Forty anti-Israel students and community organizations plan to protest Wednesday at New York's Penn Station in a show of support for a teenaged Palestinian arrested by Israeli authorities for assaulting two Israeli soldiers.
The "Free Ahed Tamimi" campaign calls for the release of the Palestinian teen who was arrested Dec. 19 for assault after she and her cousin were filmed hitting two IDF soldiers in the West Bank earlier that week. The Tamimi family has claimed that the soldiers Ahed assaulted had shot a relative in the head with a rubber bullet an hour before the filmed incident. In the footage, which went viral, the soldiers are not seen physically responding to Tamimi.
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Nerdeen Kiswani, president of the New York City chapter Students for Justice in Palestine, which is co-organizing the Penn Station activity, said in a statement, "We must demand the release of Ahed Tamimi, who is held in Zionist captivity paid for by U.S. tax dollars that funded the soldiers who harassed and shot her family in the first place.
Kiswani has often expressed her support for extremist forms of anti-Israel activism, galvanizing the crowd at a December Times Square rally at which speakers called for the violent end to Israel and celebrating a 2017 track-ramming attack in which four Israeli soldiers were killed as a "F- you" to "settlers."
NYC SJP will be among three chapters in attendance at Penn Station from the SJP student activist network, which claims to have nearly 200 affiliated chapters on U.S. campuses. The SJP clubs at the New School and the College of Staten Island are also listed as co-sponsors of the protest.
Leadership at SJP, the chief campus organizer of anti-Israel activity, have been linked to Palestinian terror activities, while the presence of the group at a university has been correlated to an increase in anti-Semitism on campus in multiple studies.
Other groups listed as co-organizers include representatives of the socialist and anarchist movements.
Further demonstration are planned for throughout the week across the United States and the United Kingdom, including outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, ahead of the expected start of Tamimi's trial in February.
The "Free Ahed Tamimi" has gained traction beyond the Palestinian community that has long hoisted Tamimi as a heroine of sorts, landing her on the home page of the Amnesty International website. The human rights lobby hailed Tamimi as the "Rosa Parks of Palestine," and demanded Tamimi be released "without any delay."
Ahed began to gain international attention in 2012, when she was photographed at about age 10 confronting an IDF soldier with raised fists.