By Ismail Suder
Ahed Tamimi – the poster child of the Palestinian resistance – who is touring South Africa with her extended family to promote peace in her afflicted land, has urged SA supporters to notch up pressure on the Israeli regime – not by simply being keyboard warriors – but by doing tangible activism that can make a difference in their struggle.
The “Shamsaan Children of Palestine Peace Tour” is a collaborative initiative hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, Awqaf SA and a range of other groups.
Ahed (16) together with her friend Janna Ayyad (11) and members of their family were in attendance at the Durban’s Metro cinema where a powerful documentary on brutal Israeli subjugation called “Radiance of Resistance, was screened. The two girls and family members of her village of Nabi Saleh are featured extensively in the film, where they boldly confront Israeli soldiers in protest of their Occupation. The film touched many in the audience, especially the bravery of the family to risk their lives in the face of live fire from Israeli forces. After the film the family addressed the audience and answered questions.
Ahed said the Occupation of her land is a crime against Muslims, Christian and Jews who genuinely want to live in peace. “Our opposition is not against Jews, but against the Zionist and their Occupation of our lands,” she said.
She questioned why when they had decided to travel to South Africa, they required visas. “I was very surprised,” she said. “But when our enemies wish to travel to South Africa, they don’t need visas. If Nelson Mandela was alive today, he would never have accepted that,” she said.
She was impressed with the support of so many South Africans towards finding a just peace for her homeland. “But we don’t want you to just express your anger with messages on Facebook, we need you to go out onto the street and pressure your Government to do more,” she said to applause.
Janna Ayyad, 11, regarded as the youngest journalist in Palestine, told the audience in eloquent English: “My camera is my weapon of choice,” she said.
She said despite the Occupation and bloodshed, they have learnt to cope with everyday life. “I hold hope that someday Palestine will be free. I don’t want the next generation to live the lives that we’re living right now.”
She said many people in local schools that she visited did not know where Palestine was, and hopes that more education about her beleaguered land was imparted to young people.
“When I visited a local school and asked children whether they knew where Palestine was, one pupil said she believed it might be “near Paris,” she added.
Ahed Tamimi, family and colleagues were hosted by Antique Café during their visit to Durban.