Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nariman Tamimi arrested in Nabi Saleh, 8-24

Nariman Tamimi is arrested at Nabi Saleh's weekly demonstration while she and her children protest the seizure of their land.

The segment is from 2:30-7:30. Before she's arrested, Nariman says, "if this is a closed military zone, then why are the settlers there?"


Afterwards the daughters are talking to the soldiers and I think they're saying, "what would your father and your mother say?" One of the daughters is blonde. Might that look wrong to some people?


Coming back from Palestine means living with some fucked up certainties. One is the increasing frequency of the gasp moment, finding out something bad has just happened to someone you know. You can be on your way out the door, or reading an e-mail at lunch, or going to bed and checking Facebook, when you learn that someone has just been arrested, or has their house torn down, or raided in the middle of the night.

I just saw this video, and I don't know what has happened to Nariman, if she's been freed, or if she's still sitting in a cell somewhere.

I went to Nabi Saleh three times, and met Nariman twice. The first time was with a group of about 20 Israelis and Palestinians, from the Crossing Borders group in Jerusalem. The children served us juice and tea and cookies (probably chocolate wafers, those were big there) and worked on their homework while Nariman talked to us about her husband's detention. Bassem had been detained for almost a year at that point, and the group wanted to know how they could help. Most of the senior members knew Bassem. He was the organizer of Nabi Saleh's protests against the confiscation of their land and water by Israeli settlers. He was arrested by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night, at home, and detained for a renewable sixth month term, i.e. indefinitely.

 I had never met Bassem, but it was a strange feeling, being in a Palestinian household without the father figure, and that absence being so...heavy.

So Nariman conducted the meeting on her own, with footage from past demonstrations and night raids playing on the TV. It seemed she had been at the forefront of most of them. I was transfixed on the footage for a while, but it mirrored what had happened in Bil'in so I knew it, and it was depressing. Boys being rustled out of bed to have their photos taken, tear gas and sound bombs being thrown into houses, half-dressed boys being hauled into the back of a jeep while mothers cry and the holder of the camera is threatened with a gun.

The second time I saw Nariman was at a Nabi Saleh demonstration, my first and last. She greeted me, but I don't think she remembered me, there are enough blonde activists coming through the village. Bassem still hadn't been released. I got a lot of footage, but I decided not to go back because there was ammunition fired and it scared the crap out of me. I remember my friend Hamdi laughing as I ran away saying, "oh shit, oh shit...." Even with a twisted sense of humor, I don't know how someone can live like this.

Nariman went on a speaking tour in Europe soon after that, and Bassem was released a few months later. On Nakba Day, I arrived in Zamn Cafe in Ramallah, and he was sitting on the couch, with my friends, who knew him from prison back in the day. They were joking and laughing as they normally were, Bassem seemed like a much-loved brother. We had a good conversation, and he let me do a video interview about his detention. We walked to the Nabka Day demonstration in Arafat Square (aka Times Circle) and parted ways there.

I know a handful of people who would know for sure if Nariman has been released. Just waiting to find out...

 This is a shorter segment that was aired on Palestinian News...