More than two dozen prominent US Black artists and public figures are speaking out in support of Ahed Tamimi as the teenager’s trial began in an Israeli military court.
On Tuesday, Ahed was brought before the Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank.
Amid the presence of many journalists and diplomats, the military judge ordered the session to be held behind closed doors, claiming this was for Ahed’s own good.
Only Ahed’s family and lawyers were allowed to stay.
Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father, posted a video on his Facebook page after the hearing which shows him calling out “stay strong” to his daughter in the military court.
According to Bassem’s post, the military prosecutor read out the charges against his daughter.
He says her lawyer responded by saying that the court was illegitimate, part of a racist system and had nothing to do with justice.
Bassem said Ahed’s next appearance was set for 11 March, while Ahed’s mother Nariman and cousin Nour will be brought before the military tribunal on 6 March.
Ahed and her mother are being held by Israel for the duration of the military court proceeding.
Scornful of the judge’s decision to expel journalists and diplomats, Bassem called it an effort by a “fascist” state to cover up the “farce and racism of its courts and laws.”
He questioned whether European states, whose diplomats were excluded from the hearing, would take minimum measures – which they have failed to implement so far – to hold Israel accountable.
This video, published by the Haaretz newspaper, shows Ahed being brought into the military court on Tuesday:
Commenting on the judge’s claim that the court session was closed for Ahed’s own good, the teenager’s lawyer Gaby Lasky told media, “I think that the [judge] does not think it is good for the court.”
Haaretz commentator Anshel Pfeffer praised the judge’s order as a “stroke of genius” that would “prevent the court from becoming a media circus and providing Tamimi, her family, lawyers and activists with a convenient opportunity to put the occupation on trial.”
Ahed Tamimi was detained in a night raid in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh almost two months ago, after video circulated showing her and a cousin slapping and shoving two heavily armed Israeli soldiers following an incident in which a soldier had shot in the head and seriously injured their 15-year-old cousin Muhammad Tamimi.
Outraged by a perceived insult to their occupation forces, Israeli leaders have vowed revenge against the Tamimi family and are subjecting Ahed, her mother Nariman and cousin Nour to military trials in kangaroo courts with a near-100 percent conviction rate.
Earlier Tuesday Bassem told media that his daughter and wife have done nothing wrong and are detained by Israel because “of their fight for freedom and justice.”
Public figures speak out
In a statement published Monday, prominent Black public figures call on US lawmakers to endorse a bill that would prohibit US aid to Israel being used for the military detention, torture and abuse of Palestinian children.
Those backing the call include actors Rosario Dawson, Danny Glover and Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams; The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Alice Walker; public intellectuals Angela Davis, Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill; organizers Patrisse Cullors and dream hampton; and rappers Tef Poe, Vic Mensa and Jasiri X.
Signatory Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks was last year among several American football players who pulled out of a propaganda tour of Israel, explaining that he would “not be used” by Israel’s government to whitewash violations of Palestinian rights.
Ahed Tamimi is one of some 350 Palestinian children currently in Israeli military detention.
“From Trayvon Martin to Muhammad Abu Khudair and Kalief Browder to Ahed Tamimi – racism, state violence and mass incarceration have robbed our people of their childhoods and their futures,” the public figures say, likening Israel’s persecution of Ahed and other children to the state violence that has taken the lives and freedom of African American youths.
“While our struggles may be unique, the parallels cannot be ignored,” they add, noting that US police, border patrol and other law enforcement “train with Israeli soldiers, police, and border agents, utilizing similar repressive profiling tactics to target and harass our communities.”
In a striking example, Missouri governor Eric Greitens announced last week that his state’s National Guard would soon take part in joint training with the Israeli army, which the Associated Press reported would involve “homeland defense tactics and procedures.”
Amnesty International is reiterating its call on Israel to immediately free Ahed.
“Nothing that Ahed Tamimi has done can justify the continuing detention of a 16-year-old girl,” Amnesty stated in mid-January. “The Israeli authorities must release her without delay.”
Tamimi marked her 17th birthday in an Israeli prison on 31 January and faces at least another month behind bars.
- Ahed Tamimi
- child detainees
- Betty McCollum
- European Union
- Bassem Tamimi
- Nariman Tamimi
- Gaby Lasky
- Israeli military court system
- Michelle Alexander
- Michael Bennett
- Angela Davis
- Rosario Dawson
- Danny Glover
- Marc Lamont Hill
- dream hampton
- Vic Mensa
- Patrisse Cullors
- Cornel West
- Tef Poe
- Jasiri X
- US-Israel police cooperation
- Muhammad Fadel Tamimi