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What's keeping the Palestinian teenage rebellion alive?

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

Palestinian women protesters march, during clashes with Israeli forces, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, October 14, 2015.  (Activestills.org)

Palestinian women protesters march, during clashes with Israeli forces, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, October 14, 2015. (Activestills.org)

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.

Blood at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa, March 8, 2016. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Blood at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jaffa, March 8, 2016. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

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.

File photo of Palestinian youths throwing stones toward Israeli police in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud in response to Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to the Aqsa Mosque. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of Palestinian youths throwing stones toward Israeli police in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud in response to Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to the Aqsa Mosque. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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.

Palestinians celebrate the 14th birthday of Ahmad Manara, a Palestinian youth that carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, in the Dheisheh refugee camp, West Bank, on January 22, 2016.  Manasra and his cousin Hassan, 15, stabbed two Israelis in an east Jerusalem neighborhood Pisgat Zeev in mid-October. Police fatally shot Hassan and a passing car ran over Manasra. The Israeli victims, aged 20 and 13, survived their wounds.  (Activestills.org)

Palestinians celebrate the 14th birthday of Ahmad Manara, a Palestinian youth that carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, in the Dheisheh refugee camp, West Bank, on January 22, 2016. Manasra and his cousin Hassan, 15, stabbed two Israelis in an east Jerusalem neighborhood Pisgat Zeev in mid-October. Police fatally shot Hassan and a passing car ran over Manasra. The Israeli victims, aged 20 and 13, survived the attack. (Activestills.org)

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.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Czar

      The answer is simple. The thirst for blood.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carmen

        You’re definitely right, the answer is simple. They thirst for freedom and it cannot continue to be withheld from them. They have nothing to lose, so they are fearless.

        Reply to Comment
      • Sheheb

        That’s one of the oldest tactics used by oppressors to delegitimize the oppressed, call them “thirsty for blood”. Black Africans were branded as “blood thirsty” when they rose up against their white colonial masters.

        Reply to Comment
    2. David

      “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,”

      Is this a joke? How then did the ~30 Israeli’s die? No doubt due to some harmless prick with a pear peeler or rammed in jest by a baby pram perhaps.

      This type of nonsense is deeply immoral.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carmen

        I’m not sure what you are calling deeply immoral David but I do hope your anger is about the occupation and subjugation of a people that has been ongoing for decades and not the inevitable response from the persons suffering from it. “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.”

        Reply to Comment
        • David

          I actually placed quotations around the portion of the article I found both brazenly incorrect (see the bit about ability to cause harm). I think to deliberately obfuscate on this matter is immoral. Was this unclear?

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I wanted to make sure David. It’s easy to misunderstand. And with that I think the desperation and despair felt by all Palestinians but in particular the youth, who’ve never not known occupation, can’t be stressed enough. If the Palestinians had a militia, children might feel they are being protected better. I can’t imagine the desperation, anger and loss of hope it would take to grab a table knife or a pair of scissors and go to my death. Because I believe alot of this represents suicide. These kids know that the israelis shoot to kill first and maybe will ask a few questions but will mostly make blanket statements about terrorists, children being taught to hate, blah, blah, lies and other distortions.
            “Breaking Report: Israeli Ministry Falsified Evidence to Whitewash Settler Crimes and Frame Child Ahmad Manasrah on False Charges
            From Stones to Knives & Settler Crimes: The Innocence of Ahmad Manasrah
            http://i0.wp.com/www.middleeastrising.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ahmad-mm.jpg?resize=250%2C135

            Reply to Comment
    3. Lewis from Afula

      The PLO supporters are driven by eliminationist antisemitism. That explains their endless knifing of Israeli jews. That began well before the 67 occupation & even before establishment of the state in 48. See the Mufti for more examples.

      Reply to Comment
      • You never never never never never kill children. What ever happened to what I was
        taught, “we don’t do that”. Now that we have the power and now “we do”, there is no reason for our claim to a secure homeland. We are no different than all those who
        persecuted us.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        @Lewis: Mindless propaganda, divorced from reality. Immoral and callous. Watch the video Bruce links to at No Way To Treat A Child.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Bruce Gould

      No Way To Treat A Child has a new website:

      http://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/?utm_campaign=noway_launch&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dcipalestine

      “The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        Yes, butchering of Israelis that occurred BEFORE June 1967 because the Arabs had a time machine. This allowed them to visit the future and see the occupation before it happened.
        The Mufti had a similar time machine too. That explains his meeting with Hitler in 1941.

        Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          A major Zionist politician met with the leader of Germany while it was conducting slave labor and forced sterilization. Herzl met with Kaiser Wilhelm while Germany was colonizing Southwest Africa, asking for a German protectorate over Palestine. It was utterly predictable to anyone following the Zionist movement from the start that military occupation would be necessary for its success. That’s why it was received with so much hostility.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Again, this is mindless propaganda and demonization of “the Arabs” that ignores anything “the Jews” ever did in the same context. A willful erasing of every meaningful distinction, an expression of contempt. There was “butchering” of Arabs by Jews too. There were terrorists acts by Jews too. But you call those guys “the Irgun” and worship them as national heroes. The Sicarii endlessly knifed innocent Romans in the streets. Were they guilty of eliminationist anti-Romanism? Shall we say “those Hebrew-supporters were knifing people and later blowing people up, that explains everything”?

          Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      “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.”

      “incited imbeciles”

      This is the deep racism and condescension of Israelis toward Palestinians. I have seen right wingers here say “I don’t approve of Baruch Goldstein but I understand why he did what he did. He just snapped.” But when it comes to Palestinians, they don’t snap, we can’t understand what they do, they’re just incited imbeciles. Or blood thirsty terrorists (see the first comment on this page). Either evil or too stupid to even know what they are doing. This is the deeply racist, condescending overlord mentality underlying the whole ridiculous idea that the current lone teen intifada (or previous intifadas–Shir Hever reminds us that the dominant response of Israelis to the first intifada was “those ungrateful Palestinians”) is driven by “incitement” against those nice people, those kind and loving Israelis just minding their own business and doing tikun olam.

      Reply to Comment