Monday, May 16, 2016

Child Abuse

Listen to Susan Abulhawa:

They start terrorizing us at a young age. At any given time, Israel typically holds hundreds of Palestinian children in administrative detention, where they are interrogated and tortured without charge, without trial, without their parents, without a lawyer, without an advocate. They’re often kidnapped on their way to and from school, playing in the streets and throwing rocks at tanks, as they have a right to do, or pulled from their beds and dragged away in the middle of the night. They’re shot and murdered or maimed wherever they stand.[1]

And to Rabbi Joseph Berman, Government Affairs Liaison for Jewish Voice for Peace who says:

Almost half of the 5 million Palestinian people living under military occupation are children. These young people who should be free to play, learn, develop, and grow, must live with the constant fear of home demolitions, physical violence and even imprisonment at the hands of Israeli forces… Every year, hundreds of Palestinian children are being arrested, held in inhumane conditions, and denied their rights of due process by Israeli military kangaroo courts. Every year, 75% of those children suffer documented abuse or mistreatment at the hands of Israeli forces. And Israel just brought back  “administrative detention” for children, allowing the IDF to lock up children indefinitely, without even bringing a charge.

           440 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are locked up in Israeli military prisons. Pulled            from their beds and dragged away in the middle of the night

I can only imagine the pain felt by children watching their parents being abused by Israeli kids in uniforms carrying guns. In their young life they have lived not only with the theft of their homes and water but also their history and dignity. Their parents have no way of protecting them and they know it.

However, with all the injustice, suffering and humiliation inflicted upon Palestinian children, what Israel is doing to its own children is child abuse at its worse.

Israel teaches every day by its rhetoric and actions that because they are Jewish, somehow they are superior to other children, that it’s OK to rob and kill other human beings because Jewish kids are “God chosen people.”  Even if the children of Israel do not as yet know what is being done in the name of their Jewishness, they will someday learn. Perhaps then, they will be embarrassed, or worse. They might buy into their role of living above the rules of civilization.

The pain will come when they grow up to live in a world that will not see them as superior, but simply as arrogant. When that happens, Jewish children will have one of three choices; Live in isolation, which in the modern world is getting harder and harder to do. Or accept the fact that they have been terribly abused as children by their own people and government. Or put on blinders and blame their loneliness on anti-Semitism.  Regardless, they will have been assigned to a life of isolation and loneliness.  

I call this the worst form of child abuse. I cannot imagine anything that would infuriate me more  than to have someone come along and tell my children that they do not have to live by the same rules of courtesy and justice as everyone else because they are exceptional.  I cannot imagine anything that would guarantee more unhappiness. Not only would they be miserable, they would spread their misery to anyone who loves them.

Golda Meir said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”  Well, I have news for her. It was not the “Arabs” who turned her children into killers. It was their own Jewish superiority culture. Israel’s attitude that Jews are superior human beings and all who are not Jews are less deserving simply because they are not Jews. I find myself asking, what are the parents of these children thinking. Then I remember, they were abused in exactly the same way when they were children. 

Thomas Are
May 16, 2016

[1] Susan Abulhawa, Why We’re Suing the U.S. Treasury Department.  Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  May 2016, p.55.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Raining Rockets

Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. said on CNN,  “We have thousands of rockets raining down on our citizens.” In fact, we hear over and over again, “rockets are raining” down on Israel.  It makes a strong impression.

Advertisers will tell you that the essence of propaganda is repetition.  So, we hear on FOX News, repeated reports of “rockets raining” down on Israel.  It is such an important image that Israel will do anything to keep it alive, even when rockets stop. In the summer of 2008, Palestinian sources reported 8 rockets in June, 12 in July, 11 in August, 4 in September and 2 in October.  An Israeli Intelligence Report issued by the Israeli government to international journalists  states, “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire.” There were no deaths by rockets because there were no rockets.[1] 

Not the image of “rockets raining” that Israel wants.  An average of four drops per month hardly qualifies as a rain.  When I look out on my front drive and see four drops, I hardly expect to read in the paper that we had a rainy day.  If there are not enough drops to wet the street or water my hedges, I don’t expect my neighbor to say, “Wow! What a rainy day.”

Back in 2008, Israel had a dilemma. How to maintain the victim image of rockets raining down on innocent women and children when there are no rockets? After six month of rocket absence, on November 4th  Israel invaded Gaza and killed six Palestinians.  Did you get that date? November 4th was election night in the US when Barack Obama was elected president. Israel planned its invasion precisely at a time when it was almost guaranteed no one in America was watching news from Israel. We were all saturated in the counting of votes so significant to our own lives.  When Gaza responded by firing rockets, Israel screamed of being attacked and was defending itself. 

Israel bombarded Gaza with 600 tons of rockets, killing over 1400 Palestinians. Americans expressed shock. Israeli spokespersons simply asked, what would you do if rockets were raining down on your family?

So, what would you do? Maybe ask what made Palestinians with no power, so desperate that they fired a few weak, unguided missiles into Israel.  Could it be that it’s the only way to remind the world that they are still suffering oppression under a brutal occupation?

Thomas Are
May 10, 2016

[1] These statistics and quotes are lifted from the Media Education Foundation documentary, The Occupation of the American Mind, 2016.