Friday, April 22, 2005
Teach Kids Peace
"We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." Golda Meir was absolutely right. Now, more than ever in the past fifty-seven years, there is an opportunity for genuine dialogue and ultimate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, with that optimism comes a lingering skepticism. For years, the Palestinian leadership has been indoctrinating children to hate and instructing them towards violence. This type of exploitation has brainwashed a whole generation to hate Israel.
This hate-filled indoctrination is institutionalized and systemic. In order for genuine peace to ever emerge, the Palestinian Authority must begin to teach their children peace. With the death of former PA president Yasser Arafat, a different Palestinian leadership has laid the ground for a better future, seemingly moving in the direction of dismantling terrorist organizations and preparing the Palestinian people for peace. However, while Palestinian children are still predisposed to hate their Jewish neighbors, there are still greater goals that must be achieved.
The PA must dismantle its military-style summer camps for children --camps with the explicit aim of preparing children for battle. Agreements between governments carry little significanceif future generations are being schooled in the ways of war instead of the ways of peace.
Unfortunately, this generation of Palestinian children has been forced to endure a level of hateful propaganda, forcing them to be pawns in a corrupt game of death. Too often, we have seen children between ages 14 and 16, wearing explosive belts, walk into crowded bus stops, resturants, and malls and blow themselves up with the aim of inflicting as many casualties as possible. Just several months ago in November, a 16 year old Palestinian boy walked into a market in Jerusalem, and blew himself up, killing three Israelis and himself.
Children do not grow up wanting to be terrorists unless they are directly instructed that it is a proper way to live one's life. Currently, these youths are being taken out of their homes and their schools and brought into a world where violence instead of communication is the only means for resolution.
No set of values anywhere in the world mandates the exploitation of children for the express purpose of killing themselves in order to kill others. Human rights organizations must stand at the forefront of condemning behavior that leads directly to the murder of innocent civilians. The Palestinian Authority needs to be held accountable for promoting the use of "child soldiers," especially by the human rights organizations, but currently is not.
Yet, in this time of great potential, perhaps a new era will emerge where violence is traded for hope. Strides towards resolution are beginning, and democracy is starting to take root. Now is the time for legitimate change in the region. Now, more than ever, is the time to teach kids peace.
Israel Action Committee Chair
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Now, I was snooping around some Hasbara websites, when I discovered a link to one called Teach Kids Peace. In their campus section, they brag that "Op-eds were printed in student newspapers at Drexel University, American University and many others." Clicking on these links reveals op-eds by Laruen Krol and Gregg Roman, respectively. Unfortunately, they are exactly alike!!! Word for word, these "op-eds" are identical!
Anyway, I had lost my copy of Tuesday's Daily Cal until today, when I got another copy directly from the office. Below I will print the Krol/Roman piece. Pay attention to the color-correspondence. I understand that this is visually unappealing and awkward, but bear with me:
There is cause for optimism for those monitoring progress in the Middle East. A new era led by a movement toward democracy is gripping the region and we should all approach this era with a profound sense of hope.
Entrenched in this optimism however, still lingers some of the skepticism of the past. Years of indoctrinating children to hate others, instructing children toward violence, and exploiting children into war has created a generation that has been brainwashed to act as a veto against any real peace. This state-sponsored, systemic indoctrination continues today and children continue to be exploited and abused into violence.
This must end. For peace to prevail the Palestinian Authority (PA) must begin to teach their children peace.
The Palestinian Authority has been rejuvenated with a leadership that seems committed to resolving the bitter feuds that have plagued their peoples for so many years. However, for this commitment to be seen as a real pledge for peace, the PA must begin dismantling its infrastructure of hate that Yasser Arafat so rigidly constructed. The PA administers military style summer camps for children with the implicit aim of preparing them for battle. Children are taught that war is the way of the future, leaving little room for ambitions of peace. While Israeli children attend summer camps that teach skills such as swimming, art, and other positive life skills, Palestinian children attending PA administered camps learn the basics of violence, hatred and combat. State sponsored military training for children is nothing less than child abuse.
No peace agreement alone will dispel the deeply entrenched hatred that has so tenaciously been programmed into these children. A generation of children have been forced to endure a level of hateful propaganda that has left them ready to fight and die, entirely unaware that they are being used as pawns in a corrupt game of death.
Too often we have seen children ranging from 14 to 16 years old strap themselves to a bomb and blow themselves up. On November 1, 2004, a 16-year-old Palestinian blew himself up in the Carmel market in Jerusalem, killing three Israelis and himself. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility. But what does it mean when a terrorist organization claims responsibility for a terrorist attack? What does it mean when the terrorist was 16 years old? It means that organizations are taking the Palestinian youth out of their homes, their schools and their nightclubs and are bringing them into a sinister, manufactured world and teaching them to kill. Unfortunately however, these terrorist organizations are neither limited to fringe groups nor sidelined by the government. The government itself promotes this behavior and acts as a resource in preparing children to pursue this activity. In fact, the web site of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the military wing of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, displays pictures of children training in uniform with weapons. In most Western countries it is considered child abuse for a parent to teach their child to use a gun when he or she is five years old. Where is the condemnation when the PA commits the same abuse against an entire generation?
Between January 2002 and January 2004, there were at least eight terrorist attacks committed by children less than 18 years of age. Children do not naturally aspire to blow themselves up. This attitude is taught and learned; now is the time to stop it.
With this new hopeful era that has emerged in the region, must also come a commitment to teaching the children peace. Children are not soldiers, they are not weapons and they should be taught love and compassion, not hatred and intolerance. The world must demand an end to the exploitation and abuse of Palestinian children. The future of Middle East peace depends on it.
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So this is what Hasbara has come to: a plagiarism ring. Which is not surprising, since I do not believe "critical thinking" or "research" are what are emphasized in Hasbara seminars.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Here is my response to a letter to the Daily Cal by the head of the Israel Action Committee. He discussed incitement by the P.A. and its effects on the peace process. There are several points on which I disagree with him, and I hope the Daily Cal prints my response, although I would not count on it:
J.K.’s letter (“Teach Kids Peace,” April 19) did not appear to be in response to anything which the Daily Cal has actually printed recently. Thus, I can only assume that it is one of those periodical recitations of the standard truisms: Israelis love, Palestinians hate. Israelis are instinctively democratic, Palestinians are not.
These Golda Meir Era clichés are quite soothing for those of us with something to lose in Israel (such as a sister) who might otherwise get that uncomfortable feeling that perhaps Palestinian youth have been “brainwashed” not exclusively by the PA, but by the “institutionalized and systemic” policies of Israel toward them, their families, and their property. Hasbara never fails to leave me with that warm and fuzzy feeling that those who have been so radicalized as to want to hurt my sister have undergone that process only in the last twelve years, and only because of what they have seen on television or read in a book.
It’s really quite an empowering way of looking at things! Consider the inexplicably popular FaceBook group “Responsible Parenting,” of which Mr. K. is a member. By “wondering what kind of parent allows their child to go and throw rocks at tanks,” we can take comfort in the fact that Palestinian parents don’t really care about their children’s well-being, meaning that if those children were to die it would mean less to them (and should mean less to us) than if our children were to die. Plus, we get to ignore the question of why people in tanks feel the need to fire back at children throwing rocks! It’s the best of both worlds, and the feeling of moral absolution is heavenly!
But ultimately, it reeks of the arrogance and ignorance which those who have power allow themselves to exhibit toward those who do not.
This is not to belittle Mr. K’s point that incitement, terrorism, and “child soldiers” are immoral phenomena, but he should look more carefully before claiming that “human rights organizations” do not condemn these things. B’Tselem has an entire section dedicated to Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians which it condemns in the strongest possible terms, along with the PA’s rather broad application of the death penalty. Amnesty International has called suicide bombings a “crime against humanity.” Human Rights Watch, in response to the horrific November bombing that Mr. K. described, states, “Palestinian armed groups should immediately end all use of children in military attacks.” If these groups focus more on Israeli policies, perhaps that’s because Israeli policies play a greater role in the conflict.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
In other news, the American Jewish Congress has just announced that all us Jews ought to rush out and buy some Caterpillar stock. Because clearly it should be the top priority of American Jews to support an American company that provides equipment that makes Palestinian families homeless. Not.
More at Semitism.net.