A letter to Ahed Tamimi

Dear Ahed

Firstly, let me tell you how sad I am that you are in prison. Prison is certainly not the place for children.  If only you could be shopping with your friends, swimming in the pool or going to a movie.

But, more importantly, I am both heartbroken and angry, because it is not your fault that you are as you are.  Sixteen years ago you were born as innocent as any child anywhere in the world.   Sixteen years ago, you knew no hatred.   Sixteen years ago, you saw no difference between people of different cultures, religious groups or colour.   You were totally untainted.   

Tragically though, 16 years ago, you were born into a family and a culture that satiates children with a diet of hatred.   You were never allowed to see your neighbours, Jews and Israelis, as human beings but rather as vermin who should be destroyed.  From birth you were taught that Jews are but pigs and monkeys. As a little girl you were entertained by Farfu, a Mickey Mouse type character who danced with an AK47 while calling for the death of Jews.   As an older child, you watched educational TV programmes with the map of Palestine covering the whole land of Israel.  You learnt that cities like Ashdod and Haifa were not in Israel but in ‘Occupied Palestine’.  At the mosque, you listened to your Imam praise those who had murdered Jews and call for the murder of others.   You watched in awe as statues, of murderers of Jews, were erected and as stadiums and parks were named for those who had slaughtered Jewish children in their beds.   It was your aunt Ahlam Tamimi who masterminded the Sbarro Pizza bombing that killed 15 people including 7 children.

So, you had no choice.  The hatred of Jews and Israel was ingrained in you before you had time to think for yourself.  Before you had time to understand.

But there are some things, Ahed, that I would like to share with you.  Things that I am sure you know nothing of.    There is another side, Ahed.    Another story.   Do you know that Jews have lived in what today we call Israel for over 3000 years?  That they only left when forced into exile by the Babylonians and then the Romans.  That in 1947 Palestine was divided by the United Nations into a land for the Jews and a land for the Arabs?  The Jews accepted this division and the Arabs refused it.   Imagine how you would be living today, had your forefathers not refused this state.  After 1948 Jordan occupied the West Bank (where you live today) for 19 years.  During this time no Jew could visit the Western Wall, the holiest site for Jews.  During this time too, not a single university was built on the West Bank and the Palestinian Arabs living there lived torridly.  In 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, life expectancy was 48 years.   By 2015, it had reached 76 years.  And by 2016 you and your friends had 14 universities, an open university for distance learning, 18 university colleges and 20 community colleges to choose from.   In 1967 Israel tried to give up land captured in exchange for peace but she was met with 3 noes from the Arab leadership: No to peace, no to negotiation and no to recognition of Israel.   How different your life would have been had the Arab leaders agreed to peace.   And then there were the Oslo peace accords, when we all were sure that peace would come about.   Unfortunately though, that triggered such unrelenting terrorism from the West Bank and Gaza that Israel was forced to implement check points and major security in order to protect her citizens.  In 2000, Ehud Barak, the prime minister of Israel offered Yasser Arafat 95% of the West Bank, with land swops, the whole of Gaza and a divided Jerusalem as capital of the new Palestinian state.  But Arafat refused and instead launched an intifada against Israel.   That is when Israel, in desperation, built the security fence to try and prevent terrorists from coming into Israel and murdering innocent, Israeli citizens.  In 2005 Ariel Sharon removed all the Jews from Gaza in the hope that the Arabs living there would begin building their own state.  His plan was to follow with the West Bank.  But instead the Gazan citizens responded by sending rockets into Israel, thousands and thousands of rockets aimed at men, women and children.  Their purpose was to murder Jews.  Then in 2008 Ehud Olmert again offered Mahmoud Abbas a Palestinian state comprising most of the West Bank, with land swops and he also agreed to divide Jerusalem.   Once again this offer was refused.

And so you see Ahed, why I am so sad.  I am sad that you have had a childhood that epitomizes child abuse.  A childhood that has caused you to act in a manner that has necessitated your arrest.   But I am equally sad that your leadership, because of their intense, irrational hatred of Jews, has not given you what I am sure you and children like you should have.  A state and a future.