On January 31, Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian activist, turned 17 years old. She did so in an Israeli jail cell, where she is facing multiple charges, including attacking soldiers after a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral in December 2017. Her detainment is part of an ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine dating back nearly a century, in whichPalestinians object to Israelis occupying land they believe they have a historical right to, and Israelis say they have a legal and religious claim to the occupied land. She is reportedly one of over more than 300 Palestinian youths who are being detained by Israeli forces.
On Ahed’s birthday, young people turned out in droves to support her.
In protest of the detentions, Jewish high school students across the United States took to the streets on January 31, showing solidarity with Ahed and their Palestinian counterparts. This, according to IfNotNow — the organization through which the protests happened — is the first time young Jewish Americans organized for Palestinians of their own age. Ariela, one of the teens leading the action on Wednesday, tells Teen Vogue that the protest proves American Jewish teenagers want peace for everyone — including Palestinians.
“There’s a change happening in our community, and our generation is at the forefront of it, ready to speak up about the injustice of the Israeli Occupation,” Ariela tells Teen Vogue.“Jewish American teens are applying the Jewish values we learned in Hebrew school and around Shabbat dinner tables: We must respect, protect, and honor not only Jews, but Palestinians as well. We want to send a message to Ahed that we are with her, we are inspired by her, and that we are fighting for her freedom.”
Israelis occupy parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, areas that Palestinians claim a historical right to. While Israel doesn’t recognize Palestine as a nation (nor do its allies, including the United States), and asserts its settlements are legal, Palestinians disagree, hence the ongoing, often violent conflict. IfNotNow is a group of young American Jews organizing against Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Protests in support of Ahed broke out in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and the Bay Area on January 31, IfNotNow said in a press release. On top of the demonstrations, the organization gathered nearly 1,000 birthday messages to send to Ahed in detention.
SPONSOR CONTENTSomething about every trend/hottest trend or meeting your personal style
In addition to sending support to Ahed and other young Palestinians through the demonstrations, Ariela said she hopes other young Jewish people will better understand how Palestinian youths are treated.
“I want people to know that the young Jewish people in the streets are the moral voice of our community, that we will stand up for what is right and transform our community in the process,” she says. “We love our community — and we will be the generation to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation.”