The purpose of publications like Vogue Arabia is to highlight fashion trends, remarkable stories and the beauty of different people. In my opinion, there is nothing beautiful about the assault of Israeli soldiers, for which Palestinian media icon Ahed Tamimi gained notoriety last year. Yet, Tamimi was featured recently in a positive light by Vogue Arabia, in an article entitled “Occupied Childhood: Ahed Tamimi Pens a Heartfelt Letter About Life in and After Prison.”
In the article, which ran in the October 2018 issue of the magazine and is available to read on the web, Tamimi wrote, “We still aspire that one day we will live in a free Palestine. Two states will never come to pass.” In her statement, which was condoned by Vogue through the editorial decision to publish her words, Tamimi entirely negated the existence of Israel by denying the possibility of a two-state solution.
Dangerous rhetoric like this echoed in Tamimi’s words repeatedly throughout the article. “If there was no occupation and Palestine was a normal country, I would move to Acre and live by the sea and go swimming.” To live in an Acre governed by Palestine would violate the 1948 lines, in which Israel established. It seems as if the deeper meaning behind Tamimi’s words is her desire to erase Israel off the map. Often, anti-Semitic statements like these, which idealize a “Palestine” without Israel, and without Jews, are published without a second glance.
Tamimi does not come from a family with a clean track record. According to the Wall Street Journal, her own cousin, convicted terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, assisted with the deadly Sbarro Massacre in 2001. Tamimi’s father has been convicted for encouraging others to throw stones and has been in trouble with the law over ten times. Despite being hailed by media outlets as an icon and described by Vogue Arabia as a “symbol of resistance,” Ahed Tamimi and her family are truly misguided in their efforts and should not be glorified because of the methods that they use.
Palestinians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, like all people, but such respect cannot extend to violation of the rule of law. Tamimi was arrested for provoking Israeli soldiers outside of her home after she slapped and shoved them, to the encouragement of those nearby. In her Vogue Arabia letter, she tries to deflect the blame. “Under the occupation, everything is a crime. People should not accuse us; it is the occupation that is wrong,” she wrote. Besides the fact that Israel does not occupy the West Bank illegally, having won it in 1967, the pressing issue is that media outlets like Vogue Arabia so openly accept, gloss over and glamorize one charged with a crime.
In an AJ+ video depicting Tamimi’s release from prison, she says “The majority of my family has gone through the experience of being arrested,” the entire focus of her statement on the Israeli arrest and not on the reasons for it. In an interview with Tamimi, she described herself as one of the “freedom fighters,” which carries violent undertones, and said, “The people can determine our path and how we will resist.”
In her calls to resistance, Tamimi is not spreading a message of peace, but a message of popular uprising, which brings back memories from the bloody intifadas of past decades. Instead of blaming Israel for her woes, perhaps Tamimi and her family ought to consider relaying some of the blame onto their own leaders, for repeatedly struggling with peace deals with Israel, which may bring them the sovereignty and freedom they deserve.
Media outlets like Vogue Arabia, AJ+ and others should never glamorize violence, false messages or the actions of people like Tamimi, who are famous for violent acts. To assign beauty to these acts and those who commit them sends a dangerous message to future generations. Instead, these publications should focus on peace efforts and true narratives, and refrain in the future from referring to Tamimi and those like her as icons.
Jacob Strier is a senior at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. He is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.