The violence we are witnessing among Israeli and Palestinian teenagers is a response to a system that limits their independence through power and control.
By Gil Gertel
Three different news items on teenage violence were aired in the Israeli media recently. The first was a hearing in the Special Committee for the Rights of the Child on violence by teachers toward students. Following that came a report by the Education Ministry that tracked the level of violence in schools. Finally, Channel 10 aired a four-part series that looked into what motives Palestinian teens to carry out violent attacks against Israelis.
When reality is violent, teens are violent
In the second part of the Channel 10 series, a number of (Jewish) experts explain that violence by Palestinian teens stems from lack of authority on the part of the parents; a weak Palestinian educational system; incitement from Palestinian media and social networks; and the admiration by teens for those who are seen as heroes, and their desire to be like them. All these explanations present the phenomenon as entirely disconnected from their surroundings: children are exposed to poor education and incitement, and the hatred and violence just erupts out of nowhere. And what drives the education and incitement? They do not inquire.
In the first episode Channel 10 interviews Eid Muhammad, the father of Rukia Abu Eid. Thirteen-year-old Rukia left her home in Anata with a knife in hand, and attacked the security guard at the nearby Anatot settlement. The security guard shot and killed her. Channel 10 reporter Or Heller (one of the creators of the series) gave a full disclosure: “I have no answer to the question ‘why did she take a knife and attack.’” But this is not exact, as her father explains: “I cannot answer that question. This is an act of God… I cannot even imagine why Rukia went. The occupation is the reason. I told you. The reason is the killing of children. Why do they kill children?”
So Eid Muhammad does, in fact, have an answer, and I think it is the right one: the occupation is the driving force behind the violence of Palestinian teens. In the third episode in the series we see a mother from Anatot gently stroking her son’s head and explaining: “We raise our children to believe in peace, they raise their children to hate.” But even...Read More