By: Frimet Roth
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, March 27, 2008
The welfare of Palestinian children has always stood at the center of the Middle East conflict. Whether in debates, in photographs or in casualty figures they are the substance of the local news.
In the early days of the Second Intifada, Israeli Brigadier General Benjamin Gantz (now Israel's military attache in the US) appeared on the popular American television program, Sixty Minutes, hosted by Bob Simon, in a segment entitled "To Be Continued..."
Predictably, the discussion turned to Palestinian children. With candor and prescience rarely encountered nowadays, Gantz tackled the issue head on. He asserted that Palestinians often deliberately place their children at the front lines of the clashes where they are killed, adding: "When they are sending their kids forward and they are firing at us and then the kids are in the killing zone so unfortunately, really unfortunately, those things happen."
Simon seemed aghast and asked: "Do you really think that the Palestinians are actually pushing their kids to the front line?"
Gantz affirmed this.
Simon, incredulous, pressed on: "With the objective of creating casualties?"
Gantz did not budge: "That's right, sir. I'm sure that they are trying to get the world to see that Israel is a terrible, cruel people and cruel army and that's really what they want to do."
By now, Simon seemed apoplectic: "Is this something that you can really imagine? That there are people who would do that, who would get their, their kids killed or wounded to make good television?"
When Gantz said yes, Simon concluded: "In other words, the Palestinians are really different from Israelis in that respect?"
For those mired in this awful ongoing war, his words could not ring truer.
To us, it is obvious that people who not only allow their children to chill out beside missile launchers, but who actually send them to die fighting, are not loving. In fact they do not fit any definition of "parent" that we can find.
People in the West may find this difficult to digest. Such conduct is considered child abuse in their societies. It is aberrant, criminal and punishable.
Moreover, they hear the incessant harangue of Palestinian spokesmen insisting they love and protect their children just the way Western parents do theirs. No Israeli army officer, not even Gantz, is going to convince them otherwise.
But perhaps Hamas MP, Fathi Hammad, could do the job. A speech he gave on February 29, 2008 and broadcast on the Al Aqsa television channel, is currently circulating on the Internet with English subtitles (see www.memritv.org/clip/en/1710.htm "We Used Women and Children as Human Shields"). It is compelling footage.
"For the Palestinian people", Hammad boasts in Arabic, "death has become an industry at which women excel and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this and so do the mujahideen and the children."
Hammad then confirms everything that Bob Simon found inconceivable:
"This is why they [the Palestinian people] have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine."
The Palestinians are careful to only utter these truths in Arabic and amongst themselves. Such revelations are never intended for wider consumption. Non-Muslims are only exposed to hand-picked, English speaking, articulate representatives, such as Dr. Hanan Ashrawi.
She was entrusted with the rebuttal of Gantz' allegations that day on Sixty Minutes, and did so with aplomb.
"To me this is the essence, the epitome, of racism", she railed indignantly. "They're telling us we are – we have no feelings for our children? We're not parents? We're not mothers or fathers? This is just incredible."
Indeed it is. But we in the Middle East learned long ago that reality can be incredible. The staging of 12 year old Mohammed Al-Durah's shooting in October, 2000, which at first seemed ridiculously far-fetched has been almost definitively proven true.
That segment of 60 Minutes was entitled "To Be Continued..." because that was the caption on posters distributed across the Arab world depicting the final moments in the life of the allegedly slain 12-year old Al-Durah.
Hammad's speech demonstrates that Al-Durah was but one of many children sacrificed on the alter of the Second and extant Intifada by their own people.
It is high time that the West accepts that its attitudes toward parenting are not universal. Child sacrifices are still exalted in certain cultures today just as they were in ancient times.
Haddad summed it up thus: "It's as if [we] were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death like you desire life."
I wonder how Dr. Ashrawi would respond to her comrade Haddad. After all, on 60 Minutes, she balked at being forced to "sink to the level of ...proving I'm human." and noted that "Even animals have feelings for their children."
Both she and Haddad were spot on. We Israelis do desire life, but more than anything, we desire our children's lives. We live for our children and we grieve interminably when they are murdered. And, yes, Dr. Ashrawi, animals do have more feelings for their children than the people who use their children as weapons do.
We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by