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The Cross of Bethlehem II

1. One Justice

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.Psalm 34:14



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"Tamimi" is one of those names that can be either Hebrew or Arabic. It can be translated from Hebrew roughly as "innocent," adding an odd symbolism to the topic of this article. Bassem al-Tamimi is a school teacher living in the Palestinian village of Nabi Salih, in the West Bank, next to the settlement+ of Halamish. Not only is his name ambiguous, he could pass as a local in either Palestinian and Jewish towns. Emphasizing the confusion created by his name, he has published in the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz. Finally, in his latest interview—given today, Feb 16, 2013, to Haaretz—he spoke in favor of the "One State" solution, the formal goal of Naftali Bennett's extremist party The Jewish Home. At first sight, he is more Jewish than the settlers living next to his house. Then, one remembers that he has been detained over ten times in what is known as "administrative detention," that the Shin Beth almost killed him in a "shaking" during an interrogation, that he has been defined as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty, that there is an order of demolition against his home, and one can't but wonder. His arguments are worth reading; yet, are they for real?

Bassem al-Tamimi

Bassem al-Tamimi
Failed States

Tamimi Family

Tamimi Family
Bassem, spouse Nariman and Ahad
Darkness at Dawn

Unbearable Pain

It would be impossible to describe in a short article what this man has suffered; instead let me just describe the short period between October 24, 2012 and today. That day, he joined 80 other Palestinian and international activists in a protest at the gate of the Rami Levy Supermarket, north of Jerusalem, in the West Bank. They were calling for a boycott on Israeli products. He was standing quietly with his wife, Nariman, next to a police captain named Malka. He was filmed there; during the subsequent trial, the police officer confirmed that Bassem was standing quietly. For no visible reason, the police officer suddenly tried to arrest his wife; despite the fact that a male policeman is not supposed to arrest a woman. Bassem defended his wife, blocking the aggressor's access to her. He was arrested and tried by Military Judge Major Meir Vigiser for blocking a police officer. The sentence included four months in prison and a fine of NIS5,000. Even the army officer acknowledged in his sentence that Bassem's action was defensive. On November 17, when he was in prison, his brother-in-law, Rushdi Tamimi (surname describes the "hamula," the extended family; formally, the article is added to it, "al-Tamimi"), was killed by the IDF. Soldiers shot 80 live bullets at him. The IDF report on the event, published on January 16, concluded that the soldiers had no reason to fire at all. Bassem was not allowed to attend the burial service, during which the IDF fired tear gas at his family. Make no mistake, I am quoting official versions released by Israeli authorities; they have no shame.


These last events brought him prominence. Turkey's Prime Minister Erdoğan invited his daughter Ahad to visit Turkey while Bassem was in jail. The visit brought the case to the headlines. However, he wasn't anonymous even before that. In the past, the European Union High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton expressed the EU's concern over one of his convictions and Human Rights Watch stated that his conviction "violates his right to freedom of assembly, while [the court's] conviction of him on a second charge of urging children to throw stones on the basis of a child’s coercively-obtained statement raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial." This is cleaned-up language for "invented evidence."

Nabi Saleh Halamish - Neve Tzuf

Nabi Salih — Halamish

Related to this: Israel Gasses to Death
Did you know? Little Israel Banned


Tamimi is Truly Innocent

In today's interview, he expanded on the recent events he experienced, and put them in an ideological framework; oddly, he supports Jewish settlers, due to his short-term analysis of the situation. His position is closely related to his house. He owns a 200 square meters structure built with a permit given by the Jordanian authorities in 1964. The house is within what is known as "Area C," the area of the West Bank still under the direct control of the IDF through its Civil Administration. The IDF issued a demolition order against 300 square meters; "maybe Halamish [the nearby settlement] will lend me the missing 100 square meters," was Bassem's dry comment. Twelve other buildings in the village have similar orders against them. That brought him straight to his surprising view of the solution. He described what he defined as "the silent transfer, the soft genocide." He thinks that his four children would be forced by Israel to move from Area C to Areas A and B, which are under control of the Palestinian Authority, now the State of Palestine. The most immediate threat is the annexation by Israel of Area C, he says, quoting the prominence of The Jewish Home after the elections. "Israel killed the Two States solution," he says, claiming thus that the State of Palestine has become non-viable. This is a most remarkable view for such a man.

"We must find a new strategy and find partners for it in the Israeli society," he added, explaining why the Israeli Left cannot be a partner. Essentially he claims that they want to change Palestinians so that they would accept the Left's views. No segment of the Israeli Jewish society is yet ready to accept Palestinians as they are. His last words were chilling, "In the Two States solution there is no Justice. The places holy to the Jews are in the West Bank. My children like to go to the beach which is within Israel. I love visiting Acre and Jaffa which are also in Israel. Most of the Israeli water comes from the West Bank. A substantial part of Israel's income originate in tourism, Palestinians have also rights to this. I don't like these rights to be taken from anybody. I want a solution for all. In the world, it didn't always work, but I want the cancellation of borders and economic unification." "One Justice from the Sea to the Jordan River," summarized Haaretz' interview.

Tamimi justified his name ("innocent"). He acknowledged that no segment of the Israeli society is ready to accept him as Palestinian. He recognizes that Israel is annexing the West Bank (which is being bisected) and that the State of Palestine is quickly becoming non-viable. He is correct in this; thus, how can he contemplate a sudden change of heart in the aggressor's behavior? Why? What would cause the change? Would the wolf turn into a sheep? My heart is with him and his suffering; however, why does he think in the current condition that Israel will accept anything but everything? Bassem's children won't be pushed into Areas A and B, but into Jordan. In 1929, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Likud's main ideologist, wrote "Two Banks has the Jordan – This is ours and, that is as well."


+Unlawfulness in the West Bank has various layers. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this. The international community considers Israeli settlements a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory. Thus, they are illegal under international law. Israel disputes that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the Palestinian territories as they had not been legally held by a sovereign prior to Israel taking control of them. This view has been rejected by the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The vast majority of West Bank settlements are in between these definitions; they are considered illegal by the entire world, but legal by the Israeli government. However, outposts are considered unlawful even by the Israeli government.

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