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Bassem Tamimi Tag

A firestorm of controversy erupted in Ithaca, NY, hometown of Cornell University and Ithaca College, when it was learned that local anti-Israel activists brought highly controversial Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to third grade class. Tamimi is best known for using children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers to create viral video and photo opportunities. He also is an advocate of children taking part in resistance activities, including stone throwing. To pro-Palestinian activists, however, he is a symbol of Israeli repression. The third-grade presentation was skewed and biased against Israel, according to a statement issued by the Ithaca City School District Superintendent, after an investigation. Among other things, after seeing videos and hearings stories of how Palestinian children suffer at the hands of Israelis, the third graders were urged to become "freedom fighters for Palestine."

The misnamed "Jewish Voice for Peace" (JVP) has launched a national campaign along with other anti-Israel groups to claim that "pro-Palestinian" speech is stifled around the country. In fact, The accusation of speech stifling is a passive-aggressive move to preclude legitimate criticism. As we demonstrated, what JVP and other such groups really want is Freedom from Criticism. Two events in Ithaca and Rochester, New York, are being used by JVP to claim a "wave of censorship and bullying is sweeping upstate New York." As we demonstrate below, JVP has seriously misstated what happened, and those events show the contrary to what JVP is claiming.

JVP's Anti-Israel Event to Third Graders in Ithaca

One of, it not the first, actions JVP took in furtherance of the "stifling" campaign is unfolding in upstate New York. In ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ defends anti-Israel Third Grade event, we explained that the local Ithaca JVP branch, run by anti-Zionist (and now Code Pink) activist Ariel Gold, is defending bringing the highly controversial Bassem Tamimi to a third grade class as part of a one-sided presentation demonizing Israel.

We previously reported how activists in Ithaca, New York, arranged a one-sided anti-Israel presentation to the Third Grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School, which included local Jewish Voice for Peace activist Ariel Gold and Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi. Tamimi is best known for using children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers to create viral photo and video. He also advocates using children in protests, including setting up roadblocks, and rock throwing. Tamimi is on a national speaking tour, co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, and had two other appearances in the Ithaca area in addition to the third grade appearance. When news of the third grade event came to the attention of the Ithaca City School District Superintendent Luvelle Brown, he launched an investigation, and at the end of that investigation issued a strongly worded statement condemning what had happened. The statement reads, in part:

In a stunning development, Luvelle Brown, Superintendent of Schools, Ithaca (NY) City School District, has acknowledged that serious anti-Israel agitation took place when controversial Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi appeared with local anti-Israel activists before third graders, ending in a call to activism:
"In a closing statement of how students could help, a speaker spoke of solidarity and being freedom fighters for Palestine; to bring peace and protect the future of their children."
Brown stated, among other thing, that such statements and others were inappropriate:
"The Ithaca City School District’s position is that such statements are not developmentally appropriate for third graders, nor aligned with the New York State standards. The statements were politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District."
The full letter is later in this post. But first, the background of how we reached this point.

Bassem Tamimi and Ariel Gold

On Sunday night, September 20, 2015, Legal Insurrection broke the story how Anti-Israel activism hits elementary school in Ithaca, NY:
An uproar is brewing in Ithaca, New York, after anti-Israel activists bragged on Facebook how they managed to bring Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to a third-grade class as part of a presentation on the suffering of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel.
That third grade event took place on Friday, September 18.

See this important update: Superintendent: Third Grade event “politically skewed, inflammatory” against Israel An uproar is brewing in Ithaca, New York, after anti-Israel activists bragged on Facebook how they managed to bring Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to a third-grade class as part of a presentation on the suffering of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel. According to the activists, the event took place on Friday morning, September 18, 2015 at the Beverly J. Martin Elementary School. Tamimi is best known for his use of children, including his own, for media purposes. The game goes like this: Tamimi's children and other children from the village of Nabi Saleh are encouraged to confront Israeli soldiers in the hope of provoking a reaction. The children are surrounded by a phalanx of photographers and videographers waiting for the viral moment when the Israeli soldier reacts, which then is fed to the media through the Tamimi media operation and international activists who often participate. Tamimi's daughter Ahed (the blond girl in this 2012 video) is world famous for such staged confrontations, having been given a heroism award by the anti-Israel Prime Minister of Turkey for this performance:

Ithaca Jewish Voice for Peace is sponsoring two events in Ithaca and Cortland, NY, honoring and celebrating Bassem Tamimi. The first event, in Ithaca, is at 5:30 p.m. today, September 17, 2015. The "host" of the event is Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine, run by the same people who run Ithaca JVP. They use various group names for various purposes to create the appearance they are a larger movement than they are. They recently also formed a group called Vegans Against The Occupation (seriously), using as their featured image in the left sidebar Ariel Gold, the leader of Ithaca JVP.  The anti-Israel movement in Ithaca is very interconnected, and run by a handful of activists. Why is Ithaca JVP celebrating and glorifying Bassem Tamimi? Tamimi, you may recall, has perfected the art of using children (including his own) to confront Israeli soldiers to create viral photos and video.  We set forth the evidence in great detail in two prior posts: Tamimi's daughter, Ahed was featured in a video in 2012 which has many millions of views, in which she screamed at Israeli soldiers and shook her fist at them, as other children gathered around trying to provoke a reaction. It all was a set up for the cameras, as the video below exposes.

Just a week before the prominent Palestinian activist leader Bassem al-Tamimi embarks on a month-long speaking tour in the U.S., he and his family attracted massive media attention when a clip of one of the clashes they provoked with the IDF went viral. Daily Mail Ahed Tamimi bites Israeli Soldier2 The Tamimis are used to sympathetic media coverage, including a fawning New York Times Magazine cover story in March 2013 on the family's ambition to start a "Third Intifada". Bassem Tamimi is usually presented as  an admirable organizer of “nonviolent resistance” who can count on the support of Amnesty International and who has been praised as a “human rights defender” by the European Union. By contrast, Bassem Tamimi’s views on the “right to resist” that he often invokes and the use of his children in his activism – including regular efforts to challenge the IDF into responding to provocations like rock-throwing – have so far largely escaped scrutiny. Yet, just a few hours of research reveal many easily discoverable cracks in the carefully cultivated image of the Tamimis as peaceful activists and “non-violent” protesters.

Use of Children to Confront Soldiers as Cameras Roll

The Tamimis are best known for the 2012 video of daughter Ahed confronting Israeli soldiers for the cameras:

A video of an Israeli soldier near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh being confronted by women and children is making the rounds. It has over a million views on Facebook alone. (Embedded towards end of this post.) As you view the history below, don't blame the children. They are victims of their family's abuse which puts them in harms way for photo-ops. Were these children treated such a way in the U.S., there is no doubt that local family services agencies would be involved in preventing their dangerous exploitation by their parents. In the current incident, the soldier, according to Israeli authorities, was in the process of detaining a member of the Tamimi clan of Nabi Saleh for stone throwing. Haaretz reports:
An Israeli soldier tried to detain a minor during clashes in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, but a number of Palestinian women and children managed to stop him. According to the army, the youth was throwing stones at the troops, who did not realize he was a minor. Photographs taken by Reuters and AFP show the soldier surrounded by women and children. In one of the images, a young girl is seen biting his hand. The soldier was lightly wounded as a result of the altercation. The commander in the area decided to release the minor. The army said that one other Palestinian was detained in Friday's clashes, along with one foreign activist.
Haaretz quotes left-wing Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, who denies Israel even has a right to exist, as denying that there was stone throwing. The fact Pollak was present makes the whole incident suspect, in addition to the background of the Tamimi family. Now, questions are being raised by The Daily Mail of Britain and others as to whether the current incident was deliberately provoked because Tamimi members were involved. The most famous photo shows a girl biting the hand of the Israeli soldier. That girl is Ahed Tamimi.