On a Palestinian childhood. + Building a wall? Not political. Protecting a church? TOTALLY political.

I forgot to post last week’s bi-weekly Open Zion/Daily Beast column! And in the meantime, I posted something short today! So here’s the top of the first post, and since the events I write about at the top of the second post were mentioned here last week, I give you the middle of that one, instead of the top (did you follow that? Excellent).

Palestinian Children

Those of us who advocate for a just Israeli-Palestinian peace (however defined) make a point of clarifying that each side has seen enormous suffering, and we’re right to do so. There are no angels and very few innocents in this war–there’s far more ugly dehumanization, bloodletting, and endless, inconsolable mourning.

But surely if anyone’s innocent, if anyone has a right to claim our non-ideological attention, it’s Israeli and Palestinian children, people born into a conflict not of their making, and thrust into violence through no fault of their own. Shalhevet Pass was only 10 months old when she was killed; Abir Aramin 10 years. Shalhevet was shot in her stroller in Hebron; Abir was shot when the Israeli border patrol opened fire on suspected stone-throwers. The facts surrounding these children’s deaths cannot mitigate them in any way; these are two little girls buried in the ground. There is no excuse or absolution.

But when we talk about each side’s enormous suffering–when I name two children, one Israeli, one Palestinian–and leave it at that, we make it sound as if the scales weigh equally, as if the suffering can be effectively compared. But that’s simply not true. ­

One dead child is one too many. Period. But we’re lying to ourselves if we think that it doesn’t matter that in the past 12 years, 90 Israeli children have died at the hands of Palestinians, while Israel has been responsible for the deaths of 1,331 Palestinian children (note that this figure doesn’t include those killed in airstrikes this month).

And death and bereavement are hardly the only troubles that this conflict brings to a Palestinian childhood.

… for the rest, please click here.

Whose Unilateralism is it, Anyway?

…It could be argued that taking a stand against the UN recognizing the birthplace of Jesus is kind of bone-headed. That Israel could have totally said something like “The birthplace of Jesus is a site revered by millions of Christians around the world, and we agree that it must be protected. We look forward to working with UNESCO on this vital task,” and in so doing, won the hearts and minds of many, not to mention taking the sting out of the Palestinians’ miniscule victory.

But leaving that aside (because really, what am I expecting, miracles?), here’s some news that the AFP reported yesterday about another set of actions there are political and unilateral and “only make peace more distant,” also in the Bethlehem area:

Israel will resume construction of its controversial West Bank barrier within the next few weeks after a five-year delay….

…Work will initially resume around the group of settlements near Bethlehem known as Gush Etzion.

to read the rest of this happy tale, please click here.

This is what occupation looks like in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

(note: Not the child in question).

Back in the olden days, Israelis called the occupation “enlightened” — our army was the most moral in the world, after all, and our cause was just. The occupation was unfortunate, but we were doing the best we could. Right?

Yesterday, the Jerusalem police detained and interrogated a seven year old boy for throwing stones. Even when his father came to collect Muhammad, two hours later, they wouldn’t let him in the room. For three more hours.

Have the Jerusalem police, the Israeli army, and Israel’s political class done worse, and to seven year olds no less? Yes. Destruction of the seven year old’s home would be worse. Killing his parents would be worse. Killing the boy himself. Israel has done all this and more to Palestinian children, more times than we can count at this point.

But there is something to that image, of a second grader on a chair in a spare police office, his feet not reaching the floor, his face a blur of tears and mud and snot, his heart pounding, and all he wants is to go home, to be far away from these frightening men, some of whom are nice but some of whom are yelling, all of whom are keeping him from his Baba, his Daddy, all of whom represent so much that is wrong in his young life, why his mother cries at night and his brother can’t build a new house and his sister can’t get to university in the morning and his Baba’s friend was shot — it is an image that makes the breath catch in the throat. An image that makes clear just how seriously Israel takes the holy status of its Holy City.

The details:

Nir Barkat, the de jure mayor of Jerusalem and de facto military governor of Jerusalem, toured Issawiya yesterday, and the locals, taking a dim view, stoned his entourage (this is an old tradition in Jerusalem: Old King Alexander Yanai, while serving as High Priest on Sukkot, once upset the religious sensitivities of his subjects, so they stoned him with their citrons). Soon afterwards, reported the Palestinian news service Ma’an, policemen detained Muhammad Ali Dirbas, aged seven, carried him off to a nearby police station, interrogated him for three or four hours, and then released him. Further information, obtained by B’Tselem, shows that Dirbas was was detained by YASAM (riot police) at about 4 P.M., and was then moved to a police station at about 5 P.M. His father came to the police station circa 6 P.M., was kept apart from his child until about 9 P.M., and then Muhammad was interrogated in the presence of his father until around 11 P.M., when they were released.

Where to begin? Well, with the fact the police has no authority over children. The age of criminal liability is 12. I find it very hard to believe the police would have detained a seven-year-old Jewish child – the public outcry would reach the heavens, and justly so. But Dirbas is just a Palestinian child, so it’s hard to believe the Israeli media will pay too much attention to the story.

Very hard, indeed.

For more, please click through to +972, the excellent English-language Israeli web magazine, to read “Jerusalem police detain 7 year old child.”

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