I have been watching, with alarm, the massive invasion by the Israeli military of cities and towns all over the West Bank, watching the round-up of Palestinians, including the hand-cuffed and blindfolded boy pictured here, with horror.
My heart sank at the photos of a family member kissing goodbye the corpse of a 20-year old Palestinian youth shot and killed.
I believe that Israel’s reaction to the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli youths is not only out of all proportion, but is a cynical, callous political manouever rather than a focused effort to find the three missing boys.
And I know the context of the occupation. I know, all too well, that Palestinian youth are regularly arrested by the Israeli military in nighttime raids, I know that Israeli jails are filled with Palestinian children. I understand that Israel routinely denies the rights of Palestinian children. I have dedicated and will continue to dedicate a good part of my life working to expose and condemn these realities of a brutal, illegal occupation.
And still. And still. I am having difficulty reading the Facebook posts and Tweets coming through my feed that are reminding me of all that I wrote above, because those posts feel to me, somehow, like a justification for the abudction of the three Israeli teens. Even the posts that express something along the lines of, “It’s wrong, but let’s not forget…”
Everything that comes after the “but” is, in some way, a justification. And nothing can justify the abduction of children–and, two of the youth are sixteen-years old are, making them, legally, children. As Aseel Asleh was a child. As Trayvon Martin was a child.
It comes down to this: if we believe (and I hope we all believe) that children must be protected, equally, everywhere, then we must, at the very least, hold this principle consistently. Whether the children in question are Palestinian children subjected to being rounded up, arrested and tortured by Israeli military, Nigerian children kidnapped and held for months, Syrian children being strafed from above and starved on the ground, or, yes–Israeli children, be they in Tel Aviv or yeshiva students in a right-wing settlement. We must speak out about the fact that it is wrong to harm children. Unequivocally. It is wrong to harm children.
I have spent a good bit of my writing/filmmaking devoted to the basic notion that the life of a Palestinian child is every bit at important as the life of an Israeli child. And one could make the case, not incorrectly, that the amount of media attention on the 3 missing Israeli youths far outweighs the exposure given to the routine violence that Palestinian children growing up under occupation face, or indeed the increased violence they are facing now, in the wake of the “search” for the youths.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that every child, the child in the photo above bound and blindfolded, and the children who disappeared as they were hitchhiking home, deserve for all of us to demand that they be safe, that they be protected. Without qualification.