Pains of Exodus / by Sophie Schor

Manel Tamimi, January 2015

Manel Tamimi, January 2015

April 3, 2015

I met Manel Tamimi while traveling through the West Bank in January. She welcomed us into her home in Nabeh Saleh and spoke with us about the horrors her family faces under occupation.

Nabeh Saleh is a well known friction point for resistance and holds weekly protests every Friday. The village organizes itself and attempts to walk from their homes across the valley to the spring that used to belong to them. The spring is now a part of the settlement which was built above it. There’s a brilliant profile in the New York Times that describes the Tamimi family and the village.

Manel told us that she classifies herself as a non-violent resistor, but could not call herself peaceful. She said,”I can’t be peaceful in that moment when an Israeli soldier enters my house to arrest my 14 year old son. When I’m watching 2 of my cousins dying in front of me. When my 8 year old faints after being shot with tear gas and the soldier is smiling. Yet, I am nonviolent because a mothers pain is the same pain. I refuse any mother to experience this pain because I’ve experienced it. I understand the meaning of losing your beloved and waiting for your beloved.”

Manel was shot by an Israeli soldier in the leg today with live ammo during the weekly protest.

I heard about this as I am heading to my family’s kibbutz in the south to celebrate Passover—a holiday that marks the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and their arrival to the land of milk and honey. It is my family’s tradition to have long conversations that are interrupted by food and singing all night long. We often discuss the idea of freedom and I have grown up repeating every year that we are not free until all peoples are free. This sentence has never rung more true for me than in this moment. While we were talking with Manel, she said “Even if one day we free Palestine, I am going to fight for others. Because if you are a human you are going to fight against the pain of others.”

There is weird parallelism in being here in Israel, on my way to the Kibbutz which was founded in 1953, to be surrounded by cousins and tradition, and to know at the same time that across the wall, not so far away, people are hurting because of this claim to this land.