terrorist in a widely-covered operation doesn’t point to national pride but rather to cowardice and defeatism. I’m pretty sure (without knowing if it’s true) that the idea to arrest her didn’t come from the chief of staff or from the Shin Bet director, but from the petrified and hysterical politicians running this state.


7. The bottom line is that hatred cannot be defeated with hatred. Hatred can only be defeated with love. When there is no choice, and there is an imminent life-threatening situation, you shoot quickly and accurately, you shoot to kill. When there is no choice, you use force. In all other cases, you must think very carefully, and only then act. And you mustn’t act from your gut, but from your mind and from your heart. How could we have forgotten that?


פרסום ראשון: 02.25.18, 23:34
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