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A Palestinian activist jailed at sixteen after a confrontation with Israeli soldiers shines a light on the daily struggles of life under occupation in this moving, deeply personal memoir.
“What would you do if you grew up repeatedly seeing your home raided? Your parents arrested? Your mother shot? Your uncle killed? Try, if just for a moment, to imagine this was your life. How would you want the world to react?”
Ahed Tamimi’s father was born in 1967, the year that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began, and every aspect of their family’s life has been touched by it. One of Ahed’s earliest memories is visiting her father in prison, poking her three-year-old fingers through the fence to touch his hand. The ubiquitous military checkpoints and armed soldiers even found their way into her childhood fairytales and playdates. Her grandmother regaled her not with nursery rhymes, but with the sage of her family and its tragedies. Instead of cops and robbers, there was Jaysh o ‘Arab, or “Army and Arabs,” where children roleplayed as Israeli soldiers opposing a community of Palestinians.
She recounts all of this and more in her vivid and riveting memoir, one of the first to deal directly with what life in occupation actually means for the people in it, beyond geography or policy. It brings readers into the daily life of the young woman seen as a freedom-fighting hero by some and a naïve agitator by others. Beyond recounting her well-publicized interactions with Israeli soldiers, there is her unwavering commitment to family and her fearless command of her own voice, despite threats, intimidation, and even incarceration.
An essential addition to a complicated conversation, They Called Me a Lioness lets each of us see what is at stake for the people who live in the West Bank. With their honest, unflinching reflections of a lifelong struggle, Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri shine a light on the humanity not just in the pro-Palestine movement, but all political efforts that speak for the unsung.