“Out of pure mischief I added the tag ‘There is a Real Wonder Woman’.”
Ahed Taimimi. The Real Wonder Woman. 2018. The accidental creation of a new iconic image.
Like the iconic image of Che Guevara that I created in 1968 out of outrage at the manner of his murder, this newly iconic image of young Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi came from outrage at injustice when I read of her arrest and treatment by the occupying Israeli forces and the persecution of her family and the entire village of Nabi Saleh by Israeli occupation forces.
Rewind to last Christmas 2017:
I was struck down by a deadly dose of the dreaded ManFlu (yep, that one) and
was unable to draw or paint so I was passing time looking at Google images of Ahed Tamimi, whose story I was following, mostly on social media.
Through Google, I found this beautiful image of Ahed waving the flag of Palestine atop a hill, taken by a very brave Israeli photographer Haim Schwartzenberg who always seems to be able to capture amazing images of this very local conflict around the little village where Ahed and her family live.
I decided to do a little drawing and post it on my own social media to try to draw attention to this story.
It was a very quick sketch, a simple line drawing and my daughter, Suzanne, suggested I add colour to it to give it more impact. I printed out my little drawing (only A4, letterhead size) slightly larger, in blue on watercolour paper.
I had fun over the next few hours painting it -kind of like a children’s book illustration and I kept it very simple as Ahed herself and the flag were the focus of attention. I added my name and logo discreetly on her jeans and that was that.
I posted it to some nice reaction but nothing special and time went by.
The real Wonder Woman
I wanted to see the Wonder Woman movie as I am a huge comic book fan and of course I remembered reading that the star of Wonder Woman was former IDF soldier Gal Gadot, who I discovered supported this occupation of Palestine.
(I do not know Gal Gadot and this is not directed at her personally but at the illegal occupation, the Israeli government, and the IDF.)
Out of pure mischief, I added the tag ‘There is a Real Wonder Woman’ in Photoshop and the comic book logo underneath.
I put it up on my own website as a free download and moved on.
‘When saves one life saves the world entire’.
There were real and brutal threats made to her life and I genuinely thought they would eventually try to kill her as they had with her 17-year-old cousin while her 11-year-old cousin was shot in the head.
I remembered the Talmud: ‘When saves one life saves the world entire’.
That was good enough for me and this motivated me to fight back and try to spread this image asap in the hope it would make the Israeli authorities think twice before harming her, as their reputation for abuse of imprisoned children was quite brutal, to say the least, according to Amnesty International.
I was interviewed by BBC World Services, RT -Russia TV, Al-Jazeera, and dozens of western and middle eastern news outlets and the rest is history.
On Al-Jazeera’s Facebook page alone it quickly reached 2.4 million views with 50,000 shares.
For the first time in my life, I went VIRAL. Well, not myself but the image of Ahed Tamimi I had so casually created almost by accident.
Mad stuff. Of course, I was trolled viciously but who cares. This amazing girl’s story was being told to a massive audience and my favourite human rights group, the Jewish Voice for Peace.
I am absolutely amazed my little painting and my mischievous use of a comic book heroine created such a stir.
It took my vision of Che Guevara 50 years to spread; this one took no more than 50 hours.
And I’m still absolutely staggered.
One last thought: I do hope that fantastic teenager grows up and has a real life -that of a real teenager and later the life of a fine young woman -no more, no less.
Jim FitzPatrick. Ireland 2018.