Instead of referring to Palestinians who carry out stabbings ‘child terrorists,’ Israeli society would do well to wake up and realize that this rebellion won’t end until these teenagers have their freedom.
By Umar al-Ghubari
Over the past few days, the Israeli media marked six months since the beginning of the latest intifada. The media, as usual, told the story in its typical, shallow way, regurgitating what the vast majority of the Israeli public and its elected officials say on any given day. Most Israeli newspapers hold a classic Israeli-Zionist worldview, which sees Palestinians as murderous, culture-less creatures driven by rabid incitement and poor education.
The reports in the Israeli media match the wave of hatred taking over the Jewish state. Thus, most of the mainstream media outlets play an aggressive, warlike role rather than a journalistic one. Instead of being critical of reality, they perpetrate it. Instead of swimming against the current, as is expected of the media, they are carried away with it.
Israeli leaders order security forces “not to let them get away alive,” the average Israeli yells “death to Arabs,” the worst kind of Israeli yells at a bleeding Palestinian “die, you son of a bitch,” while another citizen yells at the police officer to “put a bullet in his head.” Boom. “Good job, bro.”
And we have Channel 10, one of Israel’s leading news outlets, coining the absurd term “child terrorists.” This has now become widely accepted in Israeli society. Until now we have become accustomed to Israelis who view every Palestinian as a potential terrorist. Until now adult Palestinians — mostly men — have been the targets of this racist, dangerous point of view. Today, in the face of the teenage Palestinian rebellion, Israeli racism is reaching new heights.
Fascism is being engineered and re-engineered every day by leaders, commanders, journalists, and Israeli minds. We must see Palestinian children as “terrorists,” they said. They are no longer children. They are a danger to us. If she has knife in her hand or pocket — kill her. The Israeli, who is generally terrified, will hear the word “terrorist” and won’t think twice. Kill. Because that is what he was told. That is how he is being engineered.
Over the past few months, the killing of Palestinian children has slowly gained legitimacy. This can happen in front of the cameras, unabashedly, even at point-blank range.
We may have forgotten, but this rebellion began because of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Today, now that clashes around Al-Aqsa have calmed down a bit, Palestinian teens continue to try and carry out attacks against their occupiers. This has become almost routine. The atmosphere created by Israeli leaders vis-a-vis Al-Aqsa may have been the match that sparked the “Individual Intifada,” although today it is clear that the uprising is being fueled by endless oppression, humiliation, and colonialism whose roots stretch far deeper than the floor of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Since the beginning of the uprising, over 190 Palestinians have been killed, most of them teenage girls and boys, as well as 33 Israelis and one tourist. Hundreds have been wounded. Most of the attacks were carried out using knives, most of the time by teenagers who acted on their own accord and without a real ability to cause harm, as well as with the knowledge that they wouldn’t come out alive.
On the face of it, they were hoping for death. Neither scared nor deterred. Even the idea that their bodies will be put into freezers following their death does not deter them. Nor do home demolitions. Everyone knows people don’t simply look for death. Every person, even the bravest Palestinian, needs a very good reason to reach the point at which he or she prefers to give up on living.
These are teenagers who went looking for life, and when they couldn’t find it they rebelled against their master. They wanted to shake us, so that someone might pay attention to them, so that someone might save them. Killing is a horrible thing. The sight of spilled blood is spine chilling.
While there is no room to praise bloodletting, there is no room to mock the motivations of these teenagers. We must not discount their reasoning. We must stop with this baseless explanation according to which they are either terrorists or incited imbeciles, which allows us to forgo our responsibility to them and the circumstances that gave rise to their actions.
These stabbers had a message. Help us! This is no way to live. We are not terrorists, we are children. We are demanding freedom, just like any other person would. We are a lost generation. We are rebelling. You killed us? Now save the ones who are still alive — they continue to search for meaning on this earth. Save them before they grow despondent enough to wish that they, too, might be buried in the ground.
Umar al Ghubari is group facilitator, a political educator, and he documents and photographs the Palestinian Nakba. This article was first published published in Hebrew on Local Call — read it here.