03 August '11
Purposely Sacrificing Children
"... We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.... We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
Golda Meir, former Israeli Prime Minister, 1972
What kind of a society consciously and purposely sacrifices its own youth for political gain and tactical advantage? Suicide bombers are an escalation of a small-arms war introduced during the first Intifada (1987-1993 Palestinian’s uprising) and championed by Palestinian leaders, even prior to Arafat’s arrival from Tunis in July 1994. Today the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Arabs nurture a blind hatred of Israel. They created a cultural milieu of vengeance, violence and death - preparing their children to be sacrifices in a death cult. Proud parents dress up their toddlers not in clown costumes, but with suicide belts,1 and countless others celebrate their children’s deaths with traditional sweet holiday cakes and candies.
Protecting our children is a universal trait that unites the Family of Man. But in Palestinian society, that standard has been turned on its head
Around the world, children are precious gifts to their parents and keys to the future. The loving care we invest in our own children is a human trait that unites different cultures: rich and poor, traditional and hi-tech. The toughest job parents have is to raise their children while making everyday sacrifices and decisions for them. We hug them, love them and watch them grow up, praying that they will come to no harm, and doing everything we can to ensure that.
From the poorest barrios in South America to the most wretched slums of Cairo, parents strive to make sure there is food for their children and money for their children’s education. Parents everywhere walk a fine line between the need for parental guidance and youthful independence, setting rules for what their children can and cannot do, trying to ensure that their children will not make mistakes that endanger them. Parents raise their children with the hope that they will grow into happy, responsible, caring, and contributing members of society. That is what unites the Family of Man from Caracas to the Caucuses, from Timbuktu to Katmandu.
It is clear that in Palestinian society something has gone dreadfully wrong. Children in Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza are turned into ‘self-destructing human bombs’ capable of carrying out casualty terrorist attacks in the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis - a phenomenon whose seeds can be traced to the first Intifada.
It happened because Arab communities within the civil jurisdiction of self-rule under the Palestinian Authority (which includes 97 percent of the Arab residents in the West Bank and 100 percent of those in Gaza) foster a culture that prepares children for armed conflict, consciously and purposely putting them in harm’s way for political gain and tactical advantage in their war against Israel. The PA buses children to violent flashpoints far from their neighborhoods and Arab snipers often hide among the young during battle, using children as human shields. Teenaged perpetrators of suicide attacks have become the norm.2
In the first Intifada, a similar pattern surfaced, in which women and children led riots while young men in their late teens and early 20s, armed with rocks, sling shots, Molotov cocktails and grenades operated from the rear.3
There were thousands of Molotov cocktail attacks, more than 100 hand grenade attacks and more than 500 attacks with guns or explosive devices over the course of the first Intifada. Children in elementary and junior high school were encouraged to stone Israelis using rocks and slingshots, knowing that Israeli soldiers could do little beyond taking the youngsters into custody and fining their parents in the hopes they would ground their children. Instead, Palestinian parents sent their children back onto the streets. Some were killed. Others were maimed.
Palestinian society praised the transformation of its children into combatants during the first Intifada, dubbing them fondly “the children of the rocks.” Mahmud Darwish, the Palestinian national poet laureate, wrote a poem after the outbreak of the first Intifada, which sanctioned and sanctified their deaths, and praised “Arab youth on the road to victory, each with a coffin on his shoulder.”4 The poem eventually was set to music, encouraging countless Palestinian children to endanger themselves as a form of socially-condoned conduct that would bring them fame and prestige should they be hurt. This nihilistic bent took an even more destructive path in the second Intifada, as the ‘weapons of choice’ moved from rocks to explosives and the role of the children moved from reckless life-threatening behavior to conscious premeditated suicidal acts.
Clearly horrified by the use of children in armed conflict, Israeli author and peace advocate Aharon Megged wrote during the first Intifada:
“Not since the Children's Crusade in 1212 … has there been a horror such as this – no people, no land where adults send children age 8-9 or 14-15 to the front, day-after-day, while they themselves hide in their houses or go out to work far-far away. They continue, and send them time-after-time, and don't stop them even when they know they are liable to be killed, maimed, beaten or arrested.”
But the use of children to fight grownup battles, which germinated in the first Intifada in 1987, has run the full course - not only teaching and training children to kill, a crime shared by those behind an estimated 300,000 child soldiers around the world, but indoctrinating their own offspring to take their own lives.5
(Read full "Children Dying to Kill")
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