GUEST BLOG: Sister Barbara Cameron – One Palestinian Family’s Story

By   /   December 31, 2017  /   10 Comments

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In 2011 as a NZ  Catholic nun, a Mission Sister, I had volunteered with the  International   Women’s  Peace Service group in Palestine on the West Bank, a group that supports the Palestinians in any  non violent resistance to the occupation of their land by  Israel, and reports on human rights abuses.

When I read last week of the detention of a young Palestinian teenage girl, 16yrold  Ahed Tamimi,  dragged from her bed in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, for me it wasn’t just another Palestinian   teenage protester.  I was devastated.  This is the beautiful young woman I’d met as a happy, innocent 10yrold, in whose house I’d slept, with whose family I’d sat at table, to whose grandmother I had listened as she shared the pain of the terrible things her  own children had suffered at the hands of the Israeli military, her daughter shot in a military court room, her son detained innumerable times. I was gutted thinking of this family having to deal with yet another trauma, fearing what might happen to their 16yrold daughter in military detention. Not only that but her 15yrold brother, Mohammed, is now lying in an induced coma as the result of the injury caused by being shot in the face by a rubber bullet. For me it was heartbreaking news.

In 2011 as a NZ  Catholic nun, a Mission Sister, I had volunteered with the  International   Women’s  Peace Service group in Palestine on the West Bank, a group that supports the Palestinians in any  non violent resistance to the occupation of their land by  Israel, and reports on human rights abuses. It was at that time I had the  privilege of meeting  Ahed’s father, Basem Tamimi, a charismatic  village leader ( in my book, another Gandhi or Mandela),  whose gentleness and commitment to non violent, peaceful protest against the Israeli occupation of their land  was in stark  contrast with the picture of protesters I’d formed, from the media, of Palestinian resistance to occupation. In that man’s home,  with that little girl and their family, we enjoyed the warm, generous hospitality,  typical  of Palestine.   Within days of that experience Basem was picked up by the Israeli  military police  accused of inciting protesters to throw stones at the soldiers . What follows are excerpts from the speech Basem gave in the military court in June 2011.

“In my lifetime I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though  I  was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators…

International law guarantees the right of the occupied people to resist occupation. In practising my right I have called for and organized peaceful, popular demonstrations against the occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half the land of my village….

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe like us that had it not been for the occupation, we could all live in peace on this land….

I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror…

Despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion, or ethnicity, embodying thus the message of the messenger of peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy”. With love and justice we make peace and build the future.”

Now 6 years later  in the wake of the demonstrations on the West Bank following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,  this family is again suffering from the cruelty and injustice of the occupation. Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested by the Israeli army Dec 22nd is now scheduled for trial on Monday. This is the second delay in her trial date. Her father, Basem, has been summoned for interrogation. Her mother, Nariman, is still being held in detention. This update from Basem:

“They dragged Ahed out of bed, handcuffed her and put her in the back of their military jeep. She is 16 years old.

The next morning, my wife went to the police station to be with our daughter as she was interrogated. But Israel took her into custody as well. The following day, they arrested my 21-year-old niece Nour. 

This is too much! Israel must immediately release the Tamimi women! They must stop their persecution of my family.

All of this started last Friday when soldiers in my village shot 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi directly in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Following surgery, Mohammad had to be placed in a medically induced coma. Then the soldiers came to our home. Ahed and Nour slapped the soldiers in the face and pushed them back, yelling that they could not enter our home.

The Israeli military is threatened by our regular protests, by our refusal to live with occupation.”

What some people will focus on reading this or hearing the news will be the slapping of an Israeli soldier by a 16yrold  Palestinian  girl.   What we don’t   usually hear about is the provocation that leads to the reaction. In this case we do … the shooting of a rubber bullet in the face of the girl’s 15yrold brother which has left her brother in an induced coma, and the  ongoing history of harassment that family has experienced .

In the light of all this suffering by the Palestinians  over 50 years  and in an effort to end the violence and the occupation,  Palestine leadership some years ago asked the international community to support them in one of the few nonviolent ways pressure can be brought to bear on the occupying force, that is through the  BDS movement,  the boycott of Israel, as was done in the past to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa.

That is why  Lorde’s decision to cancel her tour to Israel is significant and she deserves to be commended for her courage in taking such a  principled stand.  Where you have victims and oppressors we all know on whose side we should stand.  New Zealand and New Zealanders have done  that  in the past. Let’s continue to do this  for all the children and young people of our world, who suffer at the hands of  military power, for Ahed and Mohammad, for their grandmother, for their mother and father, for the whole Tamimi family .


Sister Barbara Cameron – Mission Sister Morrinsville

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  1. Otto Mann says:

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!

    I hope someone brings this to Brian Edwards’ attention!!! He seems so sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed!

    Lorde – you are a true heroine!!

  2. Draco T Bastard says:

    Why is the West praising Malala, but ignoring Ahed?

    Malala was invited to meet then President Barack Obama, as well as the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and addressed the UN General Assembly. She received numerous accolades from being named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine and Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine to being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, and again in 2014 when she won.

    State representatives such as Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard as well as prominent journalists such as Nicholas Kristof spoke up in support of her. There is even a Malala Day!

    But we see no #IamAhed or #StandUpForAhed campaigns making headlines. None of the usual feminist and rights groups or political figures has issued statements supporting her or reprimanding the Israeli state. No one has declared an Ahed Day. In fact, the US in the past has even denied her a visa for a speaking tour.

    It seems that we in the West have difficulty standing up to injustice when it’s done by one of our ‘friends’.

    With friends like these, who needs enemies?

    • Steve King says:

      “Why is the West praising Malala, but ignoring Ahed?”

      Because the international Israeli government lobby is much more powerful and better connected than the international taliban lobby.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        So, what you’re saying is that the reason why Ahed is being ignored is because of the power of the Israeli Lobby?

        How is it that that lobby would have that much power?

        Why do we allow it to have that much power?

        • Perhaps because the Israel Lobby (check out FB, Twitter, and various right-wing blogs) is so closely allied to the political Right and the religious Right? Plus on top is the narrative ‘sold’ to the public that they’re the “only democracy in the Middle east” (not strictly true), and you have an unhealthy ‘cocktail’ of vested interests, political allegiances, and public naivete.

          Plus the willingness of pro-Israel individuals here in NZ very quick to jump on social media and blog-form to put the Israeli point of view, and label anti-Zionists as “anti-semitic” and “bigots” – and that completes the picture.

          Here’s an example of the Israel lobby at work. This could not have been cheap:

          A full-page advertisement in a major US newspaper has called Lorde a “bigot” for cancelling a planned concert in Israel.

          The ad was paid for by the World Values Network and published in the December 31 issue of The Washington Post.

          “Lorde joined a global anti-Semitic boycott of Israel but will perform in Russia, despite Putin’s support for Assad’s genocide in Syria,” the advert reads.


          This is how nasty it gets when someone dares say no to Tel Aviv.

          This will not win Israel any friends.

          • Steve King says:

            yes, that full page advert is interesting. The thought occurred to me that maybe they are overplaying their hand. But I think it really illustrates their confidence in gaining a sympathetic reception, from the US populace, to their message of condemnation. It might not win Israel any friends internationally, but sadly that might not be the case within the US.

            • Fair point, Steve. If intended for sole US “consumption”, it may be received differently than if it were published in the Herald or Dompost. I wonder, though, how American performers view the advertisement? If – as you say – they’re “over-playing their hand”, it might give pause-for-thought for those entertainers who might contempt performing in Israel. Who would need the grief it entails?

  3. Afewknowthetruth says:

    It pays to remember that the Rothschild family were Jews, and by the end of nineteenth century the Rothschild family had established a global empire rivalling that of any nation. For the most parts the bankers decided who would be provoked or sponsored into wars, and who would win.

    And now most of the western world banks are Rothschild banks.

    Forget about Left Bank and Right Bank. Forget about ‘human rights’: there is only one bank that matters as far as the western world is concerned; and the only rights that now exist are the rights of corporations to write the laws that the bought-and-paid-for (or otherwise controlled) politicians implement.

    This must all end very badly -in fact absolutely catastrophically- for the next generation.