Sarah Silverman wades into Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tiptoes back out


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Comedian Sarah Silverman started a heated conversation on Twitter about the Palestinian teen being held in an Israeli jail for slapping and harassing Israeli soldiers.

“Jews have to stand up EVEN when — ESPECIALLY when — the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government,” Silverman tweeted on Friday, providing a link to an Amnesty International campaign calling to Free Ahed Tamimi.

Tamini, 17, has been charged with 12 counts, including aggravated assault, hindering a soldier in the line of duty, incitement, threatening a soldier’s life and rock throwing. The indictment covers six incidents in recent months in which she was involved in altercations with Israeli soldiers, including the Dec. 15 slapping incident that was captured on video and went viral on social media.

She has been ordered held in prison until the end of legal proceedings against her. Last week, an Israeli military judge closed the courtroom to all but family members. The teen’s attorney argued to keep the trial, which has piqued international interest, open to the public.

Silverman’s original tweet generated dozens of responses – from those who called her way off base to those defending Tamini’s actions, some using much stronger language.

Among those who responded were Frimet and Arnold Roth, parents of Malki Roth, 15, who was killed in a Palestinian suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001.

“Entertainers exploiting their fame are often a poor choice for clarifying what’s moral or good. Sarah, did you stand up for our daughter Malki and the other 15 Jewish lives extinguished by Ahlam Tamimi, Ahed’s cousin and role-model-in-life? Do you stand with Ahed’s call to kill?” the Roths tweeted to Silverman.

Ahlam Tamimi, who assisted in the Sbarro attack, was arrested and imprisoned by Israel, and pleaded guilty to her role in the attack. She now lives in Jordan after being released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

On Sunday, Silverman admitted to not knowing enough about the conflict and announced that she would retweet pieces from people who are on the ground in Israel and Palestine.

She then retweeted responses on both sides of the conflict.

Early on Monday she capitulated, tweeting: “Dear palestinians/jews/israelis/and everyone w an opinion: I can only speak for me & all I care about is what is true, & what is just. Unfortunately, from what I see, those things seem to be wildly subjective. Only God/Allah/Hashem/Mr. Rogers knows….”

Her followers tweeted their continuing support. “Just please never stop doing what you do,” tweeted one. Others indicated their approval of including Mr. Rogers in her list of deities.

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