Palestinian West Bank protest leader, Bassem Tamimi: ‘Israel killed the two-state solution’

By  and  | Feb.17, 2013 | Haaretz

Bassam Tamimi returned to the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh this week after completing his ninth sentence in an Israeli jail. The Palestinian activist explains why he now believes in one state for all.

nariman bassem and ahed big haaretzBassem and Nariman Tamimi, with daughter Ah’d  Photo by Alex Lavac, Haaretz

Only the remains of a cream cake on the kitchen table and a few fluttering flags on the roof are testimony to the happy atmosphere in this home. However, the joy over Bassam Tamimi’s release from prison this week was considerably dampened by the grief over the death of his brother-in-law, Rushdi Tamimi. Rushdi, 31, died three months ago when Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired 80 live rounds at him − without any justification, according to a subsequent IDF investigation.

The first thing Bassam did after his release was to visit Rushdi’s grave. Bassam’s cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed over a year ago, also by IDF gunfire. And soldiers did not hesitate to fire tear-gas canisters at his funeral, which I attended.

Bassam’s sister, Bassama, was killed 10 years ago when she went to the military court in Ramallah, where Bassam was being remanded in custody. An army interpreter allegedly pushed her down a staircase; as a result, she broke her neck and died, leaving five young children behind.

Photographs of the three hang in the family’s living room in Nabi Saleh, a determined village that is part of the popular Palestinian uprising. Bassam Tamimi, the leader of the uprising, was released this week after his ninth incarceration in an Israeli prison. The latest spell behind bars came after he participated in a nonviolent demonstration calling for the boycotting of Israeli products, held at the entrance to the Rami Levi supermarket in the Geva Binyamin industrial zone, southeast of Ramallah.


This four-month sentence can be added to the other four years Tamimi has previously spent in Israeli prisons. In a poster that reads “Free Bassam Tamimi,” also hanging on one of the living room walls, there is no date. His wife, Nariman, explains that the absence of a date has enabled the poster to be used all the times he has been arrested. She herself has been arrested four times.

For several years, Bassam, 45, has been trying to complete his requirements for a Master’s degree in economics. The problem is that, whenever he makes a little progress toward finishing the requirements, he is arrested and sent to prison. Now he is determined to get a Ph.D.

His village, in the Ramallah district, began its struggle in 2009, on the anniversary of the first intifada 22 years before. Tamimi and his friends from the village, as well as international and Israeli activists, wanted to return to the days of that first intifada, to protest the expulsion of villagers from Nabi Saleh’s well by settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish ‏(previously called Neve Tzuf‏).

Since that time, though, Tamimi has changed his outlook. Whereas previously he supported the two-states-for-two-nations idea, he is now fighting for the concept of a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

This week, the day after his release from prison, Bassam explained his new worldview: “The seizure of the well is only a manifestation of the problem, not the problem itself. The same can be said about the checkpoints, the settlements, the theft of Palestinian lands and the arrests. The real problem is the occupation.

“When the village of Budros succeeded in changing the route of the separation fence, this was a minor victory. The problem is the separation fence, not its route. The problem is not the settlers’ attacks, but rather the settlements themselves. The problem is the occupation, not its various manifestations.

“When a representative of the American consulate visited here a short while after we began our struggle,” he adds, “I told her: ‘Let us say you were Wonder Woman and you could, simply with a toss of your head, make Halamish disappear. Would you solve the problem? Just look around you, at the settlements.’ We believe that our fate is not the occupation but rather the resistance.

“Israel has killed the two-state solution. That is why we must adopt a new strategy, and find a new partner for that strategy in Israeli society. We must kill the occupation and the [sense of] separation in the Israeli consciousness: The separation of people from one another is a question of consciousness. We must never return to this failed pattern of thinking. The future will not change if we continue to think with the same concepts of the past. The solution is a single state. If we believe we have a right to this land and the Israelis believe they are the ones who have a right to this land, we must build a new model. If both of us believe that God gave us this land, we must put history aside and begin to think about the future in different terms.

“I began to be active in the Fatah movement, which means that I supported its ideas,” Bassam says. “For me, as someone who never worked in Israel, the Israeli was the soldier who is shooting, the soldier who is at the checkpoint, or the investigator in prison who caused me to lose consciousness for ten days and to suffer partial paralysis in 1993 after he used considerable physical force while rocking my body during my interrogation. For me, the Israeli was the woman who killed my sister. This was the image of the Israeli in my view, and it made me hate Israelis.

“However, when we began the popular uprising, I met other Israelis, people who believed that I have a right to this land, people who were partners and true cousins. This strengthened my belief that we can learn how to live together. I have no problem in suggesting to Jonathan Pollak [one of the anarchist leaders opposing the separation fence] that he build his house on my roof. But I cannot tolerate the idea that the settlers have settled on my land. My consciousness has changed and it has taken me to the one-state solution, which means the acceptance − not the removal − of the Other. In the past I wanted all of this land without any Israelis. Today, I also accept the Israelis. If we can all change our consciousness, we can create a just country.

“This is hard, I know,” Bassam admits. “Israel wants to kill that idea as well. It wants to build a wall against it, which means that they do not want us. They are returning to the old idea of the desolate land. But we are here and we will continue with our resistance.”

Tamimi’s daughter listens to our conversation. Ahed is a beautiful, blonde-haired young girl of 11 who made her worldwide media debut a few weeks ago when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited her to visit Turkey, together with her mother. A large, elegant album with chrome paper pages − a gift from the Turkish government − displays breathtaking photos from the visit of Ahed and her mother, a visit that was given extensive media coverage. On returning from Turkey, Ahed told her father that, when Erdogan suggested she accompany him on a visit to a refugee camp for Syrian refugees, she turned down the offer. She told the Turkish prime minister that her heart already had enough pain.

A unique case

Bassam Tamimi’s latest sentence came after he saw Israeli police officers attempting to arrest his wife Nariman at the Rami Levi demo, and he ran over in order to free her. The judge at his trial, Maj. Meir Vigisser, wrote: “The accused participated in a demonstration that was declared illegal, and fought with Chief Inspector [Benny] Malka in an attempt to free his wife. In his actions, he was guilty of assaulting a police officer. The case we are dealing with here is unique to a great extent … It does not appear that he intended to enter into a confrontation with the police. A few seconds beforehand, he was seen standing alongside his wife and Chief Inspector Malka and appeared to be in a relaxed mood.”

The Ofer military court in the West Bank sentenced him to four months in prison, a fine of NIS 5,000 and a suspended sentence that will be activated if he dares to participate in “any procession for which no permit has been issued, or in any gathering attended by more than 50 persons.” I ask Bassam what he has gained through his struggle? “The occupation,” he responds, “is still here and is present in every aspect of our lives, so it could be said that we have not attained anything tangible. However, on the other hand, our message is being heard throughout the world. Part of our success is the fact that you two came today to hear what I have to say. And the fact that our children now have more courage to talk about their fate. And the fact that we can correct the negative image of Palestinians in a segment of the international community. And the fact that people in Turkey saw Ahed and heard her speak. But our main target is Israeli society, and there we have made very little headway. Israeli society is moving
further to the right and that is the reason why it is hard to believe that we are getting closer to something substantial. Israel is pushing us back to the idea of the armed struggle in order to again spread the lie that we are terrorists. This worries me very much.

“I am also afraid of [Habayit Hayehudi leader] Naftali Bennett’s plan. He wants Israel to annex all of Area C.”

‏(In accordance with the Oslo II Accords [Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip], signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1995, Judea and Samaria is divided into three sections: A, B and C: Area A, which includes most of the large Palestinian population centers, is mostly under Palestinian Authority ‏(PA‏) civil and security control; Area B is mostly under PA civil control and Israeli security control; and Area C is mostly under Israeli security and civil control, although the PA has authority in civil matters not related to land.‏)

‘Everything is interconnected’

“That means apartheid,” Tamimi continues. “This is Israel’s plan: to banish the Palestinians from all of Area C. For instance, my home is located in Area C and a demolition order has been issued against my home. Yes, you are now in Area C and you can feel secure because here Israel is responsible for security. Some of the houses in this village are in Area C. Half of my cousin’s house is located in Area B and the other half is located in Area C. Thirteen demolition orders have been issued against houses in this village. I have a building permit for part of my house from the Jordanian government; it was issued in 1964.

“The Israelis have issued a demolition order for 300 square meters of my house, although my house measures only 200 square meters. Perhaps I can borrow 100 square meters from Halamish. Although perhaps they will not demolish my house, they have managed to scare me so much that I have decided not to add another floor. In other words, four of my children will have to move to Areas A and B. This is the quiet population transfer. This is ‘gentle’ genocide, where no one is killed. The next generation will leave Area C and only the elderly will remain. Perhaps they will be given Israeli identity cards, but that will be apartheid.

“Because it is for the most part Zionist, the Israeli left wants to change the Palestinian consciousness and adapt it to the Israeli left’s consciousness. It is not prepared to accept our right to our consciousness. The Israeli left wants to change us. It wants to make life easier for us under the occupation, but does not really want to put it to an end. After all, ever since the Oslo era, the total area of land that the Israelis have taken from the Palestinians is five times the area of land that they took before Oslo. However, when I see who comes here every Friday in order to demonstrate with us and to support us in our struggle, I believe that we do have a partner for changing the situation.

“The two-state solution is not just. Jewish holy sites are located in the West Bank. My children love to go to the beach, which is located in Israeli territory. I love to stroll in Jaffa and Acre, which are both located in Israel. Most of Israel’s water is in the West Bank. A large portion of Israel’s revenue comes from tourism, and part of the Palestinian economy is entitled to be based on tourism. Everything is interconnected. I do not want to deny anyone these rights. I want a solution for everyone. I know that such a thing has not always worked out in every place, but the world is moving toward the elimination of all borders and toward economic union.”




Nabi Saleh documentary: Thank God It‘s Friday


 Photo of Mustafa Tamimi, a villager from Nabi Saleh who was killed by Israeli occupation forces with a tear gas canister fired at his face from point-blank range.

Thank God It‘s Friday is Nabi Saleh‘s biggest film debut

By Andrew Beale : Palestine Monitor: February 17, 2013

Thank God it’s Friday probably had the most successful film debut in the village of Nabi Saleh, which premiered on February 2. The village’s cultural center was filled beyond capacity, and seats were hard to find amid an excited, cheering crowd.

The documentary has been in the works for two years and focuses on the ongoing struggle to reclaim the land of Nabi Saleh, much of which was stolen by the neighboring settlement of Halamish. It features interviews and footage of Nabi Saleh residents as well as the settlers living in Halamish.

Belgian filmmakers Jan Beddegenoodts and Niel Iwens collaborated on the project. Beddegenoodts said he was inspired to make the film after attending a demonstration in Nabi Saleh.

“The first time I was in Nabi Saleh, in April 2011, the protests were really violent. It blew my mind,” he said.

The film’s title is a reference to the fact that demonstrations take place in Nabi Saleh every Friday. The demonstrations are marked by intense repression from Israeli security forces, who frequently use skunk water, tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live fire.

Including the settlers was an important part of the project for Iwens and Beddengenoodts because it visually demonstrates the difference between Nabi Saleh, a village suffering from occupation, and Halamish, a settlement bolstered with funding from the Israeli government

During the production of Thank God it’s Friday, Nabi Saleh resident Mustafa Tamimi was killed by Israeli occupation forces with a tear gas canister fired at his face from point-blank range. Almost a year later, another villager Rushdi Tamimi was killed by Israeli soldiers’ live fire. The film features interviews with Mustafa’s family after his death.

“It was really hard seeing his mother witnessing how he got killed, and it was really hard to see how the settlers considered it an accident, when he literally got shot to death,” Iwens said.

Including the settlers was an important part of the project for Iwens and Beddegenoodts because it visually demonstrates the difference between Nabi Saleh, a village suffering from occupation, and Halamish, a settlement bolstered with funding from the Israeli government.

“The first time I went (to Halamish), I was blown away by the contrast,” Beddegenoodts said. “You can see it already from the way it looks from the outside. It looks alien in the Palestinian landscape.”

It’s clear, watching the film, that the settlers in Halamish are not particularly bothered by the damage done by their illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

In one of the film’s most powerful segments, two teenagers in Halamish discuss spending Friday relaxing by the pool, while in the background soldiers can be seen storming up the hill towards Nabi Saleh.

“While the people from Nabi Saleh were focusing on resisting the occupation, the people in Halamish got comfortable,” Beddegenoodts said. The filmmakers hope the film will draw international attention to the problems posed by settlements.

“I think it stays a really obscure news item for most people, and we hope to change this,” Beddegenoodts said. “In this time, in this period of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Thank God it’s Friday can show people why (settlements are) the main obstacle to a solution.”

Although they do not yet have a distributor, the documentarians are committed to showing their movie as widely as possible in order to show the world what is happening in Nabi Saleh.

“We tried to reach out as far as we can with our documentary, especially in the countries where they haven’t got so much knowledge about the conflict,” Iwens said. “I hope after seeing the conflict, the way that things are now, they will start to ask questions.”

Beddegenoodts and Iwens also want to see justice for the death of Mustafa Tamimi, but they do not believe this is likely to happen under the Israeli regime.

“What should be done is a very firm internal investigation, but an internal investigation on the side of Israel almost always results in the excuse of a ‘security issue,'” Iwens said. “There is almost no hope for a proper investigation. What should be done will never be done in this matter.”

Although justice is unlikely to come from Israel, Beddegenoodts and Iwens believe in the power of the people of Nabi Saleh to achieve justice through their struggle.

“I still believe in the people of Nabi Saleh,” Beddegenoodts said. “We must keep faith and hope that change is possible.”

Nabi Saleh marches in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers and Palestinian political prisoners

by Nabi Saleh Solidarity: 15 February 2013

Today’s unarmed demonstration (15 Feb) in Nabi Saleh marched in support of Palestinian hunger strikers, including Samer Issawi, Jafar Ezzedine, Tareq Qa’adan and Yousef Shaaban Yassi. The demonstration was violently attacked by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). During today’s demonstration, the IOF opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, sound grenades and skunk.

An 18 year old women, Rawal Tamimi, was injured when an IOF sound grenade hit her in the head and exploded. She was evacuated to hospital in Ramallah and remains in hospital over night. IOF also injured at least 3 others with rubber bullets and many others suffered from tear gas inhalation. IOF once again sprayed skunk inside the village and at houses – in once instance the IOF used a stun grenade to break the windows of the house of belonging to Bassem and Nariman Tamimi and skunk was sprayed inside the house.

 After weekly demonstration concluded, the IOF Leaving the village temporarily.  However, the IOF later returned to the village, firing teargas directly at houses. Skunk is also being sprayed. The IOF also closed the gate at the checkpoint at the front of the village and are searching cars.

demo- tamimi pressPhoto: Tamimi Press

IOF teargasing themselves - tamimi pressTeargas thrown back at IOF.  Photo: Tamimi Press

women soldiers - tamimi pressNabi Saleh women challenging IOF.  Photo: Tamimi Press

women teargas tamimi pressPhoto: Tamimi Press

rawal tamimi pressRawal Tamimi 18yrs injured by sound grenade thrown by IOF at her head.  Photo: Tamimi Press

rawal injury- keren manorRawal Tamimi being evacuated    Photo: Keren Manor/Activestills

nariman skunk 15 feb 2013Nariman Tamimi cleaning skunk from inside her house.   Photo: Mareike Lauken/

naji and boshra skunk

Boshra and Naji Tamimi scrubbing skunk spayed at their house and in their yard by IOF.  

Photo: Mareike Lauken/

Breaking News: Bassem Tamimi is free

Bassem Tamimi is free. He was released on Sunday, 10 February (Palestinian Time).

Bassem was arrested 4 months ago in the first BDS action in an illegal Israeli colony – a non-violent protest against Rami Levy supermarket.  At the time, Israeli occupation forces violently detained Bassem, breaking three of his ribs in the process. He was subsequently interrogated on participating in an unauthorized demonstration and assault of a police officer.

Bassem has previously spent one year in prison for his non-violent leadership of the popular resistance in Nabi Saleh and released in March 2012.  During his previous imprisonment he was recognised as a human rights defender by the European Union and a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.

abir kopty-bassemBassem hugs his wife, Nariman.  Photo by Abir Kopty

keren manorBassem with his wife, Nariman. Photo by: Keren Manor/

oren zivBassem with wife Nariman at welcome home party: Photo by Oren Ziv: Activestills

Ashira HakanBassem with his children.  Photo by Ashira Hakan

2 Ashira HakanWelcome home party for Bassem: Photo by Ashira Hakan