Fuelling the cycle of hate
War is teaching the children of
Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: "Why have the schools in
Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that
Israeli pilots and tank commanders could not really discriminate between the adults and the children who hid in their homes or huddled in the UNRWA shelters, and yet they chose to press the trigger. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that the lethal onslaught left 1,314 Palestinians dead, of which 412 - or nearly one third of all of the casualties - were children.
This latest assault underscores that
Every child has a story. A Bedouin friend recently called to tell us about his relatives in
As if the bloody incursion was not enough, the Israeli security forces seem to be keen on spreading the flames of hatred among the Arab population within
A few days after the ceasefire, several men wearing black ski masks stormed the home of Muhammad Abu Humus. They came to arrest him for protesting against the killings in
Chance would have it that Abu Humus, a long-time peace activist and member of the Fatah party, is a personal friend of ours. In 2001, he joined Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership, and since then has selflessly organised countless peace rallies and other joint activities. During the past eight years, we have spent many hours at each other's homes and our children have grown up respecting and liking one other. It is hard to believe that just one month ago he attended the Bar Mitzvah of Yigal's son in a
Muhammad and Wafa Abu Humus have tried over the years to instil in their children a love and desire for peace, and while the security forces may not have destroyed this, the hatred they have generated in one night cannot be underestimated. Indeed, what, one might ask, will his children think of their Jewish neighbours? What feelings will they harbour? And what can we expect from those children in
We emphasise the Palestinian children because so many of them have been killed and terrorised in the past month. Yet it is clear that Israeli children are suffering as well, particularly those who have spent long periods in shelters for fear of being hit by rockets.
The one message that is being conveyed to children on both sides of this fray is that the other side is a bloodthirsty monster. In
Hatred, in other words, is the great winner of this war. It has helped mobilise racist mobs, and as the soccer chant indicates it has left absolutely no place for the other, undermining even basic empathy for innocent children.
Yigal Bronner teaches in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the
Neve Gordon teaches politics at