On the fate of children. Everywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.23.16 AMI 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.




Filed under Human Rights, Palestine/Israel

7 responses to “On the fate of children. Everywhere.

  1. Doreen Shapiro

    Well said, Keep a song in your heart

  2. Wynn M Chapman

    Thank you Jen for a clearheaded and at the same time heartfelt reaction to the appalling treatment of thePalestinians in Israel, as well as to children in dreadful situations in other countries . I see Israel in the blackest of lights, I’m afraid, but still hated the fact that the three youngsters were kidnapped and separated from their families. The upcoming generations of both sides have a bleak future I fear.

  3. Chaya

    Hi Jen – I’m an admirer of your work! I love your unqualified condemnation of these kidnapping. But I have two questions -what do you mean by “allegedly” kidnapped?

    I’m not even sure you can answer this, but I’m also left wondering why, when these Palestinians (note: not all Palestinians) know that the IDF will do anything it deems necessary to find these kids including imperiling the lives of Palestinian civilians, they would take them in the first place – it seems like they’re setting their own population up for terror and failure.

    • Hi Chaya,
      Thanks for your comment about my work!
      To answer your first question, I used the word “alleged” because, as far as I am aware, there is no concrete evidence of the kidnapping–it is assumed that this is what happened to the boys, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, and am not trying to suggest otherwise–but unless I am mistaken, there has been no verification. So, because as far as I am aware, it is not known 100% for sure (and please correct me if I am mistaken in that)–I felt it wise/accurate to use the word alleged.
      And–I really can’t answer your second question–I can not speak for, nor would I try to speak for, nor would I want to speak for those who committed this crime.

      • Chaya

        I’m not a frequent reader of your work (although I should be). But, I guess I wonder whether or not you use the word “alleged” about Palestinian kids being rounded up, the situation for both children and adults in Syria, for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, when it’s hard to know 100% that that is the situation for them.

  4. Hi Chaya,
    I agree, everyone should be frequent readers of my work! 😉
    To answer your question, I would not use the word “alleged” in those other examples, as there are many sources to back up those statements.
    In this case, much of the coverage I have seen has used language such as “feared kidnapped” and from what I can see, there’s very little concrete evidence that has been shared–which is why I called it an allegation. I did see something (just now, upon some deeper digging) that ISIS claimed responsibility, but I don’t know if that’s actually being taken seriously–I haven’t seen that thread picked up on.
    Anyway, I’m certainly not trying to claim that anything else happened to the kids other than the prevailing assumption that they were kidnapped–but I think the word ‘allege’ is still reasonable until there’s something more concrete that makes it other than an allegation. One that is highly probably, but still…
    Not sure if the ISIS claiming responsibility means anything further–I need to look into that more and see if that’s being taken as a real thing…

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