Members of the Tamimi family in Nabi Saleh, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, have responded to revelations that an Israeli committee conducted a secret investigation into whether they are ‘real’.
“No one ever asked us if we were a real family,” said Bassem Tamimi, the father of Ahed, the 16-year-old currently facing charges in an Israeli military court for confronting soldiers in her front yard.
Bassem told Haaretz that when he heard about the classified investigation, he “burst out laughing”.
“I thought – how can this be? Is this the level the occupation has reached? The proof of our existence here can be found way, way, way before the State of Israel”.
Haaretz broke the story on Wednesday that the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee conducted a secret investigation into whether the Tamimi family in Nabi Saleh are “real” or actors.
According to a statement by the office of Michael Oren, currently a deputy minister and a former Israeli ambassador to the US, the Knesset committee investigated the Tamimis two years ago, but the inquiry “didn’t reach unequivocal conclusions”.
The inquiry reportedly “heard testimony from the Shin Bet security service, the National Security Council and nongovernmental organizations”.
Oren told the paper that the committee looked into whether “members of the family were chosen for their appearance” – blond, blue-eyed and light-skinned. “Also clothing. A real costume. American dress in every respect, not Palestinian, with backward baseball caps”.
Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Ahed, her mother, Nuriman, and Nur in the current legal proceedings, said that news of the Knesset inquiry made her feel “shame and worry”.
“Worry, because the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is an important Knesset committee, which is supposed to ensure the security of the state and not deal with outlandish conspiracy theories”, she told Haaretz.
“And shame that an MK, today a deputy minister who is responsible for diplomacy, is revealed to be a kind of racist who can’t accept that a Palestinian who doesn’t wear a galabiya can be real”.
Meanwhile, Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka has demanded that the Knesset reveal the minutes of the secret committee meeting on the Tamimis.
“The discussion is of interest to the public and making it public will not harm national security, therefor there is good reason to publish the protocols so the public could judge for itself”, he said.
Zahalka said this was only the latest “racist” incident involving US-born Michael Oren.