Friday, June 5, 2020 -
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‘Two’ heroines? No.

Ahed Tamimi, the teen Palestinian who beat up IDF soldiers (captured on camera) was released from Israeli prison after eight months of incarceration. She thrives on attention and the shock factor. She has verbalized her support for terrorism against Israelis.

She has a history of beating IDF soldiers, and comes from a family of terrorists.

Her aunt was one of the architects of the Sbarro suicide bombing in 2001. There is an infamous video of her being interviewed, expressing pride that three children were among the victims murdered at Sbarros. When the interviewer corrects her, explaining it was actually seven children killed, a smile she can’t hide spreads across her face. Tamimi’s parents are known terrorist sympathizers and supporters.

This week, upon Tamimi’s release from jail, an Israeli woman on Facebook placed a photo of Tamimi, side by side with Sara Aaronson, the legendary Jewish woman who spied for the British against the Ottomans when they ruled Palestine during WW I, and when they systematically starved the local population, including the Jews. The photo was captioned with something to this effect: “Two heroines: one Jewish, one Palestinian.”

The only violent act Aaronson ever committed was when she killed herself, fearing she would give in under the relentless Ottomon torture and reveal the names of her comrades.

This posting accrued over 1,000 likes, and was shared over 200 times. Certainly, every camp has its fringe extremists. I get that. But when you see this level of support, you start wondering about who exactly the fringe is, and whether what its stands for has actually become conventional. An obscene post, comparing Ahed Tamimi to Sara Aaronson, is deemed just another run of the mill Facebook post to press the like icon.

When I saw the side by side photo, the way it was photoshopped or staged yielded a striking physical resemblance between the two.

But I see only one heroine.

Because there is only one heroine in the photos.

Sara Aaronson was a young adult, a woman in her twenties, by the time she was active in the espionage work of her family from Zichron Yaakov. Famously, the name of their operation was known by the Hebrew word NILI, an acronym of a verse from the Book of Samuel, “Netzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker.”

Sara Aaronson chose to be a part of the spy ring NILI from a place of emotional maturity and thought. Ahed Tamimi, on the other hand, is a teen, a pawn in the hands of her family, who slaps IDF soldiers to score cheap points. In fact, what catalyzed Sara Aaronson to go undercover as a spy against the Turks, and for the benefit of the British, was her eyewitness horror over the inhumane treatment by the Ottoman Turks of the Armenians – the genocide. As Aaronson travelled from Istanbul to return home to Zichron, she found herself personally witnessing Armenians being massacred.

Unlike the Ottoman Turks who were committing genocide against the Armenians, the IDF soldiers on duty near and around Tamimi’s village act as humanely as possible considering the difficult situation. They are clearly harmless enough to the point that despite being armed with a visible gun, Tamimi feels so completely unthreatened and even comfortable enough with them, to walk straight up to them, and smack. It’s all on video. That is how confident Tamimi is that IDF soldiers will not lay a finger on her, despite her provocative behavior.

Tamimi has been up to these antics for years. She’s encouraged by her family to act on these impulses. She has no mature understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is not acting out of principle. She does not understand the recent modern history of the conflict, as Palestinian leaders, again and again, have rejected and refused various Israeli peace offers.

Another contrast between these two is that Sara Aaronson acted in secrecy. She wasn’t looking to be the darling of a media campaign or a poster girl of any kind. Fame was not what she was after. Time and again Sara Aaronson endangered her life, working as part of the pro-British espionage network. She was a woman of deep character. Her work had a purpose; she wanted to thwart a cruel dictatorship that was committing genocide, and aid in the British war effort, which eventually liberated Palestine.

By contrast, Tamimi is all about the PR. Her antics are consistently videoed and executed, almost as a performance, in view of the lens of a camera. It’s all about the publicity and attention for her. In fact, her antics are choreographed with photographers, so as to leverage the PR.

It’s hard to see the vast gaps between extreme political positions among Israelis, especially to have a genuine and beloved heroine of modern Jewish history co-opted and paired with a current terrorist-sympathizing and terrorist-promoting Palestinian teen.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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